Washington (CNN) – The Western Republican Leadership Conference announced Wednesday that it has selected CNN to host a GOP presidential primary debate in Las Vegas that will be a centerpiece of the WRLC's four-day conference in October.
Voters from 16 states and territories that make up the Republican National Committee Western Region will meet in Las Vegas to talk politics and policy and hear the candidates discuss their visions on Oct. 18 at the Venetian Resort.
"Republicans in Western States will play an important role in determining the next Republican nominee for president," said former Nevada Rep. Jon Porter, chairman of the WRLC. "On behalf of the Western Republican Leadership Conference, I am excited to be working with CNN on this important debate. I look forward to hosting our 2012 Presidential candidates, and showcasing their ideas on Western and national issues."
Nevada is expected to play a key role in helping Republicans choose their next presidential nominee. The RNC has chosen it to be one of the first states to vote in the Republican presidential primary process next year.
"Nevada is the gateway to the West in the 2012 Republican presidential primary," said Sam Feist, CNN's political director and vice president of Washington programming. "This is an opportunity for GOP presidential candidates to speak, in person, to Nevada Caucus-goers as well as voters from the 15 other states and territories represented by the Western Region."
Jack St. Martin, WRLC's executive director, said the debate and conference will help bring attention to the pressing issues not only facing the nation, but also those of importance to voters in western states.
"Western states will play a pivotal role in the 2012 presidential election," he said. "The debate this October will give the party's presidential candidates the chance to speak directly to voters about important issues in these key states and issues facing all Americans."
States and territories in the RNC's Western Region include: Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
CNN previously announced it would co-host a June 7 Republican primary debate in New Hampshire with the New Hampshire Union Leader and WMUR-TV as well as a Sept. 12 GOP primary debate in Florida with the Tea Party Express and other Tea Party organizations.