Soon after the end of this week's Republican National Convention in New York, the Bush-Cheney campaign plans to create a negotiating team of lawyers to handle debate talks with Sen. John Kerry's campaign. Bush campaign insiders said they expect to eventually agree to the three debates already suggested in Florida, Missouri and Arizona by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Officials in New York have so far ducked questions about debates, hoping not to open negotiations in public with the Kerry team, which has been pushing reporters to ask why the president hasn't already agreed to a debate lineup. "The reality is that both sides will sit down at the table and come up with terms," said a senior Bush campaign official. While they don't want to debate in public, the spin game has already begun on the Bush side. Aides this week are describing Kerry as a skilled talker with 20 years of Senate debates under his belt. They also point out how he used debates against popular former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld during their recent Senate fight. "It won't be easy debating Kerry," said a Bush aide. Paul Bedard, U.S. News