UNLV tapped to host final presidential debate

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Many are hailing October’s final presidential debate at UNLV as the most important in recent memory. Organizers will spend the next nine months preparing for the event. It’s a big opportunity for Las Vegas on a big stage.

A sea of red, white and blue ushered in UNLV’s celebration of its selection to host the final presidential debate leading up to the November election.

“I always talk about the fact that Las Vegas evolved to host people, and we do that every single day with the great staffs that we have,” said Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter.

Las Vegas will be the center of the political universe, not just on debate night October 19th, but also in the weeks leading up to the event.

Governor Brian Sandoval says he hopes the exposure will bring Nevada issues into the spotlight.

“We have a lot of issues that are national issues, that everyone (is) paying attention to,” he said. “The candidates are coming here, because they know they need to win Nevada, and that’s good for us, and it’s important the nation knows our Nevada issues.”

Political expert and UNLV professor David Damore says there’s a good chance some of those issues could make it into the debate.

“I would think that those would be there as well, as well as some of the issues about sustainability,” he said. “I think those are going to move to the forefront there, and, obviously, public lands is always an ongoing issue in Nevada.”

Council on Presidential Debates Co-Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf says, because the issues are so important, the format of the debate will differ from the two primary debates Las Vegas hosted in 2015.

“We do not allow cheers, yells, screams, boos as we heard in some of the debates that have been held so far,” he said.

As many as 100 million people are expected to tune in for the debate. It’s an opportunity UNLV and local leaders say they are ready to tackle.

“It provides Las Vegas with external validation of what we’ve known here: We’re the future of what America’s going to look like,” Damore said.

As many as 20,000 people could attend the October debate. As many as 5,000 members of the media are also expected to be in Las Vegas in the weeks leading up to the event.

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