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There will be three debates, though there is no “final” agreement yet on the town hall debate’s scope. That’s the one Bush wanted to avoid because he may get “partisan” questions from the undecided voters.

The debates will be spread over two weeks just before the hectic homestretch of a bitter contest, which had been tied for months until Bush recently opened a small lead in a number of national polls. The nominees will focus on foreign policy during the opening session, on Sept. 30 in Florida; they will take questions from undecided voters at the town-meeting-style debate Oct. 8 in Missouri; and they will conclude with a session on Oct. 13 in Arizona that will revolve around domestic issues.

Vice President Cheney and Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards will debate Oct. 5 in Ohio. Each of the four debates will begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time and will run 90 minutes.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding