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The Race to the White House

3 Bush-Kerry Debates Are Reportedly in the Works

September 20, 2004|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — The campaigns of President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry are working on the final details for a series of presidential debates to begin at the end of the month.

One person familiar with the debate negotiations said late Sunday that the two sides had tentatively agreed to hold three debates in two weeks beginning Sept. 30.

The Bush campaign denied there was any agreement.

"No deal has been reached. Reports of a tentative agreement -- I don't even know what that means -- are false," said Nicolle Devenish, communications director for the Bush campaign.

Details of the debates were being negotiated by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III for Bush and attorney Vernon E. Jordan Jr. for Kerry. It was not clear when any agreement would be announced.

A source familiar with the debate negotiations said there was a tentative deal for three debates but that some details were still being worked out.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity since the agreement was not final. But Devenish said Baker had told his staff that there was not a deal.

The tentative agreement also calls for one vice presidential debate, Oct. 5, between Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Edwards, Kerry's running mate.

The source said the two campaigns had agreed on the dates and sites proposed by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates -- Sept. 30 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.; Oct. 8 at Washington University in St. Louis; and Oct. 13 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.

Each of the debates would begin at 6 p.m. Pacific time and would run 90 minutes.

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