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Democratic debate puts Las Vegas in spotlight

Posted at 12:53 PM, Oct 13, 2015

Las Vegas is in the spotlight  with the first Democratic presidential debate happening tonight.

The debate will start at 5:30 p.m. at the Wynn hotel-casino.

Being picked for the debate could also give the Las Vegas economy an extra boost with rooms being booked up.

"There used to be a time that people would shy away from Las Vegas because of the glitz and the glamour but the truth of the matter is our message has been accepted that it's a place to do serious business and certainly a debate is serious business," said Oscar Goodman, former mayor and chairman of the Las Vegas Convention center and Visitors Authority host committee. "And then afterwards what happens here stays here so you have a good time."

The Nevada Democratic Party representatives said the debate is going to have a serious effect on the election as a whole.

"The debate impacts the election and turnout because it brings a lot of attention to the fact that we are having a caucus," said Roberta Lange, party chairwoman. "That we are moving into the presidential election and it helps people get excited about hearing about their candidate and it helps them choose their candidate and be a part of the process."

Latino leaders are holding their own viewing party. They say they're paying close attention to what the candidates say about immigration, health care access and education. They say these issues have been skirted around in previous debates.

"There's no way that any candidate will reach the White House without going through the barrios of the Latino community," said Ben Monterroso, Mi Familia Vota. "Nevada is no exception, actually Nevada is most important."

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid is expected to point to Nevada's impact on the presidential race on the eve of the election's first Democratic debate, at a Washington Post forum.

MGM CEO Jim Murren is also expected to speak at the event where policymakers, Democratic and Republican strategists and journalists will offer predictions for the debate and the presidential race.