Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson — who with Erskine Bowles chaired a bipartisan commission to tackle the national debt — will appear in Gainesville Wednesday for one public speaking engagement and a couple private events.

Simpson will speak at 6 p.m. in the Pugh Hall Ocora at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida. That event is free and open to the public.

The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce is co-sponsor of the event with the Graham Center, and is hosting Simpson as keynote speaker for the Business Leadership Coalition’s Public Leadership Institute earlier in the day. The coalition was formed by business groups and the institute educates people interested in public office about policy and campaign issues.

Simpson will also be meeting with local elected officials to discuss debt reform, according to Kamal Latham, vice president of public policy at the Chamber.

Latham said Simpson was one of his instructors at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the late 1990s. They kept in touch and Latham invited him to Gainesville.

Simpson served in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 1997 as as a Republican from Wyoming.

In 2010, President Obama appointed him to serve as co-chair with Bowles, former chief of staff to President Clinton, of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The Simpson-Bowles plan won warm reviews from deficit hawks but got a chilly reception from Obama and much of the rest of official Washington for its tough mix of tax increases and cuts to benefits programs like Medicare and Social Security, The Associated Press reported. READ MORE