Overlooked by the commission that schedules presidential debates, New Orleans has enlisted Google and YouTube in organizing its own forum, the Times-Picayune reports. The Sept. 18 event, 8 days before the first official debate, is intended to bring the political spotlight to the beleaguered city. Gov. Bobby Jindal touted it as "a discussion of many challenges facing not just New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but our entire country."
A Google VP called the event "an important way for citizens to be actively engaged," and a co-founder said YouTube is "honored to help." Although none of the candidates has committed to attending, both Democrats criticized the debate commission's decision to skip New Orleans, and John McCain last week backed the ongoing recovery effort.