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Democrats Continue Debate Squabble

February 11, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Al Gore and Bill Bradley continued to disagree Thursday over planning for a series of debates leading up to the round of March 7 primaries and caucuses.

Bradley’s campaign halted discussions after Gore’s representatives removed as a possibility a Feb. 16 debate that the campaigns had tentatively agreed upon.

Both campaigns have agreed to debates on Feb. 21 and March 1, but there was no indication that talks about scheduling additional debates would continue.

``We had tentatively agreed to debate on the 16th, which unfortunately looks like it won’t be happening ... based on the unwillingness of the Gore campaign to commit″ to the date, said Bradley spokeswoman Kristen Ludecke. ``We don’t know what the sticking point is.″

Gore spokesman Douglas Hattaway did not deny Ludecke’s assertion, but said the Feb. 16 date was never solidified. He also said Gore’s schedule is no longer as open as it was last year when he first proposed that they have biweekly debates in lieu of running campaign ads.

``There was tentative discussion about (Feb. 16), but that is what tentative means,″ Hattaway said.

Bradley’s refusal to end campaign advertising also is a major issue, he added.

Both sides jabbed at each other in letters Thursday.

Tony Coelho, Gore’s campaign chairman, wrote that the vice president will not allow his schedule to be ``dictated by a rival campaign. Doug Berman, chairman of Bradley’s campaign, said Gore’s inflexibility in scheduling shows that he ``is not serious″ about his own debate proposal.

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