BALTIMORE (AP) – It may prove taxing to their vocal chords, but all nine Democratic presidential hopefuls plan to participate in two televised debates within a single week next month.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Thursday that the candidates will attend the Sept. 9 event at Morgan State University – five days after another debate in Albuquerque, N.M.

The debate was organized by the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education Leadership Institute and Fox News Channel.

Cummings described the partnership as “a major, major accomplishment for the Congressional Black Caucus,” which has 39 members, all Democrats.

The campaigns worked closely with the Democratic National Committee to settle on six televised debates spread throughout the late summer and fall to avoid conflicts with other candidate events.

The Baltimore debate will be the seventh. It also will be the third in September; Democrats have a debate in New York Sept. 25.

Last month, three Democrats failed to show for the NAACP convention, drawing the ire of the organization’s leadership. They eventually addressed the group days later, apologizing for their absence. The candidates quickly accepted the caucus’ invitation for Baltimore to avoid any slights.

Lieberman loses ground

Joe Lieberman has lost ground among likely voters in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary after leading in state polls for months. The Connecticut senator had 14 percent support in the poll released Thursday by the American Research Group, down from 19 percent in April. The drop in South Carolina mirrors Lieberman’s dwindling lead in a Michigan poll released Wednesday.

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was at 10 percent in the poll. Almost half of those surveyed, 48 percent, were undecided.

The remaining candidates were in the single digits.

The poll of 600 likely voters was taken Aug. 2-6 and had an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The South Carolina primary is scheduled for Feb. 3.

The former campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun is joining rival Howard Dean’s campaign.

Andrea Pringle will become Dean’s deputy campaign manager and focus on constituent outreach for the former Vermont governor. Pringle left Braun’s staff in June after the former Illinois senator consolidated her campaign organization due to financial problems.

Pringle has spent time on Jesse Jackson’s two presidential campaigns, worked at the National Rainbow Coalition and served as communications director for the NAACP’s National Voter Fund.

Associated Press Writers Will Lester and Sam Hananel in Washington contributed to this report.

AP-ES-08-07-03 2159EDT

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