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Presidential Candidates To Air Their Differences

It may seem like the television remote control is broken this evening at 6. Despite repeated clicking, the picture will stay the same.

Don’t check the batteries. The presidential debate will be on most network channels.

The first of two debates between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole will feature 90 minutes of questions, answers and rebuttals. It’s not a debate in the classic sense, but after two decades of such performances, more Americans associate the term debate with these joint news conferences than with the forensic exercises practiced by college students.

Dole and Clinton will be queried by Jim Lehrer of public television’s “NewsHour.”

Presidential debates have taken on such importance that candidates spend days preparing for them. Dole spent much of the weekend in Florida, Clinton in New York.

For Dole, the advice reportedly has been don’t be too gruff or negative. Clinton, meanwhile, has been practicing ways to talk about how things are better than four years ago.

After the debate, ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS will offer a half-hour of commentary, during which supposed experts will tell viewers what they’ve just seen.

CNN will switch to a special edition of “Larry King Live” featuring five would-be presidents who didn’t get an invitation to the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, Conn. Ross Perot will share the venue with Libertarian Harry Browne, Natural Law candidate John Hagelin, Green candidate Ralph Nader and Taxpayers candidate Howard Phillips.

C-Span will include interviews with members of the audience in its wrap-up, and rebroadcast the entire debate at 9 p.m.

Want to watch in a group? Democrats are gathering at the Carpenters Hall, 120 W. Mission. Republicans will be at Dole-Kemp Headquarters, 524 W. First.

Can’t watch? The debate’s on radio - KPBX and KXLY-AM in the Spokane area.

Don’t want to watch? TNT will have a pro football game.

Among the movie options, for people with cable, is “Executive Decision” on Viewers Choice.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos

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