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NRA to co-host teleconferences with presidential hopefuls

WASHINGTON The National Restaurant Association is collaborating on a new program that will allow members to participate in telephone conferences with U.S. presidential candidates, starting next Tuesday with Sen. John McCain.

The association said the “Tuesday Town Halls” would function much like a radio call-in show. Members use their telephones to listen to the candidates and pose questions. Participation is limited to members of the NRA and its partners in the initiative, the National Federation of Independent Business and Associated Builders and Contractors.

McCain is scheduled to speak with members of the groups on Oct. 16. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will participate in the Tuesday Town Hall on Oct. 30. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is scheduled to participate on Nov. 6, and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson will speak on Nov. 13. The Town Halls all begin at 3 p.m. Eastern time.

So far, all the candidates scheduled to speak are seeking the Republican nomination for president. The NRA said invitations also have been extended to Democratic hopefuls Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as former U.S. senator John Edwards and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

The town meetings will provide an opportunity for NRA members to hear the candidates address such issues of concern to the foodservice industry as health care, taxes and regulation, said Dawn Sweeney, the NRA’s new president and chief executive officer. Sweeney, who previously ran the services arm of AARP, is widely expected to broaden the services that are extended by the association to its members.

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