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THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

Presidential Debates Are Set

September 21, 2004|From Associated Press

DERRY, N.H. — Negotiators for President Bush and Democrat John F. Kerry agreed Monday to three 90-minute debates beginning Sept. 30, including one "town hall" format with questions from undecided voters.

The two campaigns essentially went along with recommendations from the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates -- except for the proposed subject matter of the first and third debates.

The topic of the first meeting will be foreign policy and domestic security, rather than the economy, as the commission had suggested. The final debate, which was to be on foreign policy, will be about the economy.

Details of the agreement were announced by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, the chief negotiator for Bush, and attorney Vernon E. Jordan Jr. for Kerry.

The first debate will be Sept. 30 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

The second, a "town hall"-style format, will be Oct. 8 at Washington University in St. Louis, and the third will be held Oct. 13 at Arizona State University in Tempe.

One debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards will take place Oct. 5 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Kerry's campaign agreed to the commission's proposal for venues, dates and moderators in July, about a month after the commission released its schedule. Bush's campaign at first sought to limit the scope to two presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, according to those familiar with the negotiations.

The campaigns also agreed to the panel's choice of moderators: Jim Lehrer of PBS for the first, Charles Gibson of ABC for the second, Bob Schieffer of CBS for the third, and Gwen Ifill of PBS for the vice presidential debate.

The commission only invited the two major-party candidates.

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