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Published Oct. 12, 2005

Will he? Won't he? And finally, now that he's back in the presidential race, was he ever really out? After being courted Monday by emissaries of President Bush and Bill Clinton, the billionaire Texan got back in the running Thursday, saying he was answering the call of his volunteers. He immediately began to spend more of his fortune, buying half-hour blocks of network TV time to present his message. Some observers, noting that Perot spent millions of dollars to keep his campaign alive in July and August after he had dropped out of the race, wondered if the last minute re-entry hadn't been planned all along. Orson Swindle, Perot's media spokesman, said that was "absolutely incorrect."

DEBATES: After weeks of squabbling and exchanges of insults between the candidates, debates are now scheduled. Bush, who had previously declined to participate in debates scheduled by a bipartisan panel, put forth his own plan: four debates, with the last one two days before the election. Clinton declined Bush's plan, but negotiations began late in the week. On Saturday, the two camps agreed to presidential debates: Oct. 11, featuring a panel of questioners, in St. Louis; Oct. 15, with a single moderator who will solicit questions from an audience, in Richmond, Va.; and Oct. 19, with a single moderator for the first half and a panel for the second half, in East Lansing, Mich. A vice presidential debate was set for Oct. 13 in Atlanta. Both camps agreed to invite Perot and his running mate, James Stockdale.

TAXES: Early last week, Bush told an interviewer on ABC-TV's Good Morning America that there would be no new taxes in his second term. "I'm going to hold the line on taxes," he said. "I'm going to get them down." And then on Thursday, the Bush campaign released a campaign ad charging that Clinton would raise taxes on middle-class workers. Clinton, who has proposed raising taxes only on the wealthiest Americans making more than $200,000 a year, called the ad "blatantly false" and "outrageous." Bush aides said that the ad was based on assumptions about Clinton's economic plan. Charles Black, senior Bush campaign adviser, said that the ad only said Clinton's plan "could" mean higher taxes for the middle class. On Friday, Clinton countered the ad with one of his own, charging that the Bush ad was misleading and blasting the president's economic record.