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Clinton-Dole Join Forces to Debate Major Issues on US Television - 2003-03-07

Former President Bill Clinton is joining forces with the man he defeated in the 1996 election, former Republican Senator Bob Dole, to debate the major issues of the day on U.S. television.

You have probably heard that old saying that 'politics makes strange bedfellows.' Well, so, apparently, does television.

The Clinton-Dole debates will be featured for the next ten weeks on the CBS network's weekly newsmagazine show 60 Minutes. Each man will be given about a minute to speak on a major news topic of the moment, followed by give and take rebuttals.

60 Minutes began airing in 1968 and remains a highly rated news program. Former President Clinton told CBS television Thursday that the new point-counterpoint debate segment provides an opportunity to provoke public discussion of some of the major issues of the day: "And I think that Bob and I are both doing this for the same reason. We hope that by having a civilized discussion that will often be, but not always, a disagreement, we will help people understand," he said. "There is a lot of stuff going on here."

Mr. Clinton defeated Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential election. Former Senator Dole says the two men get along well and says while there will be disagreements, he predicts the debates will be conducted in a civil manner: "You know, I know President Clinton well. Despite all of the adversarial things we did, we did a lot of things together," he said. "And it ought to be a pretty good fit. I mean, we can be on the program, we can be firm and provocative without being nasty and maybe get people to think, you know, 'Well, I hadn't thought about that, maybe I ought to think about what the President [Clinton] said or maybe even what Bob Dole may have said."

The first debate segment will be carried on 60 Minutes this Sunday, but neither man would reveal the topic.