KCCI? What? Odds are you've never heard of the Iowa CBS affiliate unless you live in or near Des Moines, Iowa. But given the state's outsized role in presidential politics, the TV station and the state's largest newspaper, The Des Moines Register, are co-hosting the Democratic presidential debate scheduled for Nov. 14 with CBS News. Don't fret, though, if you're tuning in from elsewhere. The Democratic debate won't just be on KCCI, but will air nationally on CBS as well.
The Democratic National Committee announced the station and newspaper's roles in August. The debate will be hosted by CBS's Face the Nation anchor John Dickerson. CBS said Wednesday that KCCI's local anchor Kevin Cooney will assist as a panelist alongside CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes and The Des Moines Register's political columnist Kathie Obradovich. The debate will be held at Drake University's Sheslow Auditorium, in Des Moines. In addition to the national telecast, CBS News will also live-stream the debate online with Twitter reactions shown on the same screen.
Only the three remaining candidates will participate: Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, and Bernie Sanders. Since the last Democratic debate, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb have dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination. Webb has said he will run as an independent. That's a big change from recent Republican debates with 10 candidates on stage, and that's just for the primetime event.
KCCI political analyst Dennis Goldford in August said to another KCCI reporter that it is a big honor for the station but the debate should not be overly Iowa-centric. "If they ask Iowa-centric kinds of questions, then of course, candidates would speak to that. But that irritates prospective voters in other states," he said.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Andy McGuire told KCCI in August that many national policy debates affect Iowans too. "Many of the issues that affect Iowa families affect families across the country," he said. "So, I think there is that commonality. There will be some Iowa flavor and a lot of national."
Even though the CBS debate is the second meeting of candidates endorsed by the Democratic National Committee, a few unofficial "candidate forums" have been added to the calendar. Candidates participated last Friday in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where Rachel Maddow moderated the First In The South Candidates Forum. It was more of an intimate affair, stylized as an interview rather than a debate.
MoveOn.org has also announced a candidates forum for mid-November. Sanders has confirmed his participation but O'Malley and Clinton have not responded to their invitations as of early November.