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Debates may be two-party affairs


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 7, 2000

WASHINGTON -- The Reform Party's presidential candidate and anyone else other than the Republican and Democratic nominees could well be excluded from televised debates this fall under rules set Thursday by a special debate commission.

Pat Buchanan, the former Republican who is seeking the Reform Party nomination, called the rules "a Beltway conspiracy by the two parties" and said he would fight them with the Federal Election Commission and, if necessary, in court.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, a non-partisan group set up in 1987 as an impartial sponsor of the debates, said the stage for the nationally televised debates would be limited to candidates showing at least 15 percent support in national polls.

The commission also released the three sites and dates for the debates: the John F. Kennedy Library and University of Massachusetts in Boston on Oct. 3; Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Oct. 11; and Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 17. There also will be one vice presidential debate, on Oct. 5, at Centre College in Danville, Ky.

Jeb Bush plans trip to aid brother's campaign

WEST PALM BEACH -- More than 100 Floridians are joining Gov. Jeb Bush for a one-day trip to New Hampshire to help his big brother win the Feb. 1 primary.

Flying in a chartered 727, Bush and supporters will spend less than a day knocking on doors looking for votes for Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

"This is a way to show Florida's support and do what we can to help in a key state," said Jillian Inmon, Bush's state campaign organizer.

The plane leaves Miami at 6:30 a.m. Jan. 15. The flight stops in Tallahassee to pick up the governor and North Florida backers and then goes to Manchester, N.H.

Each of the volunteers is paying $425 for the trip. The brigade of Florida volunteers gets back on the plane at 7 that night for the return flight to the Sunshine State.

U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami and Joe Scarborough of Pensacola will be among the door-knockers. Bush will likely be greeted by his son, George, who is working in New Hampshire for his uncle's campaign before going to law school.

Bush's wife, Columba, is not going on the trip.

Tonight's GOP debate

WHERE: South Carolina Silver Elephant Banquet, West Columbia, S.C

WHEN: 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

SPONSOR: South Carolina Republican Party.

MODERATORS: Brian Williams of NBC News and David Stanton of WIS-TV in Columbia.

COVERAGE: Live on MSNBC, National Public Radio.

Today on the trail

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