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ND US House candidates schedule 6 debates

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FARGO (AP) -- North Dakota's Democratic and GOP candidates for the U.S. House have agreed to six debates this fall, and Republican Kevin Cramer said Friday he wouldn't mind having more.

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Cramer and Democratic rival Pam Gulleson have agreed to debate on Prairie Public Television and Fargo's KFGO Radio, as well as during meetings of the North Dakota Medical Association, the Hospital Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Petroleum Council, representatives of the campaigns said.

None of the debates have definite times scheduled yet. The Petroleum Council event will be in September, while the ones in front of the hospital, doctor and business groups are planned for October.

Cramer, who is a state public service commissioner, said he had suggested 10 or 12 debates with Gulleson, who is a former North Dakota House member and aide to former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

"I've always been of the philosophy that democracy is best served when the people that are applying for the positions are interviewed thoroughly by the employer," Cramer told The Associated Press. "If you're confident of your positions on the issues, you ought to be willing to stand up and talk about them and debate them."

Gulleson said she had not rejected any debate request so far, and she said subsequent ones will be evaluated to see if they fit into her campaign's schedule.

"I think a good, spirited debate about the issues is healthy, and I think the public deserves that," Gulleson said.

Gulleson and Cramer are competing to succeed U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., who is leaving after his first term to run for the U.S. Senate. Berg is running against Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, a former North Dakota attorney general and tax commissioner, for a seat being left by Democratic incumbent Kent Conrad.

The Forum newspaper reported that Heitkamp would like seven debates, while Berg has agreed to two, a circumstance that Heitkamp has attempted to make into a campaign issue.

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