Tuesday, September 21, 2004

3 Debates It Is...

Schedule is as follows:

September 30
Location: University of Miami at Coral Gables
Moderator: Jim Lehrer of PBS's NewsHour
Format: sitting at a table

October 8
Location: Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Moderator: Charlie Gibson of Good Morning America
Format: town-hall meeting; voters will ask questions

October 13
Location: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Moderator: Bob Schieffer of Face The Nation
Format: sittimg at a table
Theme: foreign policy

There was some question as to whether Bush would approve one of the debates, specifically, the second one at which the candidates were to answer questions from undecided voters in the audience. As Kerry amusingly put it on Regis and Kelly this morning, Bush wanted to work it so he could have a lifeline -- so he could phone a friend during the second debate.

Conventional wisdom is that debates present more downside than upside for incumbents. In fact, Clinton reduced the number of debates in 1996 to 2 from 3 but he was in a much stronger position against Dole than Bush is against Kerry. Bush has given in on this issue, agreeing to all three debates with one minor concession: the audience at the second debate will be filled with "soft supporters" of either Bush or Kerry, as opposed to "undecided voters."


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