As far as we know, this is also the first forum to feature local, non-media people as panelists. The forum will consist of questions from three people: Jeneane Beck, a KUNI radio news reporter, along with two so-called "local folks, " a former teacher and a veteran who is also a former county attorney.
The candidates won't get a chance to question each other. They get five minutes to speak; they'll each be asked the same three questions; the remaining time will be left to questions from the assembled state chairs.
The biggie, potentially, is on Sunday. It's the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Democratic Presidential Candidate Forum. We told you yesterday that Senator Edwards will miss it because of a scheduling conflict.
The element that distinguishes it is undoubtedly the moderator: Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.
Yesterday on that new Lou Dobbs show, whatever it's now titled, Jackson appeared to blame the Bush economy for the riots in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Much admired in some quarters, much despised in others, Rev. Jackson remains a path breaker and a kingmaker.
The format here will be a combination of questions from a panel of journalists and a town-hall style segment in which Jackson will move about the audience of 500-600 and allow them to directly ask questions.
It's the first time the candidates will be answering questions together on "minority" issues. We expect close queries about affirmative action.
It's not unreasonable to expect a combination of heart-felt, engaging answers AND full-throated pandering.
The panel of journalists will be made up of NPR's Tavis Smiley, WTTW Chicago PBS's Phil Ponce and a CNN reporter TBD.
C-SPAN is scheduled to carry this event live.
Back to today:
The AP's Jennifer Loven reports, "President Bush chose a state he narrowly lost in 2000 to deliver a third speech this week devoted to the politically crucial issue of what his administration is doing to boost the lagging economy." LINK ABC News' Ann Compton points out that Micro Control Inc., where Bush will speak today, will accept Bush's tax cut but won't use it to rehire 50 employees it recently laid off.
"Harold Hamilton expects to buy $80,000 of new equipment for his Micro Control Inc. next year, thanks to the savings the Fridley company will realize under the Bush tax cuts," the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. LINK "What about hiring back some of the workers — about 50 — Micro Control has shed in this soft economy?"
"'I tell you, it really depends on the economy,' said Hamilton, who will be host to President Bush at Micro Control today. 'If we sell more, we'll hire more people.'"
"Hamilton has been singled out for presidential attention, but he speaks for many CEOs in both welcoming the Bush-initiated tax cuts and taking something of a 'no, you first' attitude when it comes to the hiring trend that economists agree has to take place for the recovery to gain traction."
Back east, Senator Kerry laid down a marker of sorts when he promised to "get to the bottom" of why the administration might have "misled" America on the war.
The AP's Fournier reports that Kerry said Bush "waged a war based on questionable intelligence." LINK "'He misled every one of us,' Kerry said. 'That's one reason why I'm running to be president of the United States.'"