Vice President Al Gore accepted an invitation yesterday to
participate in a presidential debate hosted by

Judicial Watch
— the legal watchdog organization suing Gore for his involvement in campaign-finance violations and national-security breaches of the Clinton administration.

The subject of the debate will center around restoring ethics to government and is scheduled to take place on Friday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. Eastern at the Ronald Reagan Building, just three blocks from the White House.

“Judicial Watch salutes Vice President Gore’s decision to appear at its debate. The vice president will be treated with respect and dignity,” stated Judicial Watch chairman and general counsel Larry Klayman.

In her

letter to Klayman
accepting the invitation, Scheduling and Advance Director Lisa Berg of the

Gore-Lieberman campaign
wrote: “We accept your invitation to debate Governor Bush at a mutually convenient time.”

However, a Gore campaign official told WorldNetDaily that “until Gov. Bush agrees to three prime-time, televised debates on the model of the presidential debate forum,” all other debates are “on hold,” including the one to be hosted by Judicial Watch. The vice president has accepted more than 40 such invitations, the campaign spokesman said.

Yet Berg’s letter indicates Gore may not wait for his condition to be met.

“The challenges America faces are complex: Waiting for just a few debates in the fall shortchanges the American people and denies them a chance to listen, learn, and make their own informed judgment,” she wrote. “Obviously, issues involving format will have to be mutually resolved, but we accept your debate invitation and offer our belief that a set of issue debates is an important part of the democratic process.”

Berg’s office referred inquiries about the debate to the campaign press office, which would not confirm or deny Gore’s attendance on Oct. 20.

Undaunted, Klayman said Gore had “agreed in principle,” and noted that Judicial Watch is prepared to change the date and time of the event if necessary in order to accommodate the candidates’ schedules.

Given the

pending legal action
taken against the vice president by Judicial Watch, Klayman praised Gore for his willingness to participate in the forum.

“It’s gutsy and courageous on Gore’s part,” he said, adding that his agreement is a “feather in Gore’s cap.”

“When the majority party candidate who has more reason not to appear says ‘yes,’ how can Bush say ‘no?'” Klayman mused.

According to Judicial Watch, Gov. George W. Bush has not yet responded to the invitation, which was delivered two weeks ago. The non-profit legal group also extended invitations to third party candidates, including

Pat Buchanan
of the Reform Party,

Ralph Nader
of the Green Party, Libertarian

Harry Browne

Howard Phillips
of the Constitution Party. Gore is the first officially to accept.

Regardless of the Republican and Democrat candidates’ participation, Klayman said he will hold the debate for the benefit of the third party candidates, as he did four years ago. Judicial Watch is currently making arrangements for a neutral moderator of the debate.

Following the Friday night debate, on Saturday, Oct. 21, Judicial Watch will continue its

“Ethics in Government 2000”
conference at the Hilton Washington with a number of featured speakers, including Editor and CEO Joseph Farah. The Washington, D.C., event is open to the public; the registration phone number is 1-800-790-9065.

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