Now Americans can judge 2 White House candidates

Lawyers for George W Bush and John Kerry have taken weeks to hammer out a 32-page document laying out the ground rules for the upcoming US presidential election debates.

Intense negotiations have been going on until the last moment. But the TV networks that will show the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>debates and the journalists who are set to moderate them are baulking at the rules.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has said that it cannot force the networks to abide by the agreement.

Two of the moderators, Charles Gibson of ABC and Bob Schieffer of CBS, have refused to sign the agreement, reports BBC News.

Kerry, who has been preparing for the debate at a rural Wisconsin resort, said "the truth" would catch up with Bush during the 90-minute face-to-face encounter at the University of Miami on Thursday night.

But &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman predicted Kerry would have a hard time explaining himself to Americans "given his continual vacillation on issue after issue."

The positioning by both campaigns underlined the high stakes in the nationally televised debate, which will give as many as 50 million Americans their first chance to judge the two &to=http:// ' target=_blank>White House candidates side-by-side on the same stage.

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