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January 11, 2012

NBCPolitics.com, the digital home for the latest political headlines, insight and analysis powered by NBC News and msnbc.com, announced that it will host an exclusive debate with members of the Tea Party and Occupy movements. MSNBC TV’s Richard Lui will moderate the “Tea and Occupy” discussion which will take place in a Google Plus Hangout and will be live streamed on NBCPolitics.com from 4-5 p.m. (ET) today.

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Each movement has generated considerable attention and helped shape the conversation heading into the 2012 presidential election, yet seldom have the two sides engaged in a dialogue, until now. NBCPolitics.com will bring together six members of the two movements – three Occupy protesters and three members of Tea Party affiliated groups.

“We’ve heard people from both groups discuss the issues that are important to them, and even share their views of the other group,” said Mike Brunker, msnbc.com projects editor. “But this seemed like a great opportunity to put supporters of both movements in the same virtual room for an actual conversation.”

NBCPolitics.com will ask the participants about the issues most important to them, similarities and differences between the two movements and the impact they feel they are having on the political process. Consumers can be a part of the discussion by submitting questions and comments on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/NBCPolitics), Google Plus or on Twitter (http://twitter.com/nbcpolitics) using the hashtag #occupytea.

The NBC Politics team encountered these individuals in the course of reporting on the two movements. Below is a snapshot of the panelists. More information about the debate participants can be found here: http://on.msnbc.com/z4KvhR.

Occupy Debate Participants
· Sergio Ballesteros, 30 from the Los Angeles area. A high school teacher for four years, he is now pursuing his master’s degree in urban teaching at UCLA.
· Elli Whiteway, 21, a senior Christian ethics major at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., who is involved in the Occupy Nashville protest. Her interest in community, dialogue, ethics and social justice motivated her to seek out and support the local movement. Her parents are Tea Party supporters.
· Tim Weldon, 35, of Poughquag, N.Y., left his part-time job helping the disabled to find work to take up “occupation.” He has a master’s degree and used to work in post-conflict reconstruction and development in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.

Tea Party Debate Participants
· Monica Boyer, 36 of Warsaw, Ind., works as a college secretary. Boyer co-founded Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, aimed at defeating longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in the primaries next spring.
· Chuck MacNab, 79, a retired airline captain from O’Fallon, Mo. He is a founder of K & N Patriots--named for the high traffic intersection of state supplemental roads K and N, where the group holds a rally and meeting every two weeks at a corner gas station.
· Sharon Snyder, 74, of Madison Heights, Mich., is a member of MODESCO and the Troy Area Tea Party Michigan, a Christian Tea Party affiliated group.

For more news, insight and analysis from the NBC News Political Unit, users can visit NBCPolitics.com and @NBCPolitics.

Media contact:
Gina Stikes
t: (212) 664-7403
e: gina.stikes@msnbc.com

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