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Fred Thompson Expected to Make First Major Appearance Since Declaring

The "All-American Presidential Forums on PBS" Moderated by Tavis Smiley will give Republican presidential candidates an opportunity to make their case on the issues of concern for people of color. The Forum will take place on September 27th from 9 to 10:30 p.m (EDT), broadcast live on PBS from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Forum is expected to be the first such event for Fred Thompson since he officially entered the race. All other candidates are expected to participate with the exception of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who have thus far declined the invitation.

The first Forum was held on June 28th at Howard University in Washington, DC, featuring all eight Democratic candidates. Both events have historic significance as the first-ever nationally broadcast election events specifically oriented towards voters of color.

Moderator Smiley commented: "I am pleased that this appears to be Senator Thompson's first appearance as a presidential candidate on a debate stage. His timing couldn't be better. His views will be heard by the broadest possible spectrum of all Americans compared to other such events in which he may participate."

Regarding Giuliani and Romney's decisions, Smiley noted, "It is a missed opportunity for the presumptive front-runners. Their timing is truly unfortunate, given that this Forum will take place 48 hours after a historic celebration of the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, an event to be attended by President Bush and President Clinton. This important milestone happened because of the orders of a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower."

He added, "The candidates who have confirmed will be sending a powerful and unprecedented message to people of color and all Americans of conscience and goodwill that their vote is being competed for and fought over. Perhaps the two candidates who have declined will reconsider when they realize that they are conceding 90 minutes of national prime time exposure before an important part of the electorate to Senator Thompson and the other Republican candidates. We will have two extra podia on the stage should they ultimately choose to participate."

Like the Democratic event, the Republicans will field questions from a distinguished panel featuring three journalists of color: Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Juan Williams of National Public Radio and Ray Suarez of PBS/The NewsHour.

The Forum will be simultaneously webcast on PBS.org, and video of both events will be archived for download and viewing on the Web site. The Web site (pbs.org/tavissmiley) will include additional coverage of the presidential candidates and their positions on key issues of the campaign, including past interviews, backgrounders, viewer polls and a forum blog and election resources. Visitors will be able to submit their own questions for the candidates, read commentary and share their own opinions.

The Forum also will be broadcast on public radio stations nationwide via PRI, Public Radio International.

"The All-American Presidential Forums" are made possible by PBS, The California Endowment and the National Minority Consortia. The program is produced by Tavis Smiley Media Inc. and presented by KCET/Los Angeles.


The Media Center will be located at the Hill Field House on the Morgan State University campus. Space is limited. Morgan State University is located at 2201 Argonne Drive Baltimore, Maryland 21251

Due to space limitation and security issues, all requests for media credentials must be submitted by September 13 at 6 p.m. Registration can be conducted online at http://pressroom.pbs.org/programs/all-american_presidential. Toll-free line for questions: 1-866-408-2804.

Internet Wired, WiFi Wireless Service and Phone Orders: PBS will provide free wireless Internet service to journalists in the Media Center. Phone and Wired Ethernet orders will be coordinated through SBX Inc (formerly Soapbox). Additional information is available online at the media registration site.