As the network announced in January, MSNBC will telecast the first debates of the 2008 presidential campaign season. NBC Nightly News Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams will moderate the South Carolina Democratic Party's debate on April 26th. MSNBC Election Anchor Chris Matthews will moderate the Reagan Library's GOP debate on May 3rd, in partnership with

The South Carolina Democratic Party has announced that Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson are all confirmed to participate in the debate on April 26th. The debate will take place at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and will air live on MSNBC from 7:00 to 8:30 pm (ET) and stream live on South Carolina NBC affiliates, WIS-TV in Columbia, WYFF-TV in Greenville and WCBD-TV in Charleston, will join MSNBC in airing the debate.

The Ronald Reagan Library announced that Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Tommy Thompson are all confirmed to attend the Library's debate on May 3rd. The debate will take place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and will air live on MSNBC from 8:00 to 9:30 pm (ET) and stream live on and and will include audience questions gathered on

Said Williams, "For South Carolina voters, there is no substitute for seeing and hearing the candidates in the State, on the issues. South Carolina will play a huge role in determining the next President of the United States. We look upon this debate as the start of that very serious conversation. I'm so looking forward to being in South Carolina -- and sampling the familiar hospitality -- as we put to the candidates the questions South Carolina voters want answered. This is participatory Democracy in action, we want people to watch, we want the voters to send in their questions so we can read them on the air. The stakes are high and South Carolina is about to play a pivotal role in the future direction of the country as a whole. "

This presidential candidates debate represents the third for Williams. In September 2003, he moderated a CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic candidates debate and in early 2000, a Republican candidates debate in South Carolina.

Nightly News with Brian Williams will also originate live in HD from the campus of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina on April 26.

In addition to moderating the Reagan Library debate, Chris Matthews will bring his program, Hardball, to the site of both debates for complete analysis of the "First in the Nation" debates. Last year, Matthews moderated the Florida gubernatorial and New Orleans mayoral debates. "Debates put presidential candidates on the same stage. That's the way voters like to see them, squaring off, testing their wits, competing with ideas. These joint appearances are the main events of every presidential election. It's an honor to be moderating the first Republican Debate," said Matthews. "This is the first chance for voters to see these candidates relate to each other and it's a perfect time in the campaign to see how they compare. My goal is to give each candidate a maximum opportunity to present his positions."

MSNBC, which has extensively featured political coverage in its regularly scheduled programming and in its acclaimed series of "politics days," will preview both debates with a full day of coverage on April 26th and May 3rd. The network will also air comprehensive analysis of the debate upon its conclusion. Complete details will be released at a later date. Comprehensive coverage of these debates will be available at MSNBC's political web site,, powered by National Journal.