Associated Press
April 26, 2000

Mrs. Clinton Accepts Debate Offers

By Marc Humbert

SHELDON, N.Y. (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called for tax changes to help keep family farms in the family and accepted two offers to debate her Senate rival, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Clinton stopped at a more than 100-year-old dairy farm and called for increasing the estate tax exemption for family businesses to $1.75 million. It now is $600,000.

''You ought to be able to leave your land and the bulk of your fortunes to your children and not to the government,'' she told more than 100 people at the farm 35 miles east of Buffalo.

Also Wednesday, Clinton said she had accepted invitations for two televised debates with Giuliani in the fall.

But the first lady did not commit to a third proposed debate. Clinton and Giuliani have been invited by New York's Independence Party to a forum Saturday in Buffalo. Giuliani has accepted while Clinton said Wednesday she was still ''working it out.''

The Independence Party -- the New York wing of the Reform Party -- is in the midst of a court battle over its leadership. One faction supports conservative Pat Buchanan and the other adamantly opposes his presidential candidacy.

New York allows major party candidates to count votes received on other parties' ballot lines, which can make the difference in close races.

However, Clinton said Wednesday that she was concerned that pursuing the ballot line of the Independence Party could put her on a ticket led by Buchanan.

''I have a very big difference with him on nearly every issue you can imagine,'' Clinton told reporters after a speech to Democrats in Salamanca, where she stopped on her way to Buffalo for a televised town hall forum.

Juleanna Glover Weiss, a spokeswoman for Giuliani's campaign, said the mayor has made it clear he wants additional debates.

Giuliani was in Manhattan, where he called a reporter a ''jerk'' outside City Hall as a group of English schoolchildren looked on.

Giuliani had been chatting with the children about New York's tourist attractions when the reporter interrupted and asked whether new City Hall security measures were similar to any the children had seen in London.

''Just don't pay any attention to him,'' Giuliani told the children, who were about 11 years old. ''We have embarrassments in America. He's one of them.''

Some of the children seemed confused by the exchange; none of them said anything.

The object of Giuliani's ire, Rafael Martinez Alequin, publishes The Free Press, a tabloid that is highly critical of the Giuliani administration.

The city installed airport-style metal detectors at City Hall on Tuesday. The move was in response to a federal judge's order that the city provide greater public access to the area.

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