On Saturday representatives of President Bill Clinton and his Republican challenger, Bob Dole, agreed to two 90-minute confrontations sandwiched around a vice-presidential debate on 9 October between Al Gore and Mr Dole's running- mate, Jack Kemp.
After recommendations of the bipartisan Presidential Debates Commission last week, neither Mr Perot nor his running-mate, Pat Choate, will take part. The decision was a tactical victory for Mr Dole, based on the calculation that Mr Perot would have split the anti-Clinton vote and attracted support that would otherwise have gone to the Republicans.
For that same reason the White House pressed for Mr Perot's inclusion. None the less, the Republicans' success could backfire, as Mr Perot made clear he would do everything in his power to turn his followers against Mr Dole.