Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) spoke with The Washington Post's Paul Kane ahead of the first Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas about who he might endorse in 2016, dysfunction in Congress, his career in the Senate and his plans after retirement. (Washington Post Live)

2016 Pregame | Oct. 12, 2015

The night before the first Democratic presidential primary debate, strategists, journalists and policymakers gathered to network, enjoy live entertainment and discuss the state of the race and the pressing issues of the 2016 presidential campaign.


Rep. Dina Titus, (D-Nev.), Republican strategist Sig Rogich, Univision news anchor María Elena Salinas and The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart breakdown the demographics presidential candidates need to appease to win an election. (Washington Post Live)
James Murren, chairman and chief executive of MGM Resorts International, gave opening remarks at The Washington Post's 2016 Pregame event on Oct. 12 in Las Vegas. (The Washington Post)
Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter, "Ralston Live" host Jon Ralston, syndicated radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt and The Washington Post's Dan Balz preview the rhetoric expected from the first Democratic presidential primary race. (Washington Post Live)

[Reid says he will weigh in with Iran on the conviction of Post reporter Jason Rezaian]



5:00 p.m. | COCKTAILS


-Steven Ginsberg, National Political Editor, The Washington Post

-James Murren, Chief Executive, MGM Resorts


Reflections from a senior statesman

-Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

Interviewed by Paul Kane, Congressional Reporter, The Washington Post


The politics of demographics: Who holds the keys to the White House?

-Rep. Dina Titus, (D-Nev.)

-Sig Rogich, Republican Strategist; President, The Rogich Communications Group

-María Elena Salinas, Network News Anchor, Univision

Moderated by Jonathan Capehart, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post


What to expect from the debate

-Stephanie Cutter, Democratic Strategist; Partner, Precision Strategies

-Jon Ralston, Host, “Ralston Live”

-Hugh Hewitt, Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Salem Radio Network

Moderated by Dan Balz, Chief Correspondent, The Washington Post


-Lois Romano, Editor, Washington Post Live

Performing live:


ELEW — a revolutionary jazz pianist — will perform at Monday’s event in Las Vegas. Considered one of most innovative and unconventional jazz musicians of his generation, ELEW has a dramatic, active of style of playing. His real name is Eric Lewis. ELEW has toured with Wynton Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson, among others. He won the 1999 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition.


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Stephanie Cutter
Partner, Precision Strategies

From the halls of Congress, to the campaign trail, the West Wing and the C-suite, Stephanie Cutter has crafted communications and crisis-management strategies for the nation’s leading campaigns and corporations. Most recently, Cutter was deputy campaign manager for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. She oversaw communications, media, policy, and research, and was a member of the senior strategy team. She also served as chairman of the board for the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee. Before joining the campaign, Cutter was deputy senior adviser to President Obama, managing message strategy and issue development. From January to May 2009, she served as counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. She was chief spokesperson for the Obama-Biden transition and served as Michelle Obama’s chief of staff on the 2008 Obama for America campaign. In 2006, Cutter started the Cutter Media Group, a strategic communications firm that specializes in designing and implementing public affairs strategies. From January 2005 to March 2006, she was a senior advisor to Sen. Harry Reid and Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy. Cutter was communications director for the Kerry-Edwards 2004 presidential campaign. From 1994 to 2001, she held various positions in the Clinton Administration, including White House deputy communications director and deputy assistant to the president. Cutter was a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics. She has taught at Johns Hopkins University, and has lectured at Smith College, American University and the University of Pennsylvania.


Hugh Hewitt
Syndicated Talk Show Host, Salem Radio Network

Hugh Hewitt is a lawyer, law professor and broadcast journalist whose nationally syndicated radio show is heard in more than 120 cities, reaching more than 2 million people. Hewitt has been teaching constitutional law at Chapman University Law School since it opened in 1995. He is a frequent guest on CNN, Fox News Network and MSNBC, and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. Hewitt has received three Emmys for his work as co-host of the ground-breaking Life & Times program, a nightly news and public affairs program that aired on the Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET, from 1992 until 2007. Hewitt also conceived and hosted the 1996 PBS series, “Searching for God in America.” He is the author of a dozen books, including two New York Times best-sellers.

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Jon Ralston
Host, “Ralston Live”

Jon Ralston has been covering politics in Nevada for more than a quarter-century, and is recognized as the foremost expert in the state. He is a columnist for the Reno Gazette-Journal and hosts the weekly program “Ralston Live,” broadcasted on PBS affiliates in Nevada. Ralston publishes an e-mail newsletter, called “Flash,” that sets the political agenda for the day and contains analysis. He is also a contributing editor at Politico Magazine. Previously, Ralston was at the Las Vegas Review-Journal for 15 years. He joined in 1984 as the night police reporter and later covered general assignment and county government before becoming a political reporter in 1986. In 1999, the Greenspun Media Group purchased his political newsletter The Ralston Report. He published columns in the Las Vegas Sun until September 2012.

Harry Reid

Sen. Harry Reid

Sen. Harry Reid announced in March that he will retire at the end of his current term in office. Since he came to the Senate in 1986, Reid has aimed to promote economic development, infrastructure investment, clean energy, affordable health care, Social Security and military readiness. Reid was elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 1968, at age 28. In Carson City, as a young assemblyman, he introduced the first air pollution legislation in Nevada’s history. In 1970, at the age of 30, Reid became the youngest lieutenant governor in Nevada history, winning election as Gov. Mike O’Callaghan’s running mate. In 1977, he was appointed chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. Reid returned to his private law practice for a few years, and, in 1982, won the first of two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the Senate, he has served as the chairman or senior Democratic member on several committees and subcommittees, and is the current Senate Democratic Leader.


Rep. Dina Titus

Rep. Dina Titus taught American and Nevada government classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for 34 years until her retirement in June 2011. She represented the people of Senate District 7 in the Nevada Legislature for 20 years, serving as the Democratic Minority Leader from 1993 to 2008. Titus was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Nevada’s 3rd congressional district in November 2008. She served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Education and Labor Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. She also served as whip for the Western states and was a member of numerous issue caucuses during the 111th Congress.

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María Elena Salinas
Network News Anchor, Univision

María Elena Salinas is one of the most recognized Hispanic female journalists in the U.S. She is a co-anchor of the nightly newscast “Noticiero Univision” and co-host of the news magazine “Aquí y Ahora.” Salinas has held high-profile interviews with Latin American heads of state, rebel leaders, dictators, and every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter. She began her career as a television reporter for KMEX-34 Los Angeles in 1981. Salinas participated in the first ever bilingual national Democratic presidential candidate debate on Hispanic issues in 2004, and again in 2007, co-hosting the first ever Democratic and Republican presidential candidate forums in Spanish on the Univision Network. In 2012, she was part of the Univision News team that won the King of Spain International Journalism Award for the special “El Gran Encuentro.”

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Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

As chair of the Democratic National Committee for the past four years,  Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s  goal has been to elect Democrats across the country. In early May, the DNC  announced six presidential primary debates this cycle. Wasserman Schultz has represented Florida’s 23rd Congressional district, which includes parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, since January 2005. She was previously a representative and senator in the Florida State Legislature. Wasserman Schultz is a member of the House Committee on Appropriations and is a ranking member of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee. In 2011 she joined the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, a bipartisan Members’ organization dedicated to promoting women’s economic, health, legal and educational interests.


Sig Rogich
President, The Rogich Communications Group

Sig Rogich is a long-time republican campaign strategist. He is a former U.S. ambassador to his native country of Iceland and was a senior assistant to former President George H.W. Bush in the White House. Active in local and national politics, Rogich has worked on numerous local, gubernatorial and congressional campaigns as well as the presidential campaigns for President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush and presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain. Rogich founded R&R Advertising and built it into the largest advertising agency in Nevada. Through his creative endeavors with R&R, he has been involved in the reinvention of Las Vegas’ image for more than 20 years.


Lois Romano

Lois Romano
Editor, Washington Post Live

Lois Romano is the editor of Washington Post Live, the Post’s live journalism platform. She is the point person, producer and content driver for the newsroom on all journalistic events and the liaison to the business team. She was most recently the editorial director of POLITICO’s live journalism, where she shaped content for the organization’s 75 events including its multi-platform Women Rule and What Works series. Before joining POLITICO, she was a longtime political reporter for The Post’s national staff, profiling national leaders and covering politics, policy and business. In 1992, she developed the Post’s then-new daily personality column, Reliable Source. As a regional correspondent based in the southwest, she covered national issues including the fall of Enron, the death penalty and both Oklahoma City bombing trials in Denver.

Dan Balz
Chief Correspondent, The Washington Post

Dan Balz is chief correspondent at The Washington Post. He joined The Post in 1978 and has been involved in political coverage throughout his career there. He has won numerous awards for his reporting and is a regular panelist on PBS’s “Washington Week.” He appears frequently on other public affairs programs and is the author of four books.


Jonathan Capehart
Columnist, The Washington Post

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog. He is also an MSNBC contributor, appearing regularly on Hardball and other dayside programs. Capehart was the deputy editor of New York Daily News’s editorial page from 2002 to 2005 and worked as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his campaign for mayor of New York City. He was a national affairs columnist for Bloomberg News from 2000 to 2001 and was a member of the Daily News editorial board from 1993 to 2000. Capehart and the Daily News editorial board won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for their series on the Apollo Theater in Harlem.


Paul Kane
Congressional Reporter, The Washington Post

Paul Kane joined The Washington Post in January 2007, launching a blog about Congress and later becoming senior congressional correspondent. He’s covered legislative battles over rescuing Wall Street and the domestic economy, the fight over Obamacare, the Republican takeover of the House in 2011 and the ensuing fiscal showdowns between Republicans and President Obama. He previously worked at Roll Call, covering the Senate and then a series of ethical scandals that engulfed Congress a decade ago. Kane came to Washington in 1995, starting at States News Service.

Additional speakers will be announced. Biographies are provided by speakers and edited only for length and clarity. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Robert Bierman.