CNN sets values forum for candidates


NEW YORK -- CNN will televise a forum with the two Democratic presidential candidates focused on faith and values topics, the network confirmed Monday.

The Compassion Forum, which will air Sunday, April 13, on the network, wont' be a traditional debate. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will attend and spend about 40 minutes each answering questions but won't be on stage at the same time.

Moderating the forum, which is sponsored by Faith in Public Life, will be CNN anchor Campbell Brown and Newsweek editor Jon Meacham. The event will be held at Messiah College, a Christian college located near Harrisburg, Pa.

The focus of the forum will be on issues such as the global AIDS crisis, poverty and human rights. Some of the questions will come from the audience, which will be made up of faith leaders from all over the country who have been invited.

"These are issues that have not gotten as much attention in the campaign. It's an opportunity to talk to the candidates in a little different way than you would get in a debate," said Sam Feist, CNN's political director. "We have the luxury of time with the candidates."

McCain has also been invited, but it isn't clear whether he'll attend. In any event, McCain will be invited to a planned future forum that will also be televised with the eventual Democratic nominee.

CNN has had some experience with events of this nature, having partnered with Sojourners on a similar forum last June at the National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. That was attended by Obama, Clinton and then-candidate John Edwards. At the Pennsylvania event, CNN will offer special telecasts anchored by chief national correspondent John King on Saturday and Sunday before the event.

Meanwhile, CBS hasn't heard back from the Obama campaign on what would be Katie Couric's first debate of the presidential primary season. The Clinton campaign agreed within a few hours of CBS's offer Thursday of 90 minutes following "60 Minutes" ahead of the May 6 North Carolina primary Obama had agreed to an earlier debate in North Carolina that wasn't workable due to Passover.