Lifetime Television planned to kick off its "Our Lifetime Commitment: Every Woman Counts" campaign Sunday night with a forum featuring Democratic presidential candidates in New Hampshire.
Lifetime co-sponsored the forum with ABC News, whose correspondent, Claire Shipman, was expected to moderate the event at Dartmouth College. Candidates were to answer questions from women's leaders, students and New Hampshire voters.
The New Hampshire presidential primary will be held on Jan. 27.
Gen. Wesley Clark and Dennis Kucinich were the only Democratic presidential hopefuls that Lifetime had booked by last Wednesday. Lifetime executive vice president of public affairs and corporate communications Meredith Wagner said the network hoped to line up more candidates before the forum.
"We're very optimistic. Women are obviously a significant audience for [the candidates] and this is really a great opportunity for them to reach them, especially since this race is so close," Wagner said.
For the Every Woman Counts campaign, Lifetime partnered with the nonpartisan National Women's Political Caucus to conduct training sessions, with the goal of encouraging women to run for political office. Lifetime was also expected to release a poll over the weekend focused on the concerns facing American women and how the presidential candidates are addressing them.
Lifetime, which also plans to stage events at the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer, won't endorse any of the presidential hopefuls.
"We would never tell our viewers who to vote for or how to feel about a candidate," Wagner said. "All we want to do is raise the questions we know our viewers want answered, and we have a platform to raise the questions."
The campaign is part of Lifetime's broad "Our Lifetime Commitment" public affairs program. Lifetime also runs a "Stop Violence Against Women" campaign and an initiative aimed at building self-esteem for women called "Be Your Own Hero."
The network takes some of the feedback it generates from the public affairs programs and incorporates issues raised by participants into some of the story lines featured in its original programming, such as The Division, Wagner said.
For example, for its annual Stop Violence Against Women efforts, Lifetime sends writers and producers to Washington to meet with legislators, experts and leaders from nonprofit organizations to ask, "What's not being covered, what are the messages that we need to get across, what are some stories that you'd like to be told?" Wagner said.
"It's amazing because we've come away with some incredibly great and rich information and it's also guided us in terms of the accuracy and topicality of our messaging," Wagner added.