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First US Democratic presidential debate on 13 October

AFP , Thursday 6 Aug 2015

Hillary Clinton and fellow Democratic candidates will square off October 13 in their first debate of the 2016 presidential campaign, the party announced Thursday as it unveiled its primary debate schedule.

The debut event will occur in Nevada, the first of six televised debates for the party that is trying to hold the White House following two terms of President Barack Obama.

The second debate is scheduled for November 14 in Iowa, followed by December 19 in New Hampshire. The two states vote earliest in the primary process that determines a party's presidential nominee.

A fourth debate is set for January 17, 2016 in South Carolina, while the fifth and sixth debates are in Florida and Wisconsin, in either February or March.

"These six debates will not only give caucus goers and primary voters ample opportunity to hear from our candidates about their vision for our country's future," Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

"They will highlight the clear contrast between the values of the Democratic Party, which is focused on strengthening the middle class, versus Republicans who want to pursue out-of-touch and out-of-date policies."

Clinton, the clear frontrunner, is being challenged by independent Senator Bernie Sanders, former Virginia senator Jim Webb, former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, and former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee.

The Democrats' announcement comes on the very day Republicans gather in Cleveland, Ohio for their debut debate of the 2016 race.

Sixteen men and one woman are vying for their party's nomination, led by brash billionaire and current frontrunner Donald Trump.

He and the other top nine in poll standings, including Jeb Bush, will take the stage for the 9:00 pm (0100 GMT) main debate. A forum for the seven second-tier candidates will be held four hours earlier.

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