AN EVENING OF MODERATELY CIVIL DISCOURSE
the second Presidential Debate of Election 2000
Saturday, October 14, 2000
by RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON
The second of three Presidential Debates got underway shortly after 9 o'clock P.M. EDT on Wednesday 11 October 2000 (0100 UTC, 12 October) inside Wake Chapel at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Governor George W. Bush, the Republican nominee for President, sat to the left and Vice President Al Gore sat to the right of a horseshoe-shaped table very like the one which had been used in the Vice Presidential Debate less than a week before. The moderator of the first debate, the Public Broadcasting System's Jim Lehrer, was also the moderator of this one.
[As in my scoring of the first Presidential Debate and the Vice Presidential Debate, I am scoring each "Round" on boxing's "Ten Point Must" system, in which the winner of a "Round" is given a 10 and the loser of that "Round" is given a number of points proportionally less, reflecting how badly the loser- in fact- lost that "Round". Just a reminder: I am NOT scoring the veracity of the statements of either candidate, merely- to the best of my ability- how each candidate presented himself in each "Round" in relation to the question. I will, however, take a point (or more, if I feel it is egregious) off for blatant rules violations and I will also take points off if a candidate makes a statement or presents his position- true or not- in a manner I feel is disingenuous or underhanded: my doing so, however, should not be mistakenly construed as my- in any way- having taken a position on the truthfulness- or lack of same- of that particular candidate's statement, as has been suggested in some e-mailed responses to my Commentaries on the Debates held so far.]
After outlining the rules of what was to be a "conversational" debate (the only real rule being that no response to a question or comment on the other candidate's response could be more than 2 minutes in length), Mr. Lehrer put the first question to Governor Bush: One of you is about to be elected the leader of the single most powerful nation in the world economically, financially, militarily, diplomatically- you name it. Have you formed any guiding principles for exercising this enormous power?
The Texas Governor answered: I have. I have. The first question is: what is in the best interest of the United States?- what's in the best interests of our People? When it comes to foreign policy, that will be my guiding question: is it in our Nation's interests? Peace in the Middle East is in our Nation's interests; having a hemisphere that is free for trade and peaceful is in our Nation's interest; strong relations in Europe in is our Nation's interest. I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be the President.; I also understand an Administration is not one person but an Administration is dedicated citizens who are called by the President to serve the country- to serve a cause greater than self- and so I've thought about an Administration of people who represent all America, but people who understand my compassionate and conservative philosophy. I haven't started naming names except for one person and that's Mr. Richard Cheney who I thought did a great job the other night: he’s a vice presidential nominee... I think people got to see why I picked him: he's a man of solid judgment and he going to be a person that stands by my side. One of the things I've done in Texas is I've been able to put together a good team of people; I've been able to set clear goals. The goals here ought to be an educational system that leaves no child behind, Medicare for our seniors, a Social Security system that's safe and secure, a Foreign Policy that’s in our nation’s interests and a strong military- and then bring people together to achieve those goals: that's what our Chief Executive Officer does. So, I've thought long and hard about the honor of being the President of the United States.
Vice President Gore responded: I've thought a lot about that particular question and I see our greatest… national strength coming from what we stand for in the world; I see it as a question of values. It is a great tribute to our Founders that- 224 years later- this Nation is now looked to by the peoples on every other continent and the peoples from every part of this Earth as a kind of model for what their future could be- and I don't think that's just the kind of exaggeration that we take pride in as Americans: it's really true. Even the ones that sometimes shake their fists at us: as soon as they have a change that allows the people to speak freely they're wanting to develop some kind of blueprint that will help them be like us more: freedom, free markets, political freedom. So I think, first and foremost, our power ought to be wielded in ways that form a more perfect union: the power of example is America's greatest power in the world and that means, for example, standing up for human rights; it means addressing the problems of injustice and inequity along the lines of race and ethnicity here at home because- in all these other places around the world where they’re having these terrible problems- when they feel hope, it is often because they see in us a reflection of their potential.So we've got to enforce our civil rights laws, we've got to deal with things like Racial Profiling and we have to keep our military strong. We have the strongest military and I'll do whatever is necessary, if I'm President, to make sure that it stays that way- but our real power comes, I think, from our values.
Lehrer followed up with another question to Governor Bush: Should the people of the world look at the United States… should they fear us, should they welcome our involvement, should they see us as a friend, everybody in the world?… How would you project us around the world as President?
Bush replied: Well, I think they ought to look at us as a country that understands Freedom- where it doesn't matter who you are or how you're raised or where you're from, that you can succeed. I don't think they ought to look at us with envy: it really depends upon how our Nation conducts ourselves in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation. they'll resent us; if we're a humble nation but strong. they'll welcome us. Our Nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power and that's why we've got to be humble and yet project strength in a way that promotes Freedom. So, I don't think they ought to look at us in any way other than what we are: we're a freedom loving nation and, if we're an arrogant nation, they'll view us that way- but, if we're a humble nation, they'll respect us.
Gore responded: I agree with that. I agree with that. I think that one of the problems that we have faced in the world is that we are so much more powerful than any single nation has been in relationship to the rest of the world than at any time in history- that I know about, anyway- that there is some resentment of U.S. power. So I think that the idea of humility is an important one, but I think that we also have to have a sense of mission in the world. We have to protect our capacity to push forward what America is all about: that means not only military strength and our values, it also means keeping our economy strong. You know… two decades ago, it was routine for leaders of foreign countries to come over here and say ‘you guys have got to do something about these horrendous deficits, it's causing tremendous problems for the rest of the world’ and we were lectured to all the time. The fact that we have the strongest economy in history today- it’s not good enough, we need to do more- but the fact that it is so strong enables us to project the power for good that America can represent.
Lehrer asked yet one more question of the Texas Governor: Does our wealth, our good economy, our power, bring with it special obligations to the rest of the world?
Bush answered: Yes, it does. Take, for example, Third World debt; I think we ought to be forgiving Third World debt under certain conditions. I think, for example, if we're convinced that a Third World country that’s got a lot of debt would reform itself, that the money wouldn't go into the hands of a few but would go to help people, then I think it makes sense for us to use our wealth in that way- or to trade debt for valuable rain forest lands: makes that much sense. Yes, we do have an obligation in the world but we can't be all things to all people. We can help build coalitions but we can't put our troops all around the world; we can lend money but we’ve got to do it wisely. We shouldn't be lending money to corrupt officials: so we’ve got to be guarded in our generosity.
Round One: This one goes to Governor Bush. Vice President Gore began- more or less- merely following the Texan's lead in the middle of this "Round" after the Republican talked about the necessity for humility in the exercise and projection of American power in the outside world; in addition, Gore tried to tie this issue to his core domestic agenda: however, I myself find it hard to believe that, when other Peoples are groping toward Democracy, they care the least about whether WE are struggling with things like Racial Profiling or paying down OUR National Debt. At the end, Bush neatly kept Gore's application of economic motivations for the projection of American power on the "foreign soil" the question was intended to explore and thereby sealed his victory in this first "Round". Scoring: Bush 10, Gore 8
Lehrer continued with a question of the Vice President: Let’s go through some of the specifics now… the governor mentioned the Middle East. Here we're talking, at this stage of the game, about diplomatic power that we have. What do you think the United States should do right now to resolve that conflict over there?
Gore answered: The first priority has to be on ending the violence, dampening down the tensions that have risen there. We need to call upon Syria to release the three Israeli soldiers who have been captured; we need to insist that Arafat send out instructions to halt some of the provocative acts of violence that have been going on. I think that we also have to keep a weather eye toward Saddam Hussein because he’s taking advantage of the situation to again make threats and he needs to understand that he's not only dealing with Israel… he's dealing with us if he is making the kind of threats that he's talking about there. The use of diplomacy in this situation… well. it goes hour by hour and day by day now; it's a very tense situation there- but in the last 24 hours there has been some subsiding of the violence there. It's too much to hope that this is going to continue but I do hope that it will continue. Our country has been very active with regular conversations with the leaders there, and we just have to take it day-to-day right now- but one thing I would say where diplomacy is concerned: Israel… should feel absolutely secure about one thing; our bonds with Israel are larger than agreements or disagreements on some details of diplomatic initiatives- they are historic, they are strong and they are enduring and our ability to serve as an honest broker is something that we need to shepherd.
Governor Bush responded: Well, I think during the campaign, particularly now during this difficult period we ought to be speaking with one voice and I appreciate the way the Administration has worked hard to calm the tensions; like the Vice President, I call on chairman Arafat to have his people pull back- to make the peace. I think credibility’s going to be very important in the future in the Middle East: I want everybody to know, should I be the President, Israel is going to be our friend. I'm going to stand by Israel. Secondly, that I think it's important to reach out to moderate Arab nations- like Jordan and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It’s important to be friends with people when you don’t need each other so that, when you do, there’s a strong bond of friendship and that’s going to be particular important in dealing not only with situations such as now occurring in Israel but with Saddam Hussein. The coalition against Saddam has fallen apart- or it’s unraveling, let’s put it that way, the sanctions are… being violated, we don't know whether he's developing weapons of mass destruction: he better not be or there’s going to be a consequence should I be the President. But it's important to have credibility and credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resolute in your determination: it’s one of the reasons why I think it's important for this Nation to develop an Anti-Ballistic Missile system that we can share with our allies in the Middle East if need be to keep the peace- to be able to say to the Saddam Husseins of the world or the Iranians, don't dare threaten our friends! It’s also important to keep… strong ties in the Middle East with credible ties because of the energy crisis we're now in: after all, a lot of the energy is produced from the Middle East- and so I appreciate what the Administration is doing. I hope to get a sense of- should I be fortunate enough to be the President- how my Administration will react to the Middle East.
Moderator Lehrer followed up: So, you don’t believe… that we should take sides… and resolve this right now? A lot of people are pushing: ‘hey!- the United States should declare itself and not be so neutral in this particular situation’.
Gore replied: Well… we stand with Israel but we have maintained the ability to serve as an honest broker and one of the reasons that's important is that Israel cannot have direct dialogue with some of the people on the other side of conflicts- especially during times of tension- unless that dialogue comes through us. And, if we throw away that ability to serve as an honest broker, then… we will have thrown away a strategic asset that's important not only to us but also to Israel.
Lehrer turned to the Texas Governor: Do you agree with that?
Bush answered: I do. I do think this, though: I think that, when it comes to timetables, it can't be the United States’ timetable… as to how discussions take place, it’s got to be a timetable that all parties can agree to… like the Palestinians and the Israelis. Secondly, any lasting peace is going to have to be a peace that's good for both sides and, therefore, the term honest broker makes sense… this current Administration’s worked hard to keep the parties at the table: I will try to do the same thing- but it won't be on my timetable, it will be on the timetable that people are comfortable with in the Middle East
Lehrer then asked, of the Vice President: People watching here tonight, very interested in Middle East policy: they’re so interested that they want to… base their vote on differences between the two of you as President: how you would handle Middle East policy. Is there any difference?
Gore replied: I haven't heard a big difference right in the last few exchanges- to which Bush responded: I know it's hard to tell… I would hope to be able to convince people I could handle the Iraqi situation better.
Lehrer picked up on this, asking of the Texas Republican: Saddam Hussein you mean… You can get him out of there?
Bush answered: I’d like to, of course, and, I presume, this Administration would as well but we don't know- there's no inspectors now in Iraq; the coalition that was in place isn't as strong as it used to be. He is a danger: we don't want him fishing in troubled waters in the Middle East… it’s going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him.
Lehrer pressed the Governor: Do you feel that as a failure of the Clinton Administration?- to which Bush responded: I do.
Gore retorted: Well, when I got to be a part of the current Administration, it was right after I was one of the few members of my political party to support former President Bush in the Persian Gulf War Resolution and, at the end of that war- for whatever reasons, it was not finished in a way that removed Saddam Hussein from power. I know there are all kinds of circumstances and explanations- but the fact is that that's the situation that was left when I got there And we have maintained the sanctions: now, I want to go further. I want to give robust support to the groups that are trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein and I know there are allegations that they're too weak to do it- but that's what they said about the forces that were opposing Milosevic in Serbia and, you know, the policy of enforcing sanctions against Serbia has just resulted in a spectacular victory for Democracy just in the past week. And it seems to me that- having taken so long to see the sanctions work there, building upon the policy of containment that was successful, over a much longer period of time, against the former Soviet Union and the Communist bloc- seems a little early to declare that we should give up on the sanctions: I know the governor is not necessarily saying that but, you know, all of these flights that have come in, all of them have been in accordance with the sanctions regime- I'm told- except for three where they notified and they're trying to break out of the box, there's no question about it. I don't think they should be allowed to.
Lehrer turned to Governor Bush: Did he state your position correctly? You're not calling for eliminating the sanctions, are you?
Bush replied: No, of course not. Absolutely not- I want them to be tougher.
Round Two: Vice President Gore won this "Round" but not by much. Governor Bush was, perhaps, put in an unfair position with his having to join Gore in order to "speak with one voice" and praise the Clinton Administration where Bush believed praise was due- he did come back some with his expressing his differences over how the Administration was handling the apparent unraveling of the sanctions regime against Iraq, but Gore held his ground- including pointing out that it was the Texan's father's Administration that did not "get [Saddam Hussein] out of there"- while defending his somewhat different position as regards Iraq. Scoring: Gore 10, Bush 9 [cumulative: Bush 19, Gore 18 ]
Moderator Lehrer now asked the next question of Governor Bush: Let's go on to Milosevic and Yugoslavia and it falls under the area of our military power… Should the fall of Milosevic be seen as a triumph for U.S. military intervention?
Bush answered: I think it's a triumph: I thought the President made the right decision in joining NATO in bombing Serbia. I supported him when they did so- I called upon the Congress not to hamstring the Administration… in terms of forcing troop withdrawals on a timetable that wasn't in necessarily our best interest or fit our Nation's strategy and so I think it's good public policy- I think it worked- and I'm pleased I… made the decision I made; I'm pleased the President made the decision he made, because Freedom took hold in that part of the world… there is a lot of work left to be done, however.
Lehrer followed up: Do you think that Milosevic would not have fallen if the United States and NATO had not intervened militarily? Is this a legitimate use of our military power?
The Texan responded: Yes, I think it is. Absolutely. I don't think he would have fallen had we not used force. I know there's some in my party that disagreed with that sentiment but I supported the President- I thought he made the right decision to do so; I didn't think he necessarily made the right decision to take land troops off the table right before we committed ourselves offensively but, nevertheless, it worked: the Administration deserves credit for having made it work. It’s important for NATO to have it work, it’s important for NATO to be strong and confident to help keep the peace in Europe and one of the reasons I felt so strongly that the United States needed to participate was because of our relations with NATO- and NATO is going to be an important part of keeping the peace in the future. Now, there's more work to do: it remains to be seen… whether or not there’s going to be a political settlement to Kosovo and certainly I hope there is one. I'm also on record as saying at some point in time I hope our European friends become the peacekeepers in Bosnia and in the Balkans: I hope that they put the troops on the ground so that we can withdraw our troops and focus our military on fighting and winning war.
The Vice President rebutted: Well, I've been kind of a hard-liner on this issue for more than eight years: when I was in the Senate before I became Vice President I was pushing for stronger action against Milosevic. He caused the deaths of so many people, he was the last Communist party boss there and became a dictator that by some other label he was still essentially a Communist dictator and unfortunately now he is trying to reassert himself in Serbian politics already. Just today the members of his political party said that they were going to ignore the orders of the new president of Serbia, and that they questioned his legitimacy and he’s still going to try to be actively involved. He is an indicted war criminal: he should be held accountable. Now I did want to pick up on one of the statements earlier and… maybe I've heard the previous statements wrong, Governor. In some of the discussions we've had about when it's appropriate for the U.S. to use force around the world, at times the standards that you've laid down have given me the impression that if it's something like a genocide taking place- or what they called ethnic cleansing in Bosnia… that that wouldn't be the kind of situation that would cause you to think that the U.S. ought to get involved with troops. Now, there have to be other factors involved for me to want to be involved but by itself that to me can bring into play a fundamental American strategic interest because I think it's based on our values: now, have I got that wrong?
Governor Bush rather reluctantly answered the question put to him by Al Gore (in violation of the rules, I might add!): I’m trying to figure out who the questioner was. If I think it's in our nation's strategic interest I'll commit troops. I thought it was in our strategic interests to keep Milosevic in check because of our relations in NATO and that’s why I took the position I took: I think it's important for NATO to be strong and confident. I felt like an unchecked Milosevic would harm NATO and so it depends on the situation, Mr. Vice President.
Round Three: Governor Bush might not have won this one: he was put in the position of having supported the NATO action regarding Kosovo in early 1999; awkwardly, he tried to split hairs by pointing out that he wouldn't have taken "land troops off the table" but he had to admit that the NATO action had worked, implying that land troops- in the end- made no real difference. However, Vice President Gore did, in fact, violate the rules by questioning the Governor directly and- under "Ten Point Must" must be penalized: Gore's having done so might have been Good Politics, but it was Bad Debating; combined with Bush ably pushing his position that the European members of NATO should have more troops on the ground in lieu of American forces, this was enough to give the Texan this "Round". Scoring: Bush 10, Gore 9 [cumulative: Bush 29, Gore 27]
Lehrer asked the next question of Vice President Gore: I figured this out: in the last 20 years, there have been eight major actions involving the introduction of U.S. ground, air or naval forces- let me name them: Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo. If you had been President… would any of those interventions not have happened?
Gore asked of the moderator: Can you run through the list again?
This left Lehrer in the position of asking the Democrat's opinion about each of these military actions: Q. Lebanon? A. I thought that was a mistake. Q. Grenada? A. I supported that. Q. Panama? A. I supported that one. Q. Persian Gulf? A. Yes. I voted for it- supported it. Q. Somalia? A. No, I think that was ill-considered. I did support it at the time. It was in the previous Administration, in the Bush-Quayle Administration, and I think- in retrospect- the lessons there are ones that we should take very, very seriously.Q. Bosnia? A. Oh, yes. Q. Haiti? A.Yes. Q. And then Kosovo?- we talked about that. A.Yes.
Lehrer now turned to the Texas Republican: Want me to do it with you?
Governor Bush responded: I'll make a couple of comments… Somalia started off as a humanitarian mission and changed into a nation building mission and that’s where the mission went wrong- the mission was changed and, as a result, our Nation paid a price and so I don't think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win war, I think our troops ought to be used to help overthrow a dictator… when it's in our best interests. But in this case it was a nation-building exercise: same with Haiti. I wouldn't have supported either.
Lehrer then asked the Governor: What about Lebanon?- to which the Texan replied: Yes.
This led to Lehrer asking- of each action not yet addressed by Bush- whether or not the Republican supported it. Q. Grenada? A. Yes. Q. Panama? A.Yes. Some of them I got a conflict of interest on, if you know what I mean, the Texas Governor added jocularly (an obvious reference to the fact that Panama was one of the actions taken while his father was President).
Lehrer then finished up the litany for Bush before asking his next question:The Persian Gulf obviously and Bosnia and you've already talked about Kosovo. But the reverse side of the question… 600,000 people died in Rwanda in 1994: there was no U.S. intervention or no intervention from the outside world. Was that a mistake not to intervene?
Bush answered: I think the Administration did the right thing in that case- I do. It was a horrible situation: no one liked to see it… on our TV screens but it's a case that we need to make sure we have… kind of an early warning system in place in places where there could be ethnic cleansing and genocide the way we saw it there in Rwanda. And that’s a case where we need to use our influence to have countries in Africa come together and help deal with the situation… It seems like we‘re having a great love-fest tonight but the Administration made the right decision on training Nigerian troops for situations just such as this in Rwanda and so I thought they made the right decision not to send U.S. troops into Rwanda.
Gore responded: I’d like to come back to the question of nation building but let me address this question directly first. We did actually send troops into Rwanda to help with the humanitarian relief measures- my wife, Tipper… actually went on a military plane with General Shalikashvilii on one of those flights- but I think, in retrospect, we were too late getting in there. We could have saved more lives if we had acted earlier but I do not think that it was an example of a conflict where we should have put our troops in to try to separate the parties for this reason… One of the criteria that I think is important in deciding when and if we should ever get involved around the world is whether or not… our national security interest is involved, if we can really make the difference with military force, if we've tried everything else, if we have allies. In the Balkans we had allies, NATO: ready, willing and able to go and carry a big part of the burden. In Africa we did not. Now… our country has tried to create an Africa crisis response team there and we've met some resistance. We have had some luck with Nigeria… and Sierra Leone. But… now that Nigeria has become a democracy- and we hope it stays that way- maybe we can build on that. But because we had no allies and because it was very unclear that we could actually accomplish what we would want to accomplish by putting military forces there I think it was the right thing not to jump in- as heartbreaking as it was- but I think we should have come in much quicker with the humanitarian mission.
Lehrer followed up with Governor Bush What would you say… to somebody would say ‘hey, wait a minute- why not Africa?… why the Middle East? why the Balkans, but not Africa- when 600,000 people's lives are at risk?
Bush replied: I understand and Africa’s important and we have to do a lot of work in Africa to promote democracy and trade and… the Vice President mentioned Nigeria: it’s a fledgling democracy; we got to work with Nigeria. It's an important continent but there’s got to be priorities and the Middle East is a priority for a lot of reasons- as is Europe and the Far East and our own hemisphere- and those are my four top priorities should I be the President. Not to say that we won’t be engaged nor… work hard to get other nations to come together to prevent atrocity. I thought the best example of a way to handle a situation is East Timor when we provided logistical support to the Australians, support that only we can provide: I thought that was a good model. But we can't be all things to all people in the world… and I think that's where maybe the Vice President and I begin to have some differences: I'm worried about overcommitting our military around the world; I want to be judicious in its use… I wouldn't have sent troops to Haiti: I didn't think it was a mission worthwhile. It was a nation-building mission and it was not very successful- it cost us… a couple billions of dollars and I'm not so sure Democracy’s any better off in Haiti than it was before.
Lehrer turned to Vice President Gore: Do you agree with the Governor's views on … the use of our military for nation-building as he described it and defined it?
Gore answered: I don't think we agree on that. I would certainly also be judicious in evaluating any potential use of American troops overseas: I think we have to be very reticent about that… The world is changing so rapidly: the way I see it- the world is getting much closer together- like it or not… the United States is now the natural leader of the world; all these other countries are looking to us. Now, just because we cannot be involved everywhere- and shouldn't be- doesn't mean that we should shy away from going in anywhere… both of us are kind of, I guess, stating the other's position in a maximalist extreme way but I think there is a difference here. This idea of nation building- it’s a kind of a pejorative phrase- but think about the great conflict of the past century, World War II. During the years between World War I and World War II a great lesson was learned by our military leaders and the people of the United States: the lesson was that in the aftermath of World War I we kind of turned our backs and left them to their own devices and they brewed up a lot of trouble that quickly became World War II. And acting upon that lesson in the aftermath of our great victory in World War II, we laid down the Marshall Plan- President Truman did, we got intimately involved in building NATO and other structures there- we still have lots of troops in Europe. And what did we do in the late 40's and 50's and 60's, we were nation building- and it was economic, but it was also military. And the confidence that those countries recovering from the wounds of war had by having troops there: we had civil administrators come in to set up their ways of building their towns back.
Round Four: Vice President Gore won this "Round", primarily because of his defense of using American troops in so-called "nation building" by deftly linking this concept to U.S. actions in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Up until this last, this "Round" could have gone either way- without many significant differences between the positions of the two men and, where there were differences (Bush's compliant about the Clinton/Gore Administration "overcommitting" the military, for example), each man adequately defending their positions (while stating the other's in that "maximalist, extreme way" to which Gore referred). Scoring: Gore 10, Bush 9 [cumulative: Bush 38, Gore 37 ]
Moderator Lehrer picked up on Bush's complaint about "overcommitting" in his next question of Governor Bush: You said in the Boston debate… on this issue of nation building that the United States military is overextended now. Where is it overextended? Where are there U.S. military that you would bring home if you become President.
Bush replied: First, let me just say one comment about what the Vice President said: I think one of the lessons in between World War I and World War II is we let our Military atrophy and we can’t do that. We’ve got to rebuild our Military- but one of the problems we have in the military is we’re in a lot of places around the world and I mentioned one- and that’s the Balkans- I’d very much like to get our troops out of there. I recognize we can't do it now, nor do I advocate an immediate withdrawal: that would be an abrogation of our agreement with NATO. No one is suggesting that but I think it ought to be one of our priorities to work with our European friends to convince them to put troops on the ground: there is an example. Haiti is another example. Now there are some places… where I supported the Administration: in Colombia- I think it's important for us to be training Colombians in that part of the world; our Hemisphere is in our interests- to have a peaceful Colombia.
Lehrer followed up: The use of the military: Some people are now suggesting that, if you don't want to use the military to maintain the peace- to do the civil thing, is it time to consider a civil force of some kind that comes in after the military that builds nations or all of that…
The Texan immediately, and rather vehemently, jumped in: I don’t think so- I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. We’re going to have kind of a "nation building corps" from America? Absolutely not- our military is meant to fight and win war: that's what it's meant to do. And when it gets overextended morale drops… I strongly believe we need to have a military presence in the Korean Peninsula, not only to keep the peace on the peninsula, but to keep regional stability. And I strongly believe we need to keep a presence in NATO- but I’m going to be judicious as to how to use the military: it needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear and the exit strategy obvious.
The Vice President responded: I don't disagree with that- and I certainly don't disagree that we ought to get our troops home from places like the Balkans as soon as we can as soon as the mission is complete. That's what we did in Haiti: there are no more than a handful of American military personnel in Haiti now- and Haitians have their problems but we gave them a chance to restore Democracy: and that's really about all we can do. But if you have a situation like that right in our backyard with chaos about to break out and flotillas forming to come across the water and all kinds of violence there, right in one of our neighboring countries there, then I think that we did the right thing there. And as for this idea of nation building, the phrase sounds grandiose and… we can't allow ourselves to get overextended: I certainly agree with that. And that's why I've supported building up our capacity, I've devoted in the budget I've proposed- as I said last week -more than twice as much as the Governor has proposed. I think that it's in better shape now than he generally does. We've had some disagreements about that. He said that two divisions would have to report not ready for duty and that's not what the Joint Chiefs say. But there's no doubt that we have to continue building up readiness and military strength and we have to also be very cautious in the way we use our Military.
Lehrer then took this issue into a different field: In the non-military area of influencing events around the world, the financial and economic area: World Bank president Wolfensohn said recently… that U.S. contributions to overseas development assistance is lower now almost than it has ever been. Is that a problem for you?… What is your idea about what the United States’ obligations are: I’m talking about financial assistance and that sort of thing to other countries- to poor countries?
The Texas Governor answered: I mentioned Third World debt: that's a place where we can use our generosity to influence- in a positive way- influence nations. I believe we ought to have Foreign Aid but I don’t think we ought to just to have Foreign Aid for the sake of Foreign Aid. I think Foreign Aid needs to be used to encourage markets and reform. I think a lot of times we just send aid and we feel better about it and it ends up being spent the wrong way and there's some pretty egregious examples recently- one being Russia, where we had IMF loans that end up in the pockets of a lot of powerful people and didn't help the nation. I think the IMF has got a role in the world but I don't want to see the IMF out there as a way to say to world bankers if you make a bad loan, we'll bail you out- it needs to be available for emergency situations. I thought the President did the right thing with Mexico and was strongly supportive of the Administration in Mexico- but I don't think the IMF ought to be a stop loss for people who ought to be able to evaluate risks themselves. So I'll look at every place where we're investing money- I just want to make sure the return is good.
Lehrer turned to Vice President Gore: Do you think we're meeting our obligations properly?
Gore replied: No, I would make some changes: I think there need to be reforms in the IMF- I've generally supported it but I've seen them make some calls that I thought were highly questionable and I think that there's a general agreement in many parts of the world now that there ought to be changes in the IMF. The World Bank, I think, is generally doing a better job but I think one of the big issues here that doesn't get nearly enough attention is the issue of corruption- the Governor mentioned it earlier: I've worked on this issue- it's an enormous problem and corruption in official agencies- like militaries and police departments around the world, customs officials- that's one of the worst forms of it and we have got to again lead by example and help these other countries that are trying to straighten out their situations find the tools in order to do it. I just think… that this is an absolutely unique period in World History: the world’s coming together, as I said- they're looking to us and we have a fundamental choice to make. Are we going to step up to the plate as a nation the way we did after World War II, the way that generation of heroes said ‘okay, the United States is going to be the leader ’- and the world benefited tremendously from the courage that they showed in those postwar years. I think that in the aftermath of the Cold War, it's time for us to do something very similar- to step up to the plate, to provide the leadership: leadership on the environment, leadership to make sure the world economy keeps moving in the right direction- again, that means not running big deficits here and not squandering our surplus: it means having intelligent decisions that keep our prosperity going and… shepherds that economic strength so we can provide that leadership role.
Bush responded: Let me comment on that: I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be. We can help- and maybe it's just our difference in government, the way we view government: I mean, I want to empower people- I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country and say ‘we do it this way- so should you’. Now, I think we can help- and I know we got to encourage democracy in the marketplaces. But take Russia, for example: we went into Russia and we said ‘here’s some IMF money’ and it ended up in Viktor Chernomyrdin's pocket and others- and yet we played like there was reform. The only people who are going to reform Russia are Russians: they’re going to have to make the decision themselves- Mr. Putin is going to have to make the decision as to whether or not he wants to adhere to the Rule of Law and normal accounting practices so that, if countries and/or entities invest capital, there's a reasonable rate of return- a way to get their money out of the economy- but Russia has to make the decision. We can work with them on security matters, for example, but it's their call to make. So, I’m not exactly sure where the Vice President is coming from- but I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying ‘we do it this way, so should you’. Now, we trust Freedom, we know Freedom is a powerful… a powerful force, much bigger than the United States of America- as we saw recently in the Balkans- but maybe I misunderstand where you're coming from, Mr. Vice President, but I think the United States must be humble- and must be proud and confident of our values- but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.
Round Five: A close one. Bush's vehemently opposing an American "civil force"- what the Texan called a "nation building corps"- gained him points, but Gore came back with a well-stated defense of his own positions on the IMF (though the Texan's stand against corruption among those receiving IMF loans kept Bush slightly ahead, especially as Gore had to here follow the Governor's lead). The Vice President well stated the "fundamental choice" facing the United States as to whether or not it will continue to take the lead in the 21st Century as it had in the second half of the 20th, but Bush finally sealed this "Round" with his appeal to humility in the projection of American power, the issue that helped the Republican win "Round One". Scoring: Bush 10, Gore 9 [cumulative: Bush 48, Gore 46 ]
After thwarting a Gore attempt to respond to what Governor Bush had just said, the moderator asked the next question of the Vice President: First, a couple of follow-ups from the Vice Presidential Debate last week… Would you support or sign- as President- a Federal law banning Racial Profiling by police and other authorities at all levels of government?
Gore answered: Yes, I would. The only thing an Executive Order can accomplish is to ban it in Federal law enforcement agencies but I would also support a law in the Congress that would have the effect of doing the same thing. I just… think that Racial Profiling is a serious problem. I remember when the stories first came out about the stops in New Jersey by the highway patrol there- and I know it's been going on a long time: in some ways this is just a new label for something that’s been going on for years- but I have to confess that it was the first time that I really focused on it in a new way- and I was surprised at the extent of it-and I think we've now got so many examples around the country that we really have to find ways to end this. Imagine… what it is like for someone to be singled out unfairly, unjustly and feel the unfair force of law simply because of a race or ethnicity: now that runs counter to what the United States of America is all about at our core. And it's not an easy problem to solve- but, if I am entrusted with the Presidency, it will be the first Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century.
Bush responded: Yeah, I can't imagine what it would be like to be singled out because of race and stopped and harassed: that's just flat wrong and that's not what America is all about and so we ought to do everything we can to end Racial Profiling. One of my concerns, though, is I don't want to federalize the local police forces… obviously, in the egregious cases, we have to enforce civil rights law but we need to make sure that internal affairs divisions at the local level do their job and be given a chance to do their job- I believe in local control of governments- and obviously, if they don't, there needs to be a consequence at the federal level.But it's very important that we not overstep our bounds and I think… most police offices are good dedicated, honorable citizens who are doing their job, putting their lives at risk, who aren't bigoted or aren’t prejudiced: I don't think they ought to be held guilty- but I do think we need to find out where Racial Profiling occurs and do something about it and say to the local folks get it done and if you can't there will be a Federal consequence.
Lehrer pressed the Texas Governor: And that could be a Federal law? Bush replied: Yeah.
Lehrer turned to Gore: And you would agree?
The Vice President replied: I would agree and I also agree that most police officers, of course, are doing a good job and hate this practice also. I talked to an African-American police officer in Springfield, Massachusetts not long ago who raised this question and said that, in his opinion, one of the biggest solutions is in the training and not only the training in police procedures but human relations. And I think that Racial Profiling is part of a larger issue of how we deal with race in America. And as for singling people out because of race, you know James Byrd was singled out because of his race in Texas and other Americans have been singled out because of their race or ethnicity and that's why I think that we can embody our values by passing a hate crimes law. I think these crimes are different: I think they're different because they're based on prejudice and hatred which gives rise to crimes that have not just a single victim but they're intended to stigmatize and dehumanize a whole group of people.
Lehrer turned to the Texas Republican: Do you have a different view of that… on hate crimes laws?
The Governor replied: No, I don’t- really. We got one in Texas and, guess what? The three men who murdered James Byrd, guess what's going to happen to them? They're going to be put to death. A jury found them guilty and it’s going to be hard to punish them any worse after they get put to death- and it's the right cause: it's the right decision. Secondly, there’s other forms of Racial Profiling that goes on in America: Arab-Americans are racially profiled on what’s called "secret evidence"- people are stopped and we’ve got to do something about that. My friend- Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan- is pushing a law to make sure that Arab-Americans are treated with respect. So, Racial Profiling isn't just an issue of local police forces, it's an issue throughout our Society and- as we become a diverse society- we're going to have to deal with it more and more. I believe, though- I believe as sure as I'm sitting here- that most Americans really care: they're tolerant people- they're good, tolerant people. It's the very few that create most of the crises and we just have had to find them and deal with them.
Lehrer then asked Governor Bush: If you become President… are there other areas- racial problem areas- that you would deal with as President involving discrimination- like you said Arab-Americans: but also Hispanics, Asians as well as Blacks in this country?
Bush answered: Let me tell you where the biggest discrimination comes: in public education- when we just move children through the schools. My friend Phyllis Hunter… she had one of the greatest lines of all lines she said ‘reading is the new civil right’: she's right! And to make sure our society is as hopeful as it possibly can be, every single child in America must be educated- I mean every child. It starts with making sure every child learns to read: K through 2 diagnostic testing so we know whether or not there's a deficiency, curriculum that works- and phonics needs to be an integral part of our reading curriculum, intensive reading laboratories, teacher retraining- and there needs to be a wholesale effort against Racial Profiling, which is illiterate children. We can do better in our public schools: we can close an achievement gap and it starts with making sure we have strong accountability… one of the cornerstones of reform- and good reform- is to measure, because when you measure you can ask the question: do they know? Is anybody being profiled? Is anybody being discriminated against? It becomes a tool- a corrective tool and I believe the Federal Government must say: if you receive any money, any money from the Federal Government- for disadvantaged children, for example- you must show us whether or not the children are learning. If they are, fine, and if they’re not, there has to be a consequence. And so to make sure we end up getting rid of basic structural prejudice is education- there is nothing more prejudiced than not educating a child.
Lehrer turned to Gore: What would be on your racial discrimination elimination list as President?
The Vice President replied: Well, I think we need tough enforcement of the civil rights laws: I think we still need affirmative action. I would pass a hate crimes law, as I’ve said… I guess I had misunderstood the Governor's previous position and the Byrd family may have a misunderstanding of it in Texas also…
The moderator jumped in: What is the misunderstanding? Let’s clear this up.
Gore said: Well, I had thought that there was a controversy at the end of the legislative session where the hate crimes law in Texas… failed and that the Byrd family among others asked you to support it, Governor, and it died in committee for lack of support- am I wrong about that? Bush asked, somewhat non-plussed: You don't realize we have a hate crimes statute here? Gore began: I'm talking about the one that was proposed... but the Texas Governor cut him off: What the Vice President must not understand is we’ve got a hate crimes bill in Texas and, secondly, the people that murdered Mr. Byrd got the ultimate punishment- the death penalty…
Lehrer pressed the Republican: They were prosecuted under the murder laws, were they not, in Texas?
Bush replied: Well… in this case, when you murder somebody, it's hate… The crime is hate and they got the ultimate punishment: I'm not exactly sure how you enhance the penalty any more than the death penalty- but we happen to have a statute on the books- a hate crime statute- in Texas.
Gore jumped in: May I respond?… I may have been misled by all the news reports about this matter because the law that was proposed in Texas that had the support of the Byrd family and a whole lot of people in Texas did, in fact, die in committee. There may be some other statute that was already on the books, but certainly the advocates of the hate crimes law felt that a tough new law was needed- and it's important… not just because of Texas, but because this mirrors the national controversy. There is pending now in the Congress a national hate crimes law- because of James Byrd, because of Matthew Shepard who was crucified on a split rail fence by bigots, because of others- and that law has died in committee also because of the same kind of opposition.
Lehrer followed up: And you would support that?- the Vice President enthusiastically responded: Absolutely!
The moderator turned to Governor Bush: Would you support a national hate crimes law?
The Texan responded: I would support the Orrin Hatch version of it, not the Senator Kennedy version- but let me say to you, Mr. Vice President, we're happy with our laws on our books… there was another bill that did die in committee- but I want to repeat, if you have a state that's fully supports the law, like we do in Texas, we're going to go after all crime and we're going to make sure people get punished for the crime. And, in this case, we can't enhance the penalty any more than putting those three thugs to death and that's what is going to happen in the State of Texas.
Round Six: Vice President Gore won this "Round" handily, though Governor Bush might have done better than he ultimately did with his linking Racial Profiling to the issue of the failures of education as regards poor (in many cases, minority) children- much as his running mate, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, had in the Vice Presidential Debate the week before. The problem here for the Texas Republican- and one for which I hit him but good!- was in his rather disingenuous implication that the three men who murdered James Byrd had been convicted under a Texas hate crimes law when, in fact, they were convicted under the regular homicide statutes of the State of Texas. The Governor's protestations (once he was "caught out") that murder is, by definition, hate- and that Texas, nevertheless, does have a hate crimes law anyway- fell largely flat because Bush's response seemed more like that of a child caught in a fib with very little maneuvering room with which to extricate himself from the consequence of that "little white lie". On the whole, this "Round" ended with a rather embarrassing performance by Governor Bush! Scoring: Gore 10, Bush 7 [cumulative: Gore 56, Bush 55 ]
Lehrer asked the next question of Governor Bush: Another Vice Presidential Debate follow up… both Senator Lieberman and Secretary Cheney said they were sympathetically rethinking their views on same sex relationships. What's your position on that?
Bush answered: I'm not for gay marriage: I think marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and I appreciate the way the Administration signed the Defense of Marriage act. I presume the Vice President supported it when the President signed that bill and supports it now- but I think marriage is a sacred institution. I'm going to be respectful for people who may disagree with me- I've had a record of doing so in the State of Texas: I’ve been a person that’s been called a uniter, not a divider ‘cause… I accept other people's points of view but I feel strongly that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
The Vice President responded: I agree with that and I did support that law but I think that we should find a way to allow some kind of civic unions and I basically agree with Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman and I think the three of us have one view and the Governor has another.
Lehrer turned to the Texas Republican: Is that right?
Governor Bush rebutted: I'm not sure what kind of view he's ascribing to me. I can just tell you I'm a person who respects other people: I respect… one day he says he agrees with me and then he says he doesn't: I’m not sure where he was coming from. I will be a tolerant person: I've been a tolerant person all my life. I just happen to believe strongly that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Lehrer pressed him: Do you believe, in general terms, that Gays and Lesbians should have the same rights as other Americans?- to which the Texan replied: Yes, I don't think they ought to have special rights but I think they ought to have the same rights.
Gore retorted: Well, there's a law pending called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act: I strongly support it. What it says is that Gays and Lesbians can't be fired from their jobs because they’re Gay or Lesbian and it would be a Federal law preventing that… It's been blocked by the opponents in the majority in the Congress. I wonder if the Governor who lend his support to that law.
Lehrer turned to Bush: Governor?- but Bush was clearly uncomfortable being put into the position of discussing an issue which would put him squarely between the rock of the moderate voters he would need to continue to attract in order to win this Election and the hard place of the Hard Right of his own Party: Is there a question coming around here?Lehrer replied: Well, it's a logical response.
The Governor seemed to be rather resentful about being pressed on this: Well, I have no idea. I mean, you can throw out all kinds… I don't know the particulars of this law. I would tell you I'm the kind of person- I don't hire or fire somebody based upon their sexual orientation. As a matter of fact, I would like to take the issue further: I don't think it's any of my concerns how you conduct your sex life and I think that's a private matter and I think that's the way it ought to be. But I’m going to be respectful for people, I'll tolerate people and I support equal rights- but not special rights- for people.
Lehrer followed up: Special rights? How does that affect Gays and Lesbians?
The Governor commented: Well, if they're given special protective status. That doesn't mean we shouldn't fully enforce laws and fully protect people and fully honor people- which I will do as the President of the United States.
Round Seven: Another round the Vice President won rather handily. Governor Bush was on firm ground early in this "Round" in his strong defense of his views on the sanctity of marriage- but he then made what can only be described as a "tactical error": he attempted to put Gore on the defensive by trying to ascertain from the Vice President whether Gore supported his own President's views on the Defense of Marriage Act (which is intended to protect State courts from having to recognize Gay and Lesbian marriage or civil unions which might become legal in other States: this law is of dubious constitutionality because of the Full Faith and Credit Clause [Article IV, section 1] of the U.S. Constitution). Instead, Gore deftly turned the issue on its head by citing his own support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which- from what I can gather- Governor Bush does not support. Bush already had put himself into the position of a rather evasive "political dog-dance" around this aspect of the issue with his citing of the somewhat vague "special rights versus equal rights" litany of the Hard Right and then lamely complaining that Gore was trying to have both sides of the same issue (by the Vice President supporting Defense of Marriage and yet supporting the Civil Union concept). He now further compounded his seeming refusal to confront this issue head on by, at first, trying to evade a direct response to the Vice President, then briefly complaining that he was being hit by Gore throwing out all kinds of (I would assume, laws- had he completed his thought) before interrupting himself with a brief expounding upon one's sex life being private, which completely missed the thrust of the issue and was, at best, off-topic or, at worst, disingenuous. The Texas Republican was ever the "dancing politician" here and it earned him the biggest margin of loss in any "Round" in any of the three Debates so far. Gore 10, Bush 6 [cumulative: Gore 66, Bush 61 ]
Moderator Lehrer then asked the next question of Vice President Gore: How do you see the connection between controlling gun sales in this country and the incidence of death by accidental or intentional use of guns?
The Vice President responded: I hope we can come back to the subject of Education: the Governor made an extensive statement on it and I have a very different view than the one he expressed. But that having been said, I believe that- well, first of all, let me say that the Governor and I agree on some things where this subject is concerned. I will not do anything to affect the rights of hunters or sportsmen, I think that homeowners have to be respected in their right to have a gun if they wish to: the problem I see is that there are too many guns getting into the hands of children and criminals and people who, for whatever reason- some kind of history of stalking or domestic abuse, really should not be able to get guns; I think these assault weapons are a problem. So, I favor closing the gun show loophole: in fact, I cast the tie-breaking vote to close it but then the majority in the House of Representatives went the other way. That's still pending: if we could get agreement on that maybe they could pass that in the final days of this Congress. I think we ought to restore the three-day waiting period under the Brady Law, I think we should toughen the enforcement of gun laws so that the ones that are already on the books can be enforced much more effectively. Some of the restrictions that have been placed by the Congress… in the last few years, I think, have been unfortunate. I think that we ought to make all schools gun-free, have a gun-free zone around every school in this country: I think that measures like these are important- child safety trigger locks on a mandatory basis and others.
Governor Bush retorted: Well, it starts with enforcing law- when you say loud and clear to somebody: if you're going to carry a gun illegally, we’re going to arrest you; if you sell a gun illegally, you need to be arrested and if you commit a crime with a gun, there needs to be absolute certainty in the law and that means that the local law enforcement officials need help at the Federal level: programs like Project Exile where the Federal Government intensifies arresting people who illegally use guns and we haven't done a very good job of that at the Federal level recently and I’m going to make it a priority. Secondly, I don't think we ought to be selling guns to people who shouldn't have them: that's why I support instant background checks at gun shows. One of the reasons we have an instant background check is so that we instantly know whether or not somebody should have a gun... In Texas, I tried to do something innovatively… there's a lot of talk about trigger locks being on guns sold in the future, I support that. But I said: look- if you want a trigger lock to make your gun safe come and get one for free and so we're distributing in our State of Texas for free. I think we ought to raise the age at which a juvenile can carry a handgun from 18 to 21. I disagree with the Vice President on this issue… he is for registration of guns. I think the only people who are going to show up to register or get a license- I guess licensing, like a driver’s license- of a gun; the only people who are going to show up are law-abiding citizens. The criminal is not going to show up and say hey, give me my I.D.card: it’s the law-abiding citizens who will do that. I don't think that is going to be an effective tool to… keep our Society safe.
Lehrer asked: All right, so- on guns, somebody… wants to cast a vote based on your differences, where are the differences?
Gore answered: Well, I'm not for registration. I am for licensing by states of new handgun purchases.
Lehrer pressed him: What’s that mean?- to which the Democrat replied: A photo license I.D.- like a driver’s license- for new handguns… Lehrer quickly followed up: You would have to get the license- a photo I.D…. before you could buy the gun? The Vice President answered: Correct. The moderator next asked: And… who would issue it?
Vice President Gore replied: The State. I think states should do that for new handguns because too many criminals are getting guns. There was a recent investigation of the number in Texas… who were given concealed weapons permits in spite of the fact that they had records- and the "Los Angeles Times" spent a lot of ink going into that. But I am not for doing anything that would affect hunters or sportsmen: rifles, shotguns, existing handguns. I do think that sensible gun safety measures are warranted now. Look… this is in the aftermath of Columbine and Paducah and all of the places around our country where the Nation has been shocked by these weapons in the hands of the wrong people. The woman who bought the gun for the two boys who did that killing at Columbine said that if she had had to give her name and fill out a form there, she would not have bought those guns- that conceivably could have prevented that tragedy.
Lehrer then put his next question to Governor Bush: Back to the question about the differences on Gun Control. What are they… from your point of view, between you and the Vice President?
The Texan replied: Well, I'm not for photo licensing. But let me say something about Columbine: listen, we’ve got gun laws. He says we ought to have gun-free schools and everybody believes that- I'm sure every State in the Union has got them: you can’t carry a gun into a school! And there ought to be a consequence when you do carry a gun into a school. But Columbine spoke to a larger issue: it's really a matter of culture- a culture that somewhere along the line we've begun to disrespect life. Where a child can walk in and have their heart turned dark as a result of being on the Internet and walk in and decide to take somebody else's life. So, gun laws are important- no question about it- but so is loving children and character education classes and faith-based programs being a part of after-school programs. Some desperate child needs to have somebody put their arms around them and say we love you and so there's a society that of ours that has to do a better job of teaching children right from wrong and we can enforce law: but there seems to be a lot of preoccupation on- not necessarily in this Debate, but just in general- on law. But there's a larger law: love your neighbor like you would like to be loved yourself and that's where our society must head if we're going to be a peaceful and prosperous society.
Gore rebutted: I also believe in the Golden Rule and I agree with a lot of the other things that the Governor has said. We do have a serious problem in our culture: Tipper and I have worked on the problem of violence in entertainment aimed at children- she's worked on it longer than I have, but I feel very strongly about that and, if I'm elected President, I will do something about that. But I think we have to start with better parenting, but I don't think that we can ignore the role played by guns. I mean, the fact is that… even though no state wants them, there are guns in some schools and the reason it's so difficult for schools to control that is because in recent years there has been a flood of cheap handguns that are so widely available that kids are finding ways to get a hold of them and I think that, if you look at the situation as it exists here in the United States compared to any other country in the world, it seems to me pretty obvious that- while we respect the rights of hunters and sportsmen- we do need some common sense gun safety steps that stem this flood of guns that are getting in the wrong hands.
Bush retorted: No question about that but there also needs to be strong enforcement of the law. Some kid who feels like- doesn't matter where the gun comes from, it could be a cheap gun or expensive gun. What matters is something in this person’s head says there’s not going to be a consequence- so, in my State, we toughened up the Juvenile Justice laws: we added beds- we're tough! We believe in tough love; we say, if you get caught carrying a gun, you're automatically detained and that's what needs to happen. We've got laws- if laws need to be strengthened, like instant background checks, that's important.
Round Eight: This round clearly- and rather easily- went to Governor Bush despite the passion on Gore's part on his position on the issue. Either candidate probably could have won this one, but Governor Bush deftly tied the Gun Control issue to his core concept of restoring what he calls "a Culture of Life", which would have given him the edge anyway. Gore's scoring the State of Texas for handing out too many concealed weapons permits right after he argued gun licensing should be left up to the States (presumably Texas would also have its own gun licensing rules as well, even under the Vice President's proposal) was quite disingenuous; in addition, he failed to blunt the Texas Republican's claim that only law-abiding citizens would show up to get a photo I.D. under the Democrat's proposal. The Vice President also didn't help his cause by opining that he should be allowed to expound on Education before launching into his own answer to Jim Lehrer's question and I shaved the better part of a point off for what was, to me, an admittedly minor rules infraction. Scoring: Bush 10, Gore 8 [cumulative: Gore 74, Bush 71 ]
Jim Lehrer put the next question to Governor Bush: Both of you have talked much about Medicare and health care for seniors. What about the more than 40 million younger Americans who do not have health insurance right now? What would you do about that?
Bush replied: Well, I?ve got a plan to do something about that- it?s to make health care affordable and available this way- first, there's some who should be buying health care who choose not to: there's? some of the healthy folks, healthy young kids, that will never get sick- therefore, I? don't need health care right now- and, for those, what I think we need to do is develop an investment type vehicle that would be an incentive for them to invest: like medical savings accounts with rollover capacity. In other words, you say to a youngster: it would be in your financial interest to start saving for future illness- but for the working folks that do want to have health care that can't afford it, a couple of things we need to do: one, we need more community health centers, I?ve developed- put out money in my budget to expand community health centers all around the country, these are places where people can get primary care? and they're good, they're very important parts of the safety net of health care. Secondly, that you get a 2,000 dollar rebate from the government if you're a family of 30,000 dollars or less- it scales down as it gets higher- that you can use to purchase health care in the private markets: it will be a huge down payment for a pretty darn good system- if you? allow states to allow the mother to match some of the children's health insurance money with it, to pool purchasing power and, to make health care more affordable, allow business associations like the National Federation of Independent Business or the Chamber of Commerce or the National Restaurant Association to write "association plans" across jurisdictional lines so that small businesses have got the capacity of national pooling to drive the cost of insurance down. I think that?s the very best way to go: it empowers people, it trusts people? and it?s a practical way to encourage people to purchase health care insurance.
Vice President Gore responded: It's one of my top priorities… to give every single child in the United States affordable health care within the next four years. I’d like to see- eventually, in this country- some form of universal health care but I'm not for a government-run system; in fact, I'm for shrinking the size of government: I want a smaller and smarter government. I have been in charge of this "reinventing government" streamlining project that has reduced the size of government by more than 300,000 people in the last several years and the budget plan that I've put out- according to the "Los Angeles Times" again- the way these things are typically measured as a percentage of the GDP will bring government spending down to the lowest level in 50 years. So. I want to proceed carefully to cover more people but I think we should start by greatly expanding the so-called child health insurance- or CHIP- program… to give health insurance to every single child in this country. I think it's intolerable that we have so many millions of children without any health insurance: so it's one of my top priorities. Now, I know that we have some disagreements on this- and I'm sorry to tell you that, you know, there is a record here and Texas ranks 49th out of the 50 states… in children with health care, 49th for women with health care and 50th for families with health care. So it is a priority for me- I guarantee you. I'm not aware of any program- well… I'll just leave it at that. I think it ought to be a top priority.
Lehrer turned to Bush: Are the Vice President's figures correct about Texas?
The Governor answered: Well, first of all let me say he's not for a government-run health care system: I thought that's exactly what he and Mrs. Clinton and them fought for in 1993 was a government-run health care system- it was, fortunately, stopped in its tracks. Secondly, we spend 4.7 billion dollars a year on the uninsured in the State of Texas: our rate of uninsured, the percentage of uninsured in Texas has gone down, while the percentage of uninsured in America has gone up. Our CHIPs program got a late start because our government meets only four months out of every two years, Mr. Vice President. It may come as a shock to somebody has been in Washington for so long- but actually limited government can work in the second largest State in the Union. And, therefore, Congress passes a bill after our session in 1997 ended- we passed an enabling legislation in 1999, we’ve signed up over 110,000 children to the CHIPs program: for comparable states our size, we're signing them up as fast as any other state. You can quote all the numbers you want but I'm telling you we care about our people in Texas: we spent a lot of money to make sure people get health care in the State of Texas and we're doing a better job than they are at the national level for reducing uninsured.
The moderator turned to the Vice President: Is he right?
Gore answered: I don't know about all these percentages that he throws out but… I speculate that the reason why he didn't answer your question directly as to whether my numbers were right, the facts were right about Texas ranking dead last in families with health insurance and 49th out of 50 for both children and women, is because those facts are correct. And as for why it happened, I'm no expert on the Texas procedures, but what my friends there tell me is that the Governor opposed a measure put forward by Democrats in the Legislature to expand the number of children that would be covered and- instead- directed the money toward a tax cut, a significant part of which went to wealthy interests. He declared the need for a new tax cut for the oil companies in Texas, an emergency need, and so the money was taken away from the CHIP program… you don't have to take my word for this: there is now a Federal judge's opinion about the current management of this program ordering the State of Texas to do something– and you should read that judge's language about this! I believe there are 1.4 million children in Texas who do not have health insurance: 600,000 of whom- and maybe some of those have since gotten it- but, as of a year ago, 600,000 of them were actually eligible for it but they couldn't sign up for it because of the barriers that they had to surmount.
Lehrer turned back to the Texas Governor: Are those numbers correct?…Are his charges correct?
Bush retorted: If he's trying to allege that I'm a hardhearted person and I don't care about children, he's absolutely wrong: we've spent 4.7 billion dollars a year in the State of Texas for uninsured people- and they get health care. Now, it's not the most efficient way to get people health care but I want to remind you the number of uninsured people in America during their watch has increased… he can give any excuse he wants, but the facts are that we're reducing the number of uninsured as a percentage of our population and, as a percentage of the population, it’s increasing nationally. But somehow the allegation that we don't care and we're going to give money for this interest or that interest and not for children in the State of Texas is totally absurd…Let me tell you who the jury is: the people of Texas. There's only been one Governor ever elected to back to back four-year terms and that was me- and I was able to do so with a lot of Democrat votes, nearly 50% of the Hispanic vote, about 27% of the African-American vote because people know I'm a conservative person and a compassionate person- so he can throw all the kinds of numbers around. I’m just telling you: our state comes together to do what is right- we come together, both Republicans and Democrats.
Lehrer now turned back to Vice President Gore: The reason you brought this up… are you suggesting that those numbers and that record will reflect the way Governor Bush will operate in this area of health insurance as President?
The Democrat replied: Yes, yes- but it's not a statement about his heart: I don't claim to know his heart- I think he's a good person. I make no allegations about that- I believe him when he says that he has a good heart. I know enough about your story to admire a lot of the things that you have done, as a person. But I think it's about his priorities and let me tell you exactly why I think that the choice he made to give a tax cut for the oil companies and others before addressing this- I mean if you were the Governor of a State that was dead last in health care for families and all of a sudden you found yourself with the biggest surplus your state had ever had in its history, wouldn't you want to maybe use some of it to climb from 50th to say 45- or 40 or something or maybe better? I would! Now, but here’s why it's directly relevant… because by his own budget numbers, his proposals for spending on tax cuts for the wealthiest of the wealthy are more than the new spending proposals that he has made for health care and education and national defense all combined- according to his own numbers. So, it's not a question of his heart- as far as I know, it's a question of priorities and values…
Governor Bush jumped in: First of all, that's simply not true- what he just said, of course… The top one percent receive 223 as opposed to 445 billion in new spending… let's talk about my tax plan: the top one percent will pay one-third of all the Federal income taxes and, in return, get one-fifth of the benefits because most of the tax reductions go to the people at the bottom end of the economic ladder- that stands in stark contrast, by the way, to a man who’s going to leave 50 million- 50 million- Americans out of tax relief. We just have a different point of view; it's a totally different point of view. He believes only the right people ought to get tax relief; I believe everybody who pays taxes ought to get tax relief. Let me go back to Texas… for a minute: We pay 4.7 billion- I can't emphasize to you how much. I signed that bill that puts CHIPs in place: the bill finally came out at the end of the 1999 session- we're working hard to sign up children and doing it faster than any other state our size: comparable state. We're making really good progress and our state cares a lot about our children. My priority is going to be the health of our citizens- these folks have had eight years to get something done in Washington, D.C. on the uninsured, they have not done it; they've had eight years to get something done on Medicare and they have not got it done. My case to the American people is, if you're happy with inactivity, stay with the horse- the horse that’s up there now- but, if you want change, you need to get somebody that knows how to bring Republicans and Democrats together to get positive things done for America!
Round Nine: Another round which Vice President Gore won as Governor Bush came unraveled, although Bush managed to salvage something at the very end of this "Round" which could have otherwise been another very bad loss for the Texan a-la Rounds Six and Seven. Bush started off well, but as he got bogged down in numbers ("you get a 2,000 dollar rebate from the government if you're a family of 30,000 dollars or less- it scales down as it gets higher- that you can use to purchase health care in the private markets... if you allow states to allow the mother to match some of the children's health insurance money with it, to pool purchasing power "), I couldn't help but think of the very words of his own running mate, Dick Cheney, during the Vice Presidential Debate when- of the Gore tax plan as then being expounded by Senator Joe Lieberman- Cheney opined that one would have to be a Certified Public Accountant to understand it. Still, the Texas Republican was fine until Gore predictably scored Texas for its low rankings when it came to the uninsured: Bush reacted with the quite incredible statement, after stating that the reason there were so many uninsured was that the CHIPs program in his state got a late start because of Texas' biennial and limited regular sessions of its Legislature, that this was- somehow- proof that "limited government can work in the second largest State in the Union" (as someone who has been- as a hobby- studying the structures and procedures of State and Local Government in the USofA for nearly three decades and, thus, has long studied the development of- as well as the reasons for- the slow death, over more than five decades now, of the biennial and limited sessions of state legislatures, I found the Governor's statement rather bizarre: couldn't he have called his state's Legislature into an emergency special session after Congress had authorized CHIPs if uninsured children were so much a priority for him as he now claimed? Gore's citing the "emergency" tax cut for oil interests, which cut into the CHIPs money in Texas, was quite devastating). Bush's claim that the Vice President's citation of Texas' lagging as regards this issue as being a personal attack on Bush's own compassion only compounded the error and Gore continue to score points by pointing this out. Bush came back slightly by blunting- but only somewhat- Gore's numbers on his tax plan to avoid a "Round Six"-type debacle but, with Gore having deftly linked his take on why the CHIPs program in the Lone Star State had been delayed to the Vice President's oft-repeated criticisms of the Governor's tax plan, this "Round" had already been well lost by the Texan by then. Scoring: Gore 10, Bush 8 [cumulative: Gore 84, Bush 79 ]
Moderator Lehrer put the next question to the Vice President: On the environment: in your 1992 book you said "we must make the rescue of our environment the central organizing principle for Civilization and there must be a wrenching transformation to save the Planet". Do you still feel that way?
Gore answered: I do. I think that, in this 21st Century, we will soon see the consequences of what’s called global warming. There was a study just a few weeks ago suggesting that in summertime the north polar ice cap will be completely gone in 50 years. Already many people see the strange weather conditions that the old-timers say they've never seen before in their lifetimes and what is happening is the level of pollution is increasing significantly. Now, here’s the good news… if we take the leadership role and build the new technologies- like the new kinds of cars and trucks that Detroit is itching to build, then we can create millions of good new jobs by being first into the market with these new kinds of cars and trucks and other kinds of technologies. You know, the Japanese are breathing down our necks on this: they're moving very rapidly because they know that it is a fast-growing world market. Some of these other countries- particularly in the developing world- their pollution is much worse than anywhere else and their people want higher standards of living and so they're looking for ways to satisfy their desire for a better life and still reduce pollution at the same time. I think that holding onto the old ways and the old argument that the environment and the economy are in conflict is really outdated: we have to be bold, we have to provide leadership. Now, it's true that we disagree on this. Governor said that he doesn't think this problem is necessarily caused by people, he's for letting the oil companies into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Houston’s just become the smoggiest city in the country and Texas is number one in industrial pollution. We have a very different outlook and, I will tell you this, I will fight for a clean environment in ways that strengthen our economy.
Governor Bush rebutted: Let me start with Texas: we are a big industrial state, we reduced our industrial waste by 11 percent, we cleaned up more brown fields than any other Administration in my State’s history- 450 of them, our water is cleaner now…
Lehrer interrupted: Explain what a "brown field" is for those who don’t follow this.
The Texan responded: It's an abandoned industrial site that just sits idle in some of our urban centers and people who are willing to invest capital in the brown fields don’t want to do so for fear of lawsuit- I think we ought to have Federal liability protection depending upon whether or not standards have been met. The book you mentioned that Vice President Gore wrote, he also called for… big energy taxes in order to clean up the environment and now that the energy prices are high I guess he's not advocating those big energy taxes right now. I believe we ought to fully fund the land and water conservation fund… with half the money going to states so states can make the right decisions for environmental quality. I think we need to have clean coal technologies: I’ve proposed 2 billion dollars worth. By the way, I just found out the other day- an interesting fact- that there is a national petroleum reserve… in Prudhoe Bay that your Administration opened up for exploration in that pristine area and that was a smart move because there’s gas reserves up there- we need gas pipelines to bring the gas down: gas is a clean fuel that we can burn… we need to make sure that if we decontrol our plants… that the plants must conform to clean air standards, the grandfather plants- that's what we did in Texas, no excuses: I mean, you must conform. In other words, there're practical things we can do- but it starts with work in a collaborative effort with states and local folks: you know, if you own the land, every day is Earth Day! And people care a lot about their land and care about their environment. Not all wisdom is in Washington, D.C. on this issue.
Lehrer then asked a follow-up of Al Gore: Where do you see the basic difference- in very simple terms, in two or three sentences- between you and the Governor on the environment? If the voter wants to make a choice, what is it?
The Democrat replied:I'm really strongly committed to clean water and clean air and cleaning up the new kinds of challenges like global warming. He is right that I'm not in favor of energy taxes: I am in favor of tax cuts to encourage and give incentives for the quicker development of these new kinds of technologies and, let me say again, Detroit is raring to go on that. We differ on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as I have said; we differ on whether or not pollution controls ought to be voluntary… I don't think you can get results that way, we differ on the kinds of appointments that we would make.
To the Texas Governor, Jim Lehrer asked: What, would you say, is a fundamental difference?… I just want to know… ‘cause… we're getting close to the end of our time here… if somebody wanted to vote on the environment, how would you draw the differences?
The Republican answered: I don't believe in command and control out of Washington, D.C. I believe Washington ought to set standards… but, again, I think we ought to be collaborative at the local levels and I think we ought to work with people at the local levels and, by the way, I want to make sure- I can't let him just say something and not correct it… the electric decontrol bill that I fought for and signed in Texas has mandatory emission standards, Mr. Vice President and that's what we ought to do at the Federal level when it comes to grandfather plants for utilities… I think there's a difference… for example… when they took 40 million acres of land out of circulation without consulting local officials. I thought that was… out in the West… on the logging issue: that's not the way I would have done it. Perhaps some of that land needs to be set aside, but I certainly would have consulted with Governors and elected officials before I would have acted unilaterally.
The moderator pressed him: Do you believe the Federal Government still has some new rules and new regulations and new laws to pass in the environmental area?
Bush quickly responded: Absolutely!- so long as they're based upon Science and reasonable, so long as people have input.
Lehrer interrupted: What about global warming?
The Texan replied: I think it's an issue that we need to take very seriously, but I don’t think we know the solution to global warming yet and I don’t think we’ve gotten all the facts before we made decisions. I tell you one thing I'm not going to do: I’m not going to let the United States carry the burden for cleaning up the world's air- like the Kyoto Treaty would have done: China and India were exempted from that treaty! I think we need to be more evenhanded, as- evidently- 99 Senators- I think it was 99 Senators- supported that position.
Lehrer turned to the Vice President, noting Global warming: the Senate did turn it down.
99 to nothing, added Governor Bush.
Gore retorted: Well, that vote wasn't exactly… a lot of supporters of the Kyoto Treaty actually ended up voting for that because the way it was worded: but there’s no doubt there’s a lot of opposition to it in the Senate. I'm not for command and control techniques either. I'm for working with the groups- not just with industry but also with citizen’s groups and local communities to control sprawl in ways that the local communities themselves come up with. But I disagree that we don't know the cause of global warming: I think that we do- it's pollution: carbon dioxide and other chemicals that are even more potent- but in smaller quantities- that cause this. Look- the world’s temperature is going up, weather patterns are changing, storms are getting more violent and unpredictable. What are we going to tell our children? And I'm a grandfather now: I want to be able to tell my grandson- when I'm in my later years- that I didn't turn away from the evidence that showed that we were doing some serious harm. In my faith tradition… it's written in the Book of Matthew: where your heart is, there is your treasure also. And I believe… that we ought to recognize the value to our children and grandchildren of taking steps that preserve the environment in a way that's good for them.
Bush commented: I agree. I think… some of the scientists- I believe, Mr. Vice President- haven't they been changing their opinion a little bit on global warming?...
The moderator now interrupted: Both of you have now violated your own rules…
I’ve been trying so hard not to!, the Vice President protested, tongue-in-cheek.
Lehrer noted: Under you’re-all’s rules you are not allowed to ask each other a question. I let you do it a moment ago.
Twice! Governor Bush wryly noted. That's an interruption, Gore humorously pointed out.
Lehrer, chuckling himself, said That’s an interruption, OK… Anyhow you just did it…
I apologize, Mr. Vice President, the Texas Governor said. No, you are not allowed to do that either, see? Lehrer joked to the laughter of the audience. I'm sorry, go ahead- finish your thought, the moderator finished. People care about these things, I’ve found out.
Bush continued: Of course they care about them. Oh, you mean the rules? to even more laughter. Lehrer said: Go ahead.
The Texan went on: What the heck. Of course… global warming needs to be taken very seriously and I take it seriously- but Science, there's a lot- there’s differing opinions- and before we react I think it's best to have the full accounting, full understanding of what’s taking place. And I think- to answer your question- I think both of us care a lot about the environment. We may have different approaches: we may have different approaches in terms of how we deal with local folks. I just cited an example of the Administration just unilaterally acting, without any input- and I remember you gave a very good answer to New Hampshire about the White Mountains, about how it was important to keep that collaborative effort in place. I feel very strongly the same way- it certainly wasn't the attitude that took place out West, however.
Round Ten: All the jocularity at one point aside, this one actually went to Governor Bush, which might be surprising to some- considering how strong the Environment usually is- as an issue- for Democrats in general and Vice President Gore in particular. Gore failed to really address the Texan's complaint about what Gore had proposed in his 1992 work The Earth in the Balance, he failed to blunt the Governor's pointing out that the Clinton Administration had opened up reserves in Alaska not far from the national wildlife refuge that had been the focus of Gore/Lieberman scoring the Bush/Cheney ticket in the previous two Debates and the Vice President didn't really address Bush's charge of the Clinton Administration's failure to consult with local officials on environmental concerns in the West. Gore was saved from a bad loss similar to that which Bush had taken in "Round Six" by more or less drawing with the Texan on the issue of global warming (it helped that the Governor never really followed up on that difference of scientific opinion he cited) and by the Vice President's managing to relate that issue to the legacy he would like to leave to his own family. Scoring: Bush 10, Gore 8 [cumulative: Gore 92, Bush 89 ]
Moderator Jim Lehrer now asked a question of Governor Bush to start off what would turn out to be the "final round" of the Debate proper: Last question… and this flows somewhat out of the Boston debate. You, your running mate, your campaign officials have charged that Vice President Gore exaggerates, embellishes and stretches the facts, etcetera. Do you believe these are serious issues…this is a serious issue that the voters should use in deciding which one of you two men to vote for on November 7th?
Governor Bush answered: Well, we all make mistakes. I've been known to mangle a syllable or two myself… if you know what I mean. I think credibility is important- it is going to be important for the President to be credible with Congress, important for the President to be credible with foreign nations and, yes, I think it's something that people need to consider. This isn't something new: I read a report or a memo from somebody in the 1988 campaign- I forgot the fellow's name- warning then-Senator Gore to be careful about exaggerating claims. I felt- during his debate with Senator Bradley- saying he authored the EITC when it didn't happen… the Earned Income Tax Credit… a lot of initials for a guy who's not from Washington, isn't it? Anyway… he co-sponsored McCain-Feingold and yet he didn't- and so, I think this is an issue: I found it to be an issue in trying to defend my tax relief package- I thought there was some exaggerations about the numbers. But the People are going to have to make up their mind on this issue- and… I am going to continue to defend my record and defend my propositions against what I think are exaggerations: exaggerations like- for example- only 5 percent of seniors receive benefits under my Medicare reform package- that's what he said the other day- and that's simply not the case! I have every right in the world to defend my record and my positions: that's what debates are about and that’s what campaigns are about.
Vice President Gore responded: I got some of the details wrong last week- in the examples that I used- and I'm sorry about that and I'm going to try to do better. One of the reasons I regret it is getting a detail wrong interfered several times with the point that I was trying to make. However many days that young girl in Florida stood in her classroom, however long, even if it was only one day doesn't change the fact that there are a lot of overcrowded classrooms in America and we need to do something about that There are seniors who pay more for their prescriptions than a lot of other people- more than their pets, sometimes: more sometimes than people in foreign countries- and we need to do something about that. Not with the measure that leaves the majority of them without any real basic help until the next president's term of four years is over- but right away and that means doing it under the Medicare program. I can't promise that I will never get another detail wrong; I can promise you that I will try not to- and hard. But I will promise you this with all the confidence in my heart and in the world, that I will do my best, if I'm elected President, I'll work my heart out to get the big things right for the American people.
Lehrer turned to the Texas Republican: Does that resolve the issue?
Bush replied: That’s going to be up to the People, isn’t it?
Lehrer asked the Governor: Does it resolve it for you?
The Texan responded: Depends on what he says in the future in the campaign.
Lehrer noted: Your folks are saying some awful things...
Chuckling a bit, Bush jumped in: I hope they're not awful things- we’re using the man’s own words.
Lehrer explained: What I mean is.. your calling him a "serial exaggerator".
The Governor mildly protested: I don't believe I’ve used those words.
Lehrer responded: No, but your campaign has.
Bush admitted, Maybe they have been.
Lehrer went on: Your campaign officials have. And your campaign officials, Mr. Vice President, are now calling the Governor a "bumbler".
Bush protested, though with a smile on his face: Wait a minute!
The Vice President jumped in: I don't use language like that and I don't think that we should.
Lehrer noted: It's in your commercials.
Gore replied: I understand to laughter from the audience. The Vice President went on: I haven’t seen that- in my commercials? while the Governor asked with an air of mock incredulity: It’s in the commercial?
The Democrat tried his best to extricate himself from what was surely a rather awkward position: I think the point of that is that anybody would have a hard time trying to make a tax cut plan that’s so large that would put us into such big deficits that gives almost half the benefits to the wealthiest of the wealthy. I think anybody would have a hard time explaining that clearly in a way that makes sense to the average person.
To even more laughter from the audience, Bush jumped in: That's the kind of exaggeration I was just talking about.
But the Vice President had the last word: Well, I wasn't the one having trouble explaining it.
[As with the first Presidential Debate and the Vice Presidential Debate the previous week, I do not consider Closing Statements to be part of the Debate proper and, therefore, this "Final Round" will- as in all previous Debates- determine the final score.]
Round Eleven (Final "Round"): There was, obviously, going to be no way for Vice President Gore to win this "Round" with a question such as that which was posed by the moderator; he managed not to suffer too much of a loss here by being just contrite enough. Neither man was well served at the end- despite the somewhat humorous give-and-take produced- by having to deal with some of the more pejorative aspects of their respective campaign literature and campaign advertising. Scoring: Bush 10, Gore 9.
FINAL SCORE: Vice President Al Gore (Democrat) 101;
Governor George W. Bush (Republican) 99
In the end, as in the previous two Debates the week before, the Democratic
candidate beat out the Republican by only 2 points- showing how indecisive these
Debates really have been so far. If I were those in the Bush/Cheney
campaign (assuming they feel these Debates are all that important to their
chances in the upcoming Election), I would be concerned at some of what their
candidate exhibited during "Round"s Six, Seven and Nine- if these three issues
(Racial Profiling, Same Sex Unions, Texas' Failings Under Governor Bush) come up
in the next- "Town Hall" style- Debate and are handled much like they were
handled in this one, Bush could be in serious trouble. The Gore/Lieberman camp,
meanwhile, surely has to have similar misgivings about the subject matter of the
rounds Gore lost badly (Eight- on Gun Control- and Ten- on the Environment)-
especially Round Ten which was on an issue that would normally have been the
Vice President's forte. And both men will have to tread very carefully should
the subject of this night's Round Eleven (Negative Campaigning) emerge. One more
interesting thing of which to make mention here: the worst Rounds for either
candidate in this second Debate between them were all during the second
half of this evening's 90-minute Debate, suggesting a possible "fatigue factor"
which could yet come into play in the next "Town Hall"-style Debate come
Tuesday evening 17 October.