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Seven-year-old Landel Shakespeare was already asleep. His father, Delyoland, was not even watching yesterday's presidential debate. Then a relative called from California.

"My brother called. He told me [Republican nominee Robert J. Dole] had mentioned my son on television. That really surprised me," Delvoland Shakespeare, whose family lives in a predominantly black section of southeast Cleveland, said in a telephone interview early this morning.

Landel Shakespeare is one of about 40 students who receives taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend Our Lady of Peace Catholic School rather than the decaying Cleveland public schools.

Dole criticized President Clinton and the American Federation of Teachers yesterday for opposing the program, which he said gives Shakespeare and other inner-city youth "an opportunity to go to a better school."

Dole met Delvoland and Landel Shakespeare briefly after a campaign rally in July, when the former Kansas senator "promised he'd help my son," Delvoland Shakespeare said.

Mentioning Landel Shakespeare yesterday "really gave me a boost of confidence that he's serious. He's met many people and still remembers my child," said Delvoland Shakespeare, 29, who is training for the Christian ministry and also works as a janitor.

He said he is "very impressed" by Dole but added "Clinton's doing some great things too." He would not say who he plans to vote for Nov. 5.

As a result of Dole's mentioning his son at two different times, Delvoland Shakespeare will appear today on both ABC's "Good Morning America" and C-SPAN.

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