The final presidential debates before the first voting starts are scheduled for this afternoon and tomorrow in Iowa. Both will be televised nationally.

Today, it's the Republicans. Tomorrow, the Democrats.

Each of the debates, which are sponsored by the Des Moines Register, is to begin at 2 p.m. in Philadelphia and will be broadcast by CNN, the Fox News Channel, C-Span3, and some local PBS stations, including WHYY/TV12.

The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses take place Jan. 3.

The next debates for both parties are slated for the evening of Jan. 5 in New Hampshire, three days before that state holds the nation's first primary.

- Larry Eichel

Huckabee remark rankles years later

DES MOINES, Iowa - The 15-year-old comment of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee that AIDS patients should be isolated has so alarmed the mother of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager whose life-ending battle with AIDS in the 1980s engrossed the nation, that she has asked for a meeting.

"I would be very willing to meet with them," the former Arkansas governor responded yesterday while campaigning in western Iowa. "I would tell them we've come a long way in research, in treatment."

The GOP front-runner in Iowa's caucuses stood by his 1992 comment in a broadcast interview Sunday, infuriating Jeanne White-Ginder, the late teen's mother and a board member of the AIDS Institute.

"It's so alarming to me," she said.

"It's very important to me that we don't live in the darkness" when people thought AIDS was transmitted through casual contact, such as by "kissing, tears, sweat and saliva," White-Ginder said in a telephone interview Monday from her home in Leesburg, Fla.

White was 13 when he was diagnosed with AIDS in December 1984, having contracted the disease from the blood-clotting agent used to treat his hemophilia. He died in 1990 at 18.

- AP