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Bush, Forbes OK Dec. 13 Debate

November 4, 1999

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Republican presidential front-runner George W. Bush has agreed to participate in a live, televised Iowa debate Dec. 13. Publisher Steve Forbes also signed on, and it was expected that other candidates would as well.

``I would expect we’ll have some company,″ said Bush spokesman Eric Woolson.

Bush, who has been criticized for rivals for not participating in campaign debates thus far, initially said he wouldn’t participate in debates until January. Aides said last week he would debate in December and was sorting through the many offers that had been made.

The Dec. 13 debate is being sponsored by Des Moines television station WHO, an NBC affiliate. It has ties to the Iowa News Network, a string of other NBC affiliates around the state, and with WHO radio to offer broadcast coverage throughout much of the state.

The one-hour debate will be broadcast live and feature a panel of journalists questioning the candidates. Station officials said they were still searching for a site because its studios can’t accommodate the crush that would come from a high-profile debate.

There was no immediate word from conservatives Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes, but they likely would jump at the chance to share a stage with Bush in an event certain to get heavy attention.

More in question was Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has opted to bypass Iowa’s leadoff caucuses and focus on the New Hampshire primary.

``I’ll check it out,″ said aide Todd Harris, when asked if McCain would participate in the debate.

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