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UPDATE: Clinton, O'Malley eye NH debate

The New Hampshire Union Leader, the state's largest newspaper, will host a Democratic debate in New Hampshire just five days before Granite State voters go to the polls. The event upholds a longstanding tradition and will be the Democratic presidential candidates’ only face-to-face debate after the Iowa caucuses and before the first-in-the-nation primary.

The announcement comes after weeks of grassroots efforts by both undecided Granite Staters and supporters of the Democratic presidential candidates to have a final opportunity to hear from the candidates in a debate setting before voting begins. Such a debate has been held in New Hampshire before the primary in every cycle where there has been a contested election since 1984.

"Our readers have demanded a debate to help them see who is most fit to be the Democratic nominee for President," said Joseph W. McQuaid, president and publisher of the Union Leader. "We were always concerned that this would have been the first time in 32 years without a Democratic debate before the New Hampshire primary. We are glad to partner with MSNBC to ensure Granite Staters have the information they need to make a critical decision on Feb. 9."

"Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd and MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow will moderate the debate, which will also include questions from local reporters, live on MSNBC in prime time on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Jen Palmieri, a spokesman for Sen. Hillary Clinton said, “Hillary Clinton would be happy to participate in a debate in New Hampshire if the other candidates agree, which would allow the DNC to sanction the debate.”

John Bivona, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O’Malley said, “Today is a big victory not only for our campaign and our supporters that championed this effort, but it is also a victory for voters across New Hampshire and the United States. We look forward to participating."

Tickets will be available to the public and members of the media will be invited to cover the event. More information will be released in the New Hampshire Union Leader and at in the coming days.

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