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<i> Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press</i>

Republican presidential candidate George Bush on Wednesday declined an invitation to appear with Democratic counterpart Michael Dukakis on the ABC program “Nightline” after Dukakis had accepted the offer. The network invited both candidates to “engage in an open-ended discussion concerning the issues being raised in the 1988 presidential campaign,” said Roone Arledge, ABC News president. Dukakis spokesman Dayton Duncan said Wednesday: “We thought it was a great opportunity for the American people to get beyond the slogans and balloons and . . . get (Bush) to talk about the issues.” Bush spokesman Mark Goodin said Bush campaign chairman James A. Baker III decided to reject the invitation. “We committed the campaign to two debates,” Goodin said. “Frankly, our campaign schedule requires the candidate to be on the road after the second debate, taking his message to the voters directly,” he said. Duncan said ABC left open the possibility of Dukakis going on alone with program host Ted Koppel, but that nothing was definite.


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