Hillary Clinton coming to Carson City

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton will come to Carson City this month to participate in the first of a series of Democratic presidential candidate forums, according to state Democratic party officials.

She was the first of the Democratic front-runners to RSVP for the Feb. 21 event sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

But it was unclear how many members of the public would be able to attend the event at the Carson City Community Center. Kirsten Searer, of the state Democratic party, said the employee federation was in charge of tickets, and planned to reserve a large percentage of the seats available for its members. She said it wasn't clear how many seats would be available to the public. No one could be reached at the union for comment.

Clinton, who the polls say is leading a growing slate of Democrats seeking the nomination in 2008, will join Sen. Joe Biden, of Delaware; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; Arkansas Gov. Mike Gravel; former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack; retired Gen. Wesley Clark; and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd.

Former Sen. John Edwards and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama have not yet announced whether they will attend. Obama, D-Ill., is scheduled to formally launch his campaign Saturday in Springfield, Ill.

Several of the candidates, however, have asked the Democratic National Committee to cut down on the number of debates. More than a dozen such events are already scheduled for announced and hopeful candidates in the 2008 presidential race.

Searer said some candidates expressed concerns about the format of the forum, and the party agreed to accommodate them.

Candidates will appear on stage individually, give a statement, and answer a series of questions posed by a moderator, Searer said.

"Their concern was that they didn't want a lot of negative back and forth," Searer said. "We were very open about the format. We want to give them an opportunity to introduce themselves to Nevada as they're comfortable."

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson confirmed the senator would attend.

Searer said this is the first of several events planned in Nevada.

The statewide party caucuses are set for Jan. 19, and will be centered in Reno. Nevada's caucus was moved between Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus and the New Hampshire primary, as a way for minority and union voters in the West to get a say in picking the Democratic nominee.

The moderator and the network television host for the forum, co-sponsored by the state party and the employee federation, have not been decided, Searer said. The community center holds about 750 people.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Democratic forum

The Democratic forum at the Carson City Community Center on Feb. 21 will cause some inconvenience for those who rely on programs held there. Barbara Singer, of the city Parks and Recreation Department, said the center will be shut down to the public for security reasons.

• Aerobics and other classes, as well as regular children's programs, must move out of the building for the day.

• The Kinder Program will move to the Kids Club.

• The Kids' Club and morning Latch Key programs will move to the Carson City Library.

• Parents will be notified of the changes by mail.

Nevada Democratic events

There are two candidate forums and three debates scheduled in Nevada.

Feb. 21 - Carson City

Forum in Carson City sponsored by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

March 24 - University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Health-care forum co-sponsored by Service Employees International Union and the Center for American Progress

• Mid-August - Reno

Debate focused on Western regional issues

• Nov. 2 - UNLV

Debate sponsored by the Nevada State Democratic Party

• Jan. 15 - Las Vegas

Debate co-sponsored by the Caucus of African American Nevadans and Impacto, the political arm of the Latin Chamber of Commerce


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