Las Vegas invites presidential hopefuls to slug it out here

Las Vegas is vying to host one of four general election presidential debates in 2016, the Convention and Visitors Authority announced Wednesday.

A popular convention city, Las Vegas is one of 16 cities competing to become a debate site, which would bring more attention to the battleground state of Nevada, thousands of visitors and an economic impact of millions of dollars.

“Las Vegas would be a natural choice for a presidential debate given our ability to host high-profile special events, and the world-class experience our destination provides,” Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the authority, said in a news release.

The debate would take place at the Thomas & Mack Center in September or October of next year, if selected. Chosen cities will be announced this fall by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Nevada is one of four early voting states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. As a result of it’s first in the West presidential caucus, the Silver State is a popular campaign stop for White House hopefuls.

During the GOP primary season, Las Vegas will in December host one of at least nine Republican debates.

The primary season face-offs are handled by the political parties. The general election debates are arranged by a non-partisan commission.

In Nevada, Ralenkotter and University of Nevada, Las Vegas President Len Jessup were named co-chairs of the Las Vegas 2016 Presidential Debate Committee.

“Presidential debates bring a unique energy — and the national spotlight – to a campus and enrich the education of students by allowing them to experience the political process up close,” Jessup said in a statement. “UNLV has one of the most diverse student bodies in the country and is an ideal venue for the candidates to debate issues that will affect our students, our community, our state and our nation.”

The committee has 18 members, including representatives of the gaming industry, law enforcement, technology and transportation.

Cities vying to host the general election debates must meet certain basic requirements to provide adequate transportation, working space and hotel rooms – up to 3,000 in this case.

The 16 cities that have applied to host include Las Vegas, Houston, St. Louis, Nashville, Tenn., Jacksonville, Fla., Birmingham, Ala., McAllen, Texas, San Rafael, Calif., Richmond, Ky., Milledgeville, Ga., Hempstead, N.Y., Farmville, Va., Suffern, N.Y., College Station, Texas., Charleston, W.V., and Dayton, Ohio.

Contact Laura Myers at or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj. Contact Kimberly De La Cruz at or 702-383-0381. Find her on Twitter: @KimberlyinLV.

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