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Bush, Kerry Take Debate 101

With their first debate just days away, President Bush and Democrat John Kerry are both busy getting ready for prime time.

Kerry is spending the next few days at a Wisconsin golf resort, preparing for Thursday night's nationally televised debate with President Bush.

The Massachusetts senator is also getting in some campaigning in a key swing state. The Democrat has a town meeting at Spring Green's junior high school — after stopping by a local pub Sunday to watch part of a Green Bay Packers football game.

Kerry told an airport welcoming crowd in Madison that Wisconsin — with its "tradition of open debate" — is an ideal place to prepare for Thursday's face-off.

He also took a swipe at the president on Iraq — saying it's "unbelievable" that Mr. Bush has told a TV interviewer he'd give his aircraft carrier "Mission Accomplished" speech again, despite all that's happened since in Iraq.

Kerry says it's more evidence Mr. Bush is living in a "fantasy land of spin."

The president, meanwhile, spent the weekend at his Texas ranch preparing for his nationally televised encounter with Kerry on Thursday night in Coral Gables, Fla.

The high-stakes character of the encounter was reflected in a poll that found one in four voters say their decision could hinge on what they see Thursday. The survey, taken last week, also showed Mr. Bush with a 49-41 percent lead over Kerry.

On Monday, the president is in the crucial swing state of Ohio for the 26th visit of his presidency after an absence of little less than two weeks. He's due back again Saturday.

Later Monday, his campaign bus was taking him to a rally in West Chester, near Cincinnati, at a park featuring a World War II-era Voice of America station that transmitted pro-democracy broadcasts from 1944 to 1994.

The president is back at the ranch Monday night. He has a clear schedule Tuesday for more last-minute practice sessions for the debate.

The Bush-Kerry clash on Thursday is one of four debates, including one between Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic opponent John Edwards.

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