SNEAK PEEK: Democrats Prep for Vegas Debate


The Democratic '08ers head West Thursday for an 8:00 pm ET debate which will be televised on what John McCain's campaign manager calls the"Clinton News Network."

Thursday's Dust-Up in the Desert is the first Democratic debate in Nevada this cycle.

But the state's powerful Culinary Union does not expect the Wolf Blitzer-moderated affair to be determinative in its endorsement process.

"We're not going to make an endorsement off of one sound bite in one debate," Pilar Weiss, the Culinary Union's political director, told ABC News.

Weiss says the endorsement of her 60,000-member union, which promises to do phones, mail, and door-to-door for its chosen candidate, will ultimately turn on the candidates' records and "what we have heard in person."

As for the timing of an endorsement, Weiss is non-committal.

She will only say that it will come "after Thanksgiving but before the Nevada caucuses," which are scheduled for Jan. 19.

(Nevada Democratic Party sources think the most likely time is early December).

Here is how Jon Ralston -- the state's David Yepsen -- recently handicapped the union's endorsement from his perch high above the Vegas strip (the 112th floor of The Stratosphere to be exact).

"I think they want to go with the winner, and I think they're going to determine the winner," Ralston told PBS' Judy Woodruff during his Tuesday appearance on PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

"The polling here has shown Hillary Clinton well ahead," Ralston added. "However, Barack Obama has been very organized and has made several visits to the Culinary folks to make his case. So I think that that endorsement is still wide open."

Key issues for the Culinary Union include health care, home foreclosures, water resources, the war in Iraq, and the right to organize.

Immediately following the two-hour debate, the Democratic '08ers attend the Clark County Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner at the Paris Hotel.

Clinton will be joined at the dinner by Rory Reid, the Clark County Commissioner and son of Harry Reid who is backing her candidacy.

The Senate Majority Leader was asked Tuesday if it is fair for his son to be chairing Clinton's Nevada campaign.

"My son is 44 years old," said The Pride of Searchlight, Nev. "It's a little hard for me to order him around."

As for the Republican race, immigration was front and center on Wednesday.

Mike Huckabee got personal with Mitt Romney, suggesting on the Fox News Channel that the former Massachusetts governor would sooner have illegal immigrants "working on his lawn" than going to college.

Rudy Giuliani also got tough with Romney, saying his rival "probably has the worst record on illegal immigration."

For his part, Fred Thompson launched, "No Amnesty," his second Iowa television ad.

Tomorrow's schedule details:


-- 8:00 pm ET: Participates in CNN/Nevada Democratic Party Presidential Debate, Las Vegas, NV

--11:00 pm ET: Attends the Clark County Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Las Vegas, NV


-- 8:00 pm ET: Participates in CNN/Nevada Democratic Party Presidential Debate, Las Vegas, NV

--11:00 pm ET: Attends the Clark County Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Las Vegas, NV


--11:45 am ET: Attends event with Clayton County residents, Guttenberg, IA

-- 2:45 pm ET: Attends event with Allamakee County residents, Waukon, IA

--5:40 pm ET: Attends an event with Howard County residents, Cresco, IA


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