DANVILLE — The usually beautiful pastoral Centre College campus was transformed Wednesday as heavy security and hordes of media descended on the small, liberal arts campus in preparation of Thursday night’s vice presidential debate.
Several city streets were closed Wednesday evening and more were to be closed early Thursday, according to Kentucky State Police Trooper Paul Blanton, Public Affairs Officer for the Richmond Post.
Blanton said KSP and its Commercial Vehicle Enforcement division had more than 100 officers “from all across the state, from Mayfield (in far western Kentucky) to Pikeville (in far eastern Kentucky).” He said their primary job is to manage traffic flow and control access to the debate location.
Much of campus is hidden from the view of passing motorists because of concrete barriers, topped by chain link fences which are draped with canvass blocking the view. Beginning Thursday, no one without security clearance or media credentials will be allowed into that area.
Inside all that security at the Norton Center for the Arts, where the debate will occur, staff and stand-ins for Republican Paul Ryan and Democratic incumbent Vice President Joe Biden got a walk-through early Wednesday morning.
Some may have been taken aback by the visage they encountered watching from an alcove above the stage. The portrait of Centre grad and former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Vinson stared back at them.
The Phi Delta Theta fraternity brought “Dead Fred” to the debate hall Tuesday, continuing a long tradition of the fraternity to bring him to all major campus events including football games.
Dead Fred was lucky — seats are hard to come by.
Some staff for Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, the Senate Minority Leader, were scurrying Wednesday trying to find him a ticket. Centre President John Roush planned to conduct a lottery for Centre students for about 100 tickets for the debate.