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Bush Team, Networks Discuss Debates

September 1, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Campaign advisers for George W. Bush held a second round of meetings Thursday with network officials to discuss this fall’s presidential debates but still have not made any decisions, a campaign spokeswoman said.

The team met with representatives from FOX, NBC and PBS after holding similar sessions on Wednesday with representatives of CNN, ABC and CBS.

All six networks have offered to host debates.

The trio of advisers to Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, will meet Friday with the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has recommended three 90-minute prime-time debates, all to be held in October, said campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker.

Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore has accepted the commission’s recommendations, along with other various debate invitations. So far, the Bush team has made no commitments.

Attempting to pressure Bush, Gore campaign chairman William Daley informed CNN on Thursday that the campaign will consider its offer for a one-hour debate with host Larry King only after Bush has agreed to the commission-sponsored debates.

Daley said the commission debates will reach the largest possible audience.

``We will actively consider invitations for debates from sponsors other than the commission after agreement has been reached on the commission prime-time debates,″ Daley wrote in a letter to Tom Johnson, chairman and chief executive of CNN. ``Any other approach will deprive too many Americans of the real discussion on issues they deserve.″

Bush has made clear his preference for relatively informal debates, such as the session during the Republican primaries in which the candidates sat around a table with talk-show host King.

``We’ve been meeting with people this week. We have not made any decision about debates yet,″ Tucker said. ``We look forward to debate Al Gore soon.″

Joining Allbaugh in the meetings were campaign chairman Don Evans and adviser Andrew Card.

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