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EDITORIAL: Clinton can’t duck questions at Nevada debate

All eyes will be on Nevada on Oct. 13 for the first of six Democratic presidential primary debates. That the state was chosen to host the Democrats’ first meaningful showcase of its presidential field says everything about Nevada’s importance in the nominating process. Southern Nevada, in particular, has a substantial Hispanic population, a large labor presence and a vast middle class with stagnant wages: the kinds of voters Democratic candidates should be courting before next year’s first-in-the-West caucus.

But viewers of all political stripes will be watching the CNN-sponsored debate because — provided the cable network’s moderators do their jobs — the Oct. 13 event likely will feature the first substantive questioning of Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic Party nomination, since she announced her candidacy.

The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state has run a tightly controlled campaign with next to zero press availability. That’s by design. She’s been ducking questions for so long about so many issues, from her speaking fees to her family foundation to the 2012 attack on the Benghazi consulate, that she doesn’t dare give journalists an opportunity to bring up all the things she doesn’t want to talk about. In fact, she’s so determined to not answer questions that earlier this year, she pretended to have a conversation with someone while exiting a building — when no one was around her — to stymie staked-out reporters.

She even dodges questions from the carefully screened voters allowed access to her campaign events. In June, she refused to tell a New Hampshire resident her position on the Keystone XL pipeline.

The backlog of unanswered questions also includes her use of a private computer server to conduct government business while she was secretary of state. On Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton said she would turn over that server and a thumb drive to federal investigators examining potential security violations.

Of course, we’d be thrilled if Mrs. Clinton would change her approach and take questions from journalists — unconditionally — when she visits Las Vegas on Tuesday. If she doesn’t, she runs the risk that she’ll spend so much time in October’s debate addressing myriad controversies that she won’t have adequate time to do what she needs to do most: try to make a personal connection with voters who increasingly dislike and distrust her … because she doesn’t answer questions.

Nevadans await Mrs. Clinton’s answers.

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