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Meet the Press announces the return of its award-winning Senate Debate Series this fall

Continuing in its long tradition of presenting viewers with the very best in political debate, NBC News' "Meet the Press" will again devote a portion of its broadcasts this fall to special debates between the candidates from some of the most interesting and competitive U.S. Senate races across the country. The debates will be moderated by David Gregory and will originate live from the NBC Studios in Washington, D.C.

The acclaimed series will start Labor Day weekend Sunday, September 5th, as Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) square off in a debate for the U.S. Senate seat from Florida. (Independent candidate Gov. Charlie Crist has been invited to participate but has not committed.) The debates will continue on select Sundays throughout the rest of the heated midterm election cycle.

In addition to Florida on September 5th, other scheduled debates include:

Illinois: State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) vs. Rep. Mark Kirk (R) on October 10th.
Colorado: Senator Michael Bennet (D) vs. Ken Buck (R) on October 17th.

Other debates will be announced as dates are confirmed.

In keeping with the broadcast's commitment to bringing the Sunday morning conversation to the online community, "Meet the Press" has partnered with Facebook as a unique way to integrate questions directly from voters in the debates. Each week, viewers can go to www.facebook.com/meetthepress and suggest a question about the issue that matters most to them. The program will then select a question to be presented to the candidates during the live debate. Facebook will also be promoting these questions on their U.S. Politics Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/uspolitics).

"Meet the Press" created its "Senate Debate Series" in 2002 with Tim Russert moderating debates in the Colorado, South Carolina and Louisiana contests. The series was well received and went on to win the prestigious USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Award for "Excellence in Television Political Journalism."

In 2004, "Meet the Press" continued the series with much success, featuring several debates including: South Dakota (Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle vs. Former Rep. John Thune) and Colorado (State Attorney Gen. Ken Salazar vs. Pete Coors). And in 2006, with control of the Senate hanging in the balance, more than 20 million viewers tuned in for the third installment of the series, featuring six debates including: Virginia (Sen. George Allen vs. Jim Webb) and Pennsylvania (Sen. Rick Santorum vs. State Treasurer Robert P. Casey). In 2008, Tom Brokaw moderated a live debate between Rep. Mark Udall and former Rep. Bob Schaffer for the Senate race in Colorado.

Press wishing to cover the debate from the NBC studios in Washington, please contact Jenny.Tartikoff@nbcuni.com to make prior arrangements.

Press questions regarding Facebook, please contact Andrew Noyes at Noyes@facebook.com

"Meet the Press" is seen on the NBC Television Network from 9-10 a.m. ET in most markets. In Washington, D.C. and New York City, the broadcast is seen from 10:30-11:30 a.m. ET.

Please check local listings or the "Meet the Press" website (www.mtp.msnbc.com) for television and radio broadcast times in your area.

David Gregory is the moderator of "Meet the Press." Betsy Fischer is the executive producer, and Rebecca Samuels and Christopher Donovan are the producers.