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French presidential candidates face off in debate
French presidential debate: Sarkozy's last chance to lure voters away from challenger Hollande
By The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) ' France's two presidential contenders are to face off in a nationally televised debate, preceded by the kind of dramatic build-up normally reserved for a heavyweight boxing championship.

The two-and-a-half-hour prime-time debate between rightwing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and his leftwing challenger Francois Hollande is billed in newspaper headlines Wednesday as "The Last Duel" and "The Final Confrontation," providing a sense of suspense in a campaign that, if polls are right, has lacked it from the beginning.

Surveys continue to predict that Hollande will defeat the divisive Sarkozy in Sunday's decisive presidential runoff. Experts say past debates have never swung a French election, regardless of who comes off better in the televised showdown.

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