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Inside Politics

Kerry accepts proposed debate schedule

Proposed Dates
September 30
First Presidential Debate; University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida

October 5
Vice-Presidential Debate; Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland

October 8
Second Presidential Debate; Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri

October 13
Third Presidential Debate; Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona
• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Kerry-Edwards campaign has accepted a schedule for three presidential debates and one vice- presidential debate, the campaign announced Thursday.

The Commission on Presidential Debates needs to hear whether the Bush-Cheney campaign will accept the same proposed dates before the schedule is approved.

Then the commission will turn to topics and formats for the debate.

Steve Schmidt, spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, would not say when a decision might be reached on the schedule.

"We look forward to a vigorous debate with the Kerry campaign on the issues. We welcome the opportunity to discuss the terms at the appropriate time," Schmidt said.

In making the announcement Thursday, the Democrats again contrasted the two campaigns and said the difference will be clear during the debates.

"Voters will see the fundamental choice in this campaign -- between the Kerry-Edwards' optimistic vision to build a stronger America and the failed Bush-Cheney record that has divided America and made us less safe," the campaign said in a statement.

Presidential debates became a routine part of general elections in 1976, following a 16-year gap after Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy participated in four televised debates.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates was established in 1987 to provide voters "the best possible information," according to its Web site.

The commission facilitates negotiations between every involved party to determine the schedule, format and rules.

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