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Press Release - Dole Campaign Accepts Forbes' Debate Challenge

February 05, 1996

Dole for President General Chairman Steve Merrill today accepted Steve Forbes' challenge to debate the Forbes tax plan and in turn challenged Forbes to debate his positions on a whole range of issues.

"I'd love to see Steve Forbes step out from behind his multi- million dollar negative attack ad campaign and debate real issues," Merrill said. "That debate will only confirm what we've said all along: the Forbes tax plan will raise taxes on middle class families, devastate home values, and tax our health care benefits. I'll debate him tomorrow before the people of New Hampshire.

"Steve Forbes has challenged my record and attacked me personally," Merrill continued. "I made that ad because I want to protect taxpayers in New Hampshire and across America. Higher taxes and declining home values are not what this country needs.

"Steve Forbes has run a one-dimensional, single-issue campaign," Merrill said. "A one-on-one debate would give people a chance to learn that on a wide range of social issues -- from welfare to immigration to abortion to gays in the military -- Steve Forbes' views are much closer to Bill Clinton's than to the average Republican voter."

Forbes issued his debate challenge during a campaign stop in Iowa today. Merrill is in Washington attending a National Governors' Association meeting. Forbes has been stung by numerous studies that reveal that his tax plan -- which eliminates the home mortgage interest deduction, as well as the deductions for property taxes and charitable contributions -- will actually increase taxes on middle class families.

"Obviously we've hit a nerve," said Dole Campaign Manager Scott Reed. "Steve Forbes has spent millions on his attack ads, but it only took one ad featuring Governor Merrill telling the truth about his tax plan before the air started rushing out of the Forbes balloon."

Robert Dole, Press Release - Dole Campaign Accepts Forbes' Debate Challenge Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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