Bush - Gore Debate Transcript (continued)

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BUSH: We come together, both Republicans and Democrats.

LEHRER: Let me put that directly to, to you, Vice President Gore. The reason you brought this up is that 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?

GORE: Yes. Yes. But it's not a statement about his heart. I don't claim to know his heart. I think I think he's a good person. I make no allegations about that. I believe him when he says that, that he has a good heart. I know enough about your story to, 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, Jim, 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, it's, as far as I know, it's a, it's a question of priorities and values.

See, you know...

LEHRER: Let me just ask, let me ask...

BUSH: First of all, that's simply not true, what he just said, of course. And secondly, I repeat...

LEHRER: What's not true, Governor?

BUSH: That we spent, the top 1 percent receive $223 as opposed to $445 billion in new spending. The top let's talk about my tax plan. The top 1 percent pay, will pay one-third of all the federal income taxes, and in return get one-fifth of the benefits because 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 example, for a minute. We pay $4.7 billion I can't emphasize tell you how much. I signed a bill that puts CHIPs in place. The bill finally came out at the end of the '99 session. We're working hard to sign up children. We're doing it faster than any other, than any other state our size, comparable state. We're making really good progress.

And our state cares a lot aout 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.

And 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 who knows how to bring Republicans and Democrats together to get positive things done for America.

LEHRER: New question, new subject.

Vice President Gore, on the environment, in your 1992 book you said, quote, "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: 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's happening is the level of pollution is increasing, significantly.

Now, here is the good news, Jim. 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.

And 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 on to 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.

The 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'll tell you this, I will fight for a clean environment in ways that strengthen our economy.

LEHRER: Governor?

BUSH: Well, let me start with Texas. We are a big industrial state. We reduced our industrial waste by 11 percent. We cleaned up more brownfields than any other administration in my state's history, 450 f them. Our water is cleaner now.

LEHRER: Explain what a brownfield is, for those who don't know.

BUSH: A brownfield is an abandoned industrial site that just (sit) idly in some of our urban centers, and people who are willing to invest capital in the brownfields 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 taxing, 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 to 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 worth.

By the way, I just found out the other day, an interesting fact, that there's a national petroleum reserve right next to Prudhoe, in Prudhoe Bay that your administration opened up for exploration in that pristine area, and it was a smart move because there's gas reserves up there.

BUSH: We need gas pipelines to bring the gas down. Gas is a clean fuel that we can burn to, we need to make sure that if we decontrol our plants that there's mandatory, that plants must conform to clean air standards, to grandfather plants. That's what we did in Texas, no excuses. I mean, you must conform.

Now, those are practical things we can do, but it starts with working a collaborative effort with states and local folks. You know, if your own the land, everyday 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: Where do you see the basic difference, in very simple terms and two or three sentences, between you and the governor on the environment? If the voter wants to make a choice, what is it?

GORE: I'm really strongly committed to clean water and clean air and cleaning up the new kinds of challenges like global warming. I, he's 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, I don't think you can get results that way. We differ on the kinds of appointments that we would make.

LEHRER: But you say it's a fundamental difference.

GORE: I think it's a fundamental difference and let me give you and example. He...

LEHRER: Hold on one second.

GORE: OK. Sure.

LEHRER: We've talked about I just want to know, could somebody, because we're running we're gtting close to the end of our time here. I was wondering, does somebody want to make, wanted to vote on the environment, how would you draw the differences, Governor?

BUSH: Well, I don't believe in command and control out of Washington, D.C. I believe Washington ought to set standards, but I don't, you know, 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 I, by the way, I just want to make sure we I can't let him just say something and not correct it.

LEHRER: All right.

BUSH: The electric decontrol bill that I fought for and signed in Texas has mandatory emissions standards, Mr. Vice President. And that's what we ought to do at the federal level when it comes to grandfathered plants for utilities.

LEHRER: Do you...

BUSH: I think there's a difference. I think, I think, for example, take the when they took 40 million acres of land out of circulation without consulting local officials, I thought that was...

LEHRER: That's out in the West.

BUSH: Out in the West. You know, on the logging issue, I didn't

it'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 the governors and elected officials before I would have acted unilaterally.

LEHRER: Well, do you believe the federal government still has some new rules and new regulations and new laws to pass in the environmental area? Or do you think...

BUSH: Sure. Absolutely, so long as they're based upon science and they're reasonable, so long as people have input.

LEHRER: What about global warming?

BUSH: 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 got all the facts before we make decisions.

I tell you one thing I'm not going to, is 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: Global, global warming, the Senate did turn it down.

GORE: I think that...

BUSH: Ninety-nine to nothing.

GORE: Well, that vote was exactly...

BUSH: It's a resolution.

GORE: A lot of supporters of the Kyoto treaty actually ended up voting for that, because of 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 within industry, but also with the citizens 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, cabon dioxide, and other chemicals that are even more potent but in smaller quantities, that cause this.

Look, the world's temperature's going up. Weather patterns are changing. Storms are getting more violent and unpredictable. And 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 is written 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: Yes, I agree. I just I think there's been some some of the scientists, I believe, Mr. Vice President, haven't they been changing their opinion a little bit on global warming? A profound scientist recently made an made a...

LEHRER: Both of you both of you now have violated...

GORE: But the point is...

LEHRER: Excuse me. Both of you have now violated your own rules.

Hold that thought.

GORE: I've been trying so hard not to.

LEHRER: I know. I know. But about you're not under your rules, you are not allowed to ask each other a question. I let you do it a moment ago. And now you just...

BUSH: Twice.

LEHRER: Twice, sorry. OK.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: One I thought I...

GORE: That's an interruption, by the way.

LEHRER: That's an interruption. OK.

But anyhow, you just did it. So now we're...

BUSH: I'm sorry.

LEHRER: That's all right. It's OK.

BUSH: I apologize, Mr. Vice President. But...

LEHRER: And you're not allowed to do that either.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm sorry. Go ahead, finish your thought.

BUSH: I...

LEHRER: People care about these things, I've found out.

BUSH: Of course, they care about it. Oh, you mean the rules.

LEHRER: Right, exactly right.

(LAUGHTER)

LEHRER: Go ahead.

BUSH: I of course there's a lot of I mean, look, global warming needs to be taken very seriously, and I take it seriously. But science, there's a lot of, there's differing opinions. And before we react, I think it's best to have the full accounting, full understanding of what is 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 mean, I just cited an example of the, of the administration just unilaterally acting without any input.

And I remember you gave a very good answer in 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 placout West however.

LEHRER: New question.

BUSH: Yes.

LEHRER: Last question for you, Governor. This flows out some, 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, et cetera. Are you, 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 7?

BUSH: Well, we all make mistakes. I've been known to mangle a syl-lable or two myself, you know. But...

(LAUGHTER)

If you know what I mean.

I think credibility's important. It's going to important to be 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 his 1988 campaign, I forgot the fellow's name, warning then-Senator Gore to be careful about exaggerating claims. And I thought during his debate with Senator Bradley, saying he authored the EITC when it didn't happened, he mentioned in the last...

LEHRER: EITC?

BUSH: Earned income tax credit. Sorry.

LEHRER: That's all right.

BUSH: A lot of initials for a guy who's not from Washington, isn't it?

Anyway, I--he cosponsored McCain-Feingold, and yet he didn't.

And so I think this is an issue. I think--I found it to be an issue in trying to defend my tax relief package, I thought there were some exaggerations about the numbers.

But the people are going to have to make up their mind on this issue.

And I--I'm 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.

LEHRER: Vice President Gore?

GORE: I got some of the details wrong last week in some of the examples that I used, Jim. And I'm sorry about that. And I'm going to try to do better. One of the reasons I regret is that it getting a detail wrong interfered several times with a 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 a measure that leaves the majority of them without ny real basic health 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 anymore.

But I will promise you this, with all the confidence in 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: Does that resolve the issue, Governor?

BUSH: That's going to be up to the people, isn't it?

LEHRER: Does it resolve it for you?

BUSH: It depends on what he says in the future in the campaign.

LEHRER: But, I mean, your folks are saying some awful things.

BUSH: I hope they're not awful things.

LEHRER: Well, I mean...

BUSH: ... his own words.

LEHRER: No, no, what I mean is, you calling him a serial exaggerator.

BUSH: I don't believe I've used those words.

LEHRER: No, but your campaign has.

BUSH: Maybe they have.

LEHRER: Your campaign officials have.

And your campaign officials, Mr. Vice President, are now calling, now calling the governor a bungler, a...

BUSH: Wait a minute.

(LAUGHTER)

LEHRER: I mean is that, no, my point is, should this, is this...

GORE: I don't use language like that. And I don't think that we should.

LEHRER: It's in your commercial...

GORE: I understand.

(CROSSTALK)

GORE: In my commercial?

BUSH: Have you seen the commercial?

LEHRER: In your...

GORE: I think I think that what 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.

BUSH: That's the kind of exaggeration I was just talking about.

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Well, I wasn't the one having trouble explaining.

LEHRER: Gentlemen, it's time to go to the closing statements.

And Vice President Gore, you have two minutes.

GORE: Jim, one of the issues that I would like to close with in my statement is education, because it's an example of the overall approach that I think is important. This race is about values, it's about change, it's about giving choices to the American people. And education is my number one priority because I think that it's the most important big, major change that we can bring in our country.

I agree with Governor Bush that we should have new accountability. Testing of students, I think that we should require states to test all students, test schools and school districts. And I think that we should go further and require teacher testing for new teachers, also.

The difference is, whle my plan starts with new accountability and maintains local control, it doesn't stop there, because I want to give new choices to parents to send their kids to college with a $10,000 tax deduction for college tuition per child, per year. I want to reduce the size of the classrooms in this country for one basic reason, so that students can get more one-on-one time with teachers.

And the way to do that is, first, to recruit more teachers. I have a plan in my budget to recruit 100,000 new, highly qualified teachers, and to help local school districts build new schools.

I think that we have to put more emphasis on early learning and preschool.

Now, here is how that connects with all the rest of what we've been talking about. If you have, if you squander the surplus on a huge tax cut that goes mostly to those at the top, then you can't make education the top priority. If the tax cut is your number one, two, three and four priority, you can't do education. You can't do both. You have to choose.

I choose education and health care, the environment and retirement security. And I ask for your support.

LEHRER: Governor Bush, two minutes.

BUSH: Jim, thank you very much.

Mr. Vice President, thank you very much.

And I'd like to thank the folks here at Wake Forest. I want to thank you all for listening.

I'm running to get some things done for America. There's too many issues left unresolved. There's been too much finger-pointing and too much name-calling in Washington, D.C. I'd like to unite this country to get an agenda done that will speak to the hopes and aspirations of the future.

I want to have an education system that sets high standards, local control of schools and strong accountability. No child should be left behind in America.

I want to make sure we rebuild our military to keep the peace. I worry about morale in today's military. The warning signs are clear. It's time to have a new commander in chief who will rebuild the military, to pay our men and women more, and make sure they're housed better, and have a focused mission for our military.

Once and for all, I want to do something about Medicare. The issue's been too long on the table because it's been a political issue. It's time to bring folks together, to say that all seniors will get prescription drug coverage.

I want to do something about Social Security. It's an important priority because now is the time to act.

And we're going to say to our seniors: Our promises we've made to you will be promises kept.

But younger workers, in order to make sure the system exists tomorrow, younger workers ought to be able to take some of your own money and invest it in safe securities to get a better rate of return on that money.

And finally, I do believe in tax relief. I believe we can set our priorities. I don't believe like the vice president does in huge government. I believe in limited governent. And by having a limited government and a focused government, we can send some of the money back to the people who pay the bills. I want to have a tax relief for all people who pay the bills in America because I think you can spend your money more wisely than the federal government can.

Thank you for listening. I'm asking for your vote. And God bless.

LEHRER: And we will return next Tuesday night, October 17, from Washington University at St. Louis for the third and final debate.

Thank you Vice President Gore, Governor Bush. See you next week.

For now, from Winston-Salem, I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.

END

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