By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ
Spanish-language Telemundo network announced Thursday it will host its first presidential primary debate in December.
The Republican primary debate will be held in Las Vegas and comes weeks before the early primaries begin.
The locale is key, as Nevada is one of two early primary states with a growing number of Latino voters. Florida is the other.
Top Telemundo news anchor Jose Diaz-Balart will host the debate, which will be broadcast in Spanish.
Telemundo spokesman Alfredo Richard said the network is still hammering out the details and is in conversations with the candidates.
"The debate will most likely mix both English and Spanish to accommodate the needs both of the candidates and our viewers," he said in an email to The Associated Press.
The program will cover immigration, the economy, health care and education.
Telemundo is producing the debate with its sister network NBC News, which will also broadcast the program. Both are owned by NBC Universal. Telemundo has partnered with NBC networks in the past, but it has never taken the lead on a debate.
During last month's MSNBC GOP primary debate, the cable network had Diaz-Balart come on only for a few minutes to ask the candidates about immigration. That decision was widely panned by bloggers as patronizing and awkward at best.
Besides being one of the nation's top Spanish-language news anchors, the award-winning Diaz-Balart frequently guest-hosts news programs on MSNBC.
He is also the brother of former and current Florida GOP U.S. Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart.
Telemundo's announcement comes after at least six of the GOP candidates said they would not appear at a debate proposed by Spanish-language rival Univision over that network's handling of a story on a relative of Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
If the candidates all agree to appear on the Telemundo debate, it would be a major coup for the fast-growing Miami-based network.
Source: The Associated Press