It's Clinton vs. Dole on `60 Minutes'

They will revive CBS' debate format `Point/Counterpoint'

March 07, 2003|By Hal Boedeker | Hal Boedeker,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

They say it will be civil, but it's likely to produce comedy skits and lots of water-cooler conversation.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole will resurrect the "Point/Counterpoint" segment for 60 Minutes, starting this Sunday.

They taped their first face-off yesterday morning.

The opponents from the 1996 presidential race will appear 10 times this season and into next season if the sequence clicks with the public. CBS News would not say what they will be paid.

"The country needs a debate that's not a screaming match," Clinton said yesterday on CBS' Early Show. "I think too many times we have these arguments on these talk shows where they're trying to get ratings by generating heat when we ought to be trying to generate more light."

Democrat Clinton and Republican Dole should help 60 Minutes in the ratings, where it has fallen steadily the past several years.

"We can be firm and provocative without being nasty," Dole said.

Asked who won after taping their first segment yesterday, Clinton replied, "He did."

"I got a `B,'" said Dole. "He got a `B-minus.'"

60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt said the two will take turns picking a topic and writing a 45-second script, which will be e-mailed to the other. The response would also be 45 seconds. The first debater would then get 15 seconds to rebut, and his opponent would get 15 seconds for the last word. Each will write his own script.

Hal Boedeker writes for the Orlando Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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