Clinton and Dole debate taking on Perot

With 10 days to go to the first scheduled candidates' debate, the campaign teams of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole must this week resolve a key question: whether or not Ross Perot should be allowed to take part.

Negotiators seek this week to finalise a format and schedule for the debates, the best - and arguably the last - chance for Mr Dole to erode the President's lead in the polls.

Technically, Mr Perot's inclusion will be determined by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, according to various criteria. In fact it is an exquisitely political decision that must ultimately be settled in a deal between the Dole and Clinton camps.

The underlying assumption is that the billionaire Texan, this time running for the Reform Party, will split the anti-Clinton vote and make the President's re-election even more likely. The Republicans, therefore, want to keep him out; for exactly the same reasons Mr Clinton's advisers want Mr Perot in.

Thus far the haggling has got nowhere, while the commission's rules send mixed signals. On the basis of his 1992 performance, when as an independent he won 19 per cent of the vote, Mr Perot is receiving $30m (pounds 20m) of federal funds for his campaign. He is on the ballot in enough states to have a chance of a majority in the electoral college.

On the other hand, to qualify for the debates a candidate must be generating "significant national enthusiasm or concern". Mr Perot is languishing at 5 per cent or so in the polls, and what "national enthusiasm" exists has not exactly been fired by his choice of running-mate, the little-known economist Pat Choate.

And, say Republicans, if Mr Perot, then why not Ralph Nader, the consumer activist and Green Party candidate who is also on the ballot in many states? More pertinently, Mr Nader would probably draw votes from Mr Clinton, especially in California. Mr Nader says he should be included because he is "well known". But if he is, other fringe candidates like John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party, are bound to demand they take part as well.

As matters stand, the first debate will be in St Louis on 26 September (put back from 25 September, because Mr Clinton addresses the United Nations the previous day). Thereafter, according to provisional dates, another will be held in St Petersburg, Florida on 9 October and a final one in San Diego on 16 October, sandwiched around a vice-presidential match-up on 12 October in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Dole camp would prefer four hour-long debates instead of three 90- minute ones. Anxious to cash in on the popularity and speaking skills of his running-mate, Jack Kemp, the Dole camp wants two vice-presidential debates. But that will probably be rejected by the Clinton campaign.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam