Sunlight Live to cover Rick Perry’s debate debut in California


With a new face officially in the mix, eight Republican candidates will take the stage again next week to spar about the economy, jobs, budget deficit and more at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

It will mark the first debate for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who joined the race in August just as former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty threw in the towel. Several of the latest polls now show Perry on the top of the pack, outshining Mitt Romney, who has led the group for several months.

Sunlight Live will cover the debate starting at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Participating in the debate are:

As the candidates campaigned across early-voting states in August, special interest money has certainly started to pour in. Most candidates now have a Super PAC supporting them (and Perry has seven). Super PACs can accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and labor unions as long as they don't support only one candidate or coordinate with his or her official campaign.

Romney is still on top in terms of dollars raised with nearly $18.3 million as of June 30. Paul's next with $4.5 million and then Bachmann with $3.6 million. Santorum brings up the rear with just $582,000 raised. Obama, by comparison, has raised nearly $48.7 million. Perry and Huntsman aren't required to disclose their campaign numbers to the FEC until Oct. 15, though Perry is known for having “Texas-sized” donations behind him.

Romney's top donors so far are mostly a mix of the country's biggest banks, while Paul's are the military and energy groups and Santorum's are health care and insurance companies.

During the event we'll bring you background on the political connections of the candidates and their campaign staffs, context on where some of their policy positions come from and information on their financial backing from specific industries as issues are debated.

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and POLITICO editor in chief John F. Harris will moderate the event. Jose Diaz-Balart, anchor of “Noticiero Telemundo,” will lead a portion of the Q&A session. It will be broadcast on MSBNC, CNBC and in Spanish on Telemundo.

The public can submit yes or no questions for the lightning round of the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #ReaganDebate. In addition to the economy, California-related issues important to voters, like immigration and gay rights, are expected to come up.

Meet us at at 8 p.m. on Wednesday to watch the Reagan Centennial GOP Presidental Primary Candidates Debate and get real-time information on the lobbying, political connections and campaign contibutions behind these eight Republicans. We'll also live blog the debate and fact-check the candidates on our award-winning multimedia platform, Sunlight Live.