SECAUCUS, NJ - April 5, 2006 - MSNBC will provide the first live national telecast of a New Orleans mayoral debate on Monday, April 17 at 9 p.m. ET.  MSNBC's Chris Matthews and WDSU anchor Norman Robinson will jointly moderate the one-hour debate.  Seven candidates will participate in the event, including business lawyer Virginia Boulet (D), Rob Couhig (R), also a lawyer and managing partner of Couhig Investments, Ron Forman (D), president and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute, current Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu (D), current Mayor Ray Nagin (D), Reverend Tom Watson (D), who is currently pastor of the Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries, and Peggy Wilson (R), a former president of the New Orleans City Council.

The debate, which takes place just five days prior to the April 22 vote, will be telecast live from WDSU's studios in New Orleans and will also be streamed live on msnbc.com and wdsu.com. Also on MSNBC.com, viewers will be able to read profiles and backgrounders on the candidates and the issues, as well as a guide for voters, many of whom were displaced by the hurricane

"New Orleans and its Mayor were thrust onto the national stage last summer when the city was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina" said MSNBC president Rick Kaplan.  "Consequently, the job of mayor of New Orleans has taken on national significance and a heavy burden as the city and the rest of the country face years of rebuilding. We are honored to be able to provide this important public service to the citizens of New Orleans who have evacuated across the country, and to the rest of the nation. There is no one better to ask the tough questions of the candidates than MSNBC Election Anchor Chris Matthews."

"We're proud to be able to partner with NBC News to offer the only mayoral debate with live nationwide coverage," said WDSU President and General Manager Mason Granger.  "We wanted to do everything we could to bring this debate to the citizens of the Crescent City wherever they may be.  Through the reach of MSNBC on cable and the internet, we will be able to do that."

MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" (5-6 pm ET and 7-8 pm ET) will also originate live from the debate stage at WDSU's studios on Monday, April 17 and will preview the New Orleans debate.  Tammy Haddad is executive producer of "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and MSNBC primetime political director. Bill Wolff is vice president, primetime programming for MSNBC.  Elizabeth Wilner is political director for NBC News and Gary Seidman is political editor for MSNBC.com.   For additional information please visit www.hardball.msnbc.com

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