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All eyes on Florida during presidential primary campaign

Florida will host back-to-back televised debates of the Democratic and Republican presidential contenders before the Jan. 29 primary.

A partnership between Leadership Florida, the Florida Press Association and the Florida Public Broadcasting Service, which produced four debates last year in Florida's races for governor and U.S. Senate, will announce the dates and locations for the presidential forums tomorrow.

The Republican Party of Florida is also hosting a debate between the GOP candidates in Orlando on Oct. 21 to be broadcast on FOX News.

With a new law moving the state's primary from the second Tuesday in March to the last Tuesday in January, the state is expected to play its biggest role ever in the nominating process.

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This partnership formed by Leadership Florida with the Florida Press Association (all daily and weekly newspapers) and Florida Public Broadcasting (TV & radio) will likely lead to one of the most important pivotal events in the 2008 presidential sweepstakes.

Last year, in the races for governor and U.S. Senate, this is the project/partnership that produced meaningful, relevant debates -- instead of the "look at me" NBC anchor-dominated Chris Matthews debate for which there should be a viewer rebate.

You can trust that this particular project will both attract all of the major candidates AND national media coverage and broadcast pickup, even beyond Florida borders.

This forum series --built by the strong trio of organizations -- is sure to be as good or better than what they produced last year. And all of the majors will be there.

You can expect Leadership Florida to continue this strong track of convening around major issues and events -- and to continue to attract the best and most appropriate partners, sponsors, venues, etc.

Kudos to this group for making this idea come to life.

I look forward to watching these meaningful debates.

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