Countdown to the 36th showdown

We’re now just hours away from watching Rep. Mary Bono Mack and Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz debate domestic and foreign policies in their first and only televised debate.

It starts at 7 p.m. and is co-sponsored and moderated by The Desert Sun and KMIR 6. It will be broadcast live on the NBC affiliate and its sister station, KPSE My13, as well as streamed live on mydesert.com and kmir6.com.

If you don’t want to watch it alone, both political parties are planning watch parties:

– Republicans will be gathering at the R Bar located inside Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa.

– Democrats are meeting at the Indian Canyons Golf Resort in Palm Springs. A $5 donation is requested at the door.

You can also follow the action via Twitter with the hashtag #CVelection.

The last time that Bono Mack, a Palm Springs Republican, debated was in 2010 when she took on then-challenger Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet.

Before that, she hadn’t debated since 2002.

In advance of this year’s debate, a number of Desert Sun readers submitted questions they’d like to see the candidates tackle. While we won’t be able to get to all of them in the hour-long debate, we certainly appreciate all the ideas as they helped us shape the final rundown.

36th debate: What do you want to know?

After more than a year of campaigning, Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack and Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz will face off Friday in their only televised debate for the 36th Congressional race.

As we prepare the list of questions, we want to know what issues you would like the candidates to address.

Tell us your thoughts by commenting on this post or by sending an email to erica.felci@thedesertsun.com.

And don’t forget to tune in to the big event this Friday.

It starts at 7 p.m. and is co-sponsored and moderated by The Desert Sun and KMIR 6. You can watch it live on the NBC affiliate and its sister station, KPSE My13, or online at mydesert.com and kmir6.com.

Presidential debate: Give us your feedback

President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will face off for the first time Wednesday night.

The much-anticipated debate — the first of three scheduled — will start at 6 p.m. local time. It should be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC as well as cable news channels such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

The 90-minute session is expected to focus on the economy, with additional questions on health care and “the role of government,” according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

We’re anxious to get your reactions to what the candidates are saying. Share your reactions to the debate as it unfolds via Twitter by using the hashtag #cvelection in your tweets.

We’ll be watching with you and will feature your tweets in our live debate coverage. A selection of your best tweets may also be included in Thursday’s MyDesert coverage of the debate.

If you want to watch the debate with some like-minded friends, both the Democrats and the Republicans are hosting parties Wednesday night.

– Local Democrats will be at the Stadium Club Sports Bistro in Rancho Mirage, 69-640 Highway 111. Doors open at 5 p.m. A $10 donation is requested.

Reservations: (760) 328-9425

– The Palm Springs Republican Women Federated will be at the Palm Canyon Roadhouse in Palm Springs, 535 S. Palm Canyon Drive. It starts at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for members and $15 for guests.

Reservations: (760) 837-7072

Ruiz accepts debate challenge

For the first time in the 36th Congressional Race, Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz announced today that he would be willing to debate Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

Ruiz, an emergency room physician from Palm Desert, made the revelation in a press release that said he had accepted a televised debate offer from KESQ, KPSP Local 2 and the Spanish language station KVER.

“He believes strongly that every candidate has an obligation to a full and vigorous debate,” Ruiz campaign manager Kyle Layman said in the statement today.

A number of local media outlets — including The Desert Sun — have been in contact with both candidates about organizing a debate.

Bono Mack’s political director did not immediately respond to Ruiz’s challenge. But in earlier conversations with The Desert Sun, Bono Mack’s team has indicated that she is willing to debate Ruiz before Election Day.

Bono Mack’s last televised debate was in 2010, when she faced off against Democratic Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet.

That hour-long event, co-hosted by The Desert Sun and KPSP Local 2, marked the first time since 2002 that Bono Mack had gone head-to-head with her opponent.