updated 9/7/2004 4:54:52 PM ET 2004-09-07T20:54:52

President Bush is relying on longtime family adviser and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III to use a bit of diplomacy in negotiating the candidates’ debates.

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The Bush-Cheney campaign on Tuesday announced its team to work with the Kerry campaign in finalizing the number and formats for the debates. The GOP team includes Baker, who served under the first President Bush and advised the Republicans during the disputed 2000 recount in Florida; Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee; and Karen Hughes, press secretary for Bush in the 2000 race.

Also on the team are Mary Matalin, former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.

The independent Commission on Presidential Debates has proposed three debates between Bush and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and one meeting between the vice presidential candidates.

Kerry’s team, led by Washington powerbroker Vernon Jordan, approved the schedule in July.

The first debate between Bush and Kerry is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 30 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

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