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Text Of Third Bush-Gore Debate (cont.)

GORE: If you make more than $60,000, up to a $100,000, you'll still get a match, but not as generous.

You will get access to lifelong learning and education, help with tuition, if you want to get a new skill or training. If you want to purchase health insurance, you will get help with that. If you want to participate in some of the dynamic changes that are going on in our country, you will get specific help in doing that.

If you are part of the bottom 20 percent or so of wage earners, then you will get an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit.

Now, the tax relief that I propose is directed specifically at middle income individuals and families. And if you have an elderly parent or grandparent, who needs long-term care, then you will get help with that, a $3,000 tax credit to help your expenses in taking care of a loved one who needs long-term care.

LEHRER: Governor Bush?

BUSH: Right, let me just say, the first this business about the entitlement he tried to describe about savings you know, matching savings here, and matching savings there if fully funded is going to cost a whole lot of money, a lot more than we have.

You're going to get tax relief under my plan. You're not going to be targeted in or targeted out. Everybody who pays taxes is going to get tax relief. If you take care of an elderly in your home, you're going to get the personal exemption increased.

I think also what you need to think about is not the immediate, but what about Medicare?

You get a plan that will include prescription drugs, a plan that will give you options.

Now, I hope people understand that Medicare today is, is, is, is important, but it doesn't keep up with the new medicines. If you're a Medicare person, on Medicare, you don't get the new, new procedures. You're stuck in a time warp in many ways.

So it will be a modern Medicare system that trusts you to make a variety of options for you.

You're going to live in a peaceful world. It will be a world of peace, because we're going to have a clearer, clear-sighted foreign policy, based upon a strong military, and a mission that stands by our friends, a mission that doesn't try to be all things to all people, a judicious use of the military which will help keep the peace.

You'll be in a world hopefully that's more educated so it's less likely you'll be harmed in your neighborhood. See, an educated child is one much more likely to be hopeful and optimistic.

You'll be in a world which fits into my philosophy, you know, the harder work, the harder you work, the more you can keep. It's the American way. Government shouldn't be a heavy hand. It's what the federal government does to you. It should be a helping hand. And tax relief and proposals I just described should be a good helping hand.

LEHRER: Governor, the next question is for you. And Leo Anderson (ph) will ask it.

Mr. Anderson (ph)?

BUSH: Hi, Leo (ph). Wht, you want a mike?

QUESTION: In one of the last debates held, the subject of capital punishment came up. And in your response to the question you seemed to overly enjoy, as a matter of fact proud that Texas leads the--led the nation in execution of prisoners.

Sir, did I misread your respond, and are you really, really proud of the fact that Texas is number one in executions?

BUSH: No, I'm not proud of that. The death penalty is very serious business, Leo. It's an issue that good people obviously disagree on. I take my job seriously, and I, if you think I was proud of it, I think you misread me, I do.

I was sworn to uphold the laws of my state. During the course of the campaign in 1994 I was asked: Do you support the death penalty? I said I did, if administered fairly and justly, because I believe it saves lives. Well, I do. I think if it's administered swiftly, justly and fairly, it saves lives.

One of the things that happens when you're a governor, oftentimes you have to make tough decisions, and you can't let public persuasion sway you, because the job's to enforce the law. And that's what I did, sir.

Have been some tough cases come across my desk. Some of the hardest moments since I've been the governor of the state of Texas is to deal with those cases.

But my job is to ask two questions, sir. Is the person guilty of the crime? And did the person have full access to the courts of law? And I can tell you, looking at you right now, in all cases those answers were affirmative.

I'm not proud of any record. I'm proud of the fact that violent crime is down in the state of Texas. I'm proud of the fact that we hold people accountable. But I'm not proud of any record, sir, no.

LEHRER: Vice President Gore?

GORE: I support the death penalty. I think that it has to be administered not only fairly, with attention to things like DNA evidence, which I think should be used in all capital cases, but also with very careful attention. If, for example, somebody confesses to the crime and somebody's waiting on death row, there has to be alertness to say, wait a minute, have we got the wrong guy?

If the wrong guy is put to death, then that's a double tragedy. Not only has an innocent person been executed but the real perpetrator of the crime has not been held accountable for it, and in some cases may be still at large. But I support the death penalty in the most heinous cases.

LEHRER: Do both of you believe that the death penalty actually deters crime?

Governor?

BUSH: I do, that's the only reason to be for it. Let me finish that, I don't think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. I don't think that's right. I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other people's lives.

LEHRER: Vice President Gore?

GORE: I think it is a deterrence. I know that's a controversial view, but I do believe it's a deterrence.

LHRER: All right.

Next question is for you, Vice President Gore, and Thomas Fisher (ph) will ask it.

Mr. Fisher (ph)?

QUESTION: Yes, my sixth grade class at St. Clair (ph) School wanted to ask of all these promises you guys are making and all the pledges, will you keep them when you're in office?

GORE: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

I am a person who keeps promises. And you know, we've heard a lot from the governor about not much being done in the last eight years, as if the promises that I made eight years ago have not been kept. I think the record shows otherwise.

We have gone from the biggest deficits, eight years ago, to the biggest surpluses in history today. Instead of high unemployment, we now have the lowest African-American unemployment, the lowest Latino unemployment ever measured, 22 million new jobs, very low unemployment nationally. Instead of ballooning the debt and multiplying it four times over, we have seen the debt actually begun to be paid down.

Here are some promises that I'll make to you now. I will balance the budget every year. I will pay down the debt every year. I will give middle class Americans tax cuts meaningful ones. And I will invest in education, health care, protecting the environment and retirement security.

We both made promises in this campaign. I promise you I will keep mine. Let me tell you about one of the governor's.

He has promised a trillion dollars out of the Social Security trust fund for young working adults to invest and save on their own. But he's promised seniors that their Social Security benefits will not be cut, and he's promised the same trillion dollars to them. So this is the “Show Me” state, reminds me the line from the movie, “Show me the money.” Which one of those promises will you keep and which will you break, Governor?

LEHRER: Governor Bush?

BUSH: Thank you for your question.

(LAUGHTER)

I, there's an old high school debating trick, which is to answer something and then attack your opponent at the end. Now, you asked about promises. You were promised that Medicare would be reformed, and that Social Security would be reformed. You were promised a middle class tax cut in 1992. It didn't happen.

There's too much bitterness in Washington. There's too much wrangling. It's time to have a fresh start. One of the reasons I was successful as the governor of Texas is because I didn't try to be all things to all people. When I campaigned in a race a lot of folks didn't think I could win, including, by the way, my mother...

... I said I'd do four things: tort reform, education reform, welfare reform and juvenile justice reform. And I won and I had the will of the people in my state behind me, and then I brought folks together to get it done. And that's what we need, I think, in this election.

To me, that's what it's all about. I know, listen, I'm sure your sixth gade kids are listening, “These guys will say anything to get elected.” But there's a record. That's what other people look at. And one of my promises is going to be Social Security reform, and you bet we need to take a trillion dollar trillion dollars out of that $2.4 trillion surplus.

Now, remember, Social Security revenue exceeds expenses up until 2015. People are going to get paid. But if you're a younger worker, if you're younger, you better hope this country thinks differently, otherwise you're going to be faced with huge payroll taxes or reduced benefits. And you bet we're going to take a trillion dollars of your own money and let you invest it under safe guidelines to get a better rate of return on the money than the paltry 2 percent that the federal government gets for you today. That's one of my promises.

But it's going to require people to bring both Republicans and Democrats together to get it done. That's what it requires. There's a chance to get this done. There's bipartisan, bipartisan approach, but it's been rejected. I'm going to bring them together.

LEHRER: Both of you, to both of you, on this subject, there are other questions that also go to this skepticism, not necessarily about you but all people in politics. Why is that?

GORE: Well, first of all, Jim, I'd like to, I'd like to respond to what the governor just said because the trillion dollars that has been promised the young people has also been promised to older people. And you cannot keep both promises. If you're in your mid-40s, under the governor's plan, Social Security will be bankrupt by the time you retire, if he takes it out of the Social Security trust fund.

Under my plan, it will be, its solvency will be extended until you're 100.

Now, that is the difference. And the governor may not want to answer that question, he may want to call it a high school debating trick, but let me tell you this: This election is not about debating tricks; it is about your future.

The reason Social Security, he says it gets 2 percent. You know, it's not a bank account it that just pays back money that's invested. It is also used to give your mothers and fathers the Social Security checks that they live on. If you take a trillion dollars out of that Social Security trust fund, how are the checks going to, how are you going to keep faith with the seniors?

Now, let me come, let me come directly to your point...

LEHRER: No, I think we're, we have to go to the closing statements and...

BUSH: Could I answer that? One reason people are skeptical is because people don't answer the questions they've been asked.

(LAUGHTER)

The trillion dollars comes out of the surplus so that you can invest some of your own money. There's just a difference of opinion. I want workers to have their own assets. Who do you trust, the government or the people?

LEHRER: Now we're going to go to a closing statemnt.

GORE: Great.

LEHRER: Vice President Gore, you're first.

GORE: Thank you.

LEHRER: You have two minutes.

GORE: Thank you very much, Jim. And I'll begin by answering your questions, your last question.

I believe that a lot of people are skeptical about people in politics today because we have seen a time of great challenge for our country, since the assassination of our best leaders in the '60s, since the Vietnam War, since Watergate, and because we need campaign finance reform.

I'd like to tell you something about me. I keep my word. I have kept the faith.

GORE: I've kept the faith with my country. I volunteered for the Army. I served in Vietnam.

I kept the faith with my family. Tipper and I have been married for 30 years. We have devoted ourselves to our children, and now our nearly one-and-a-half-year-old grandson.

I have kept the faith with our country. Nine times I have raised my hand to take an oath to the Constitution, and I have never violated that oath.

I have not spent the last quarter century in pursuit of personal wealth. I have spent the last quarter century fighting for middle-class, working men and women in the United States of America.

I believe very deeply that you have to be willing to stand up and fight, no matter what powerful forces might be on the other side. If you want somebody who is willing to fight for you, I am asking for your support and your vote, and, yes, your confidence, and your willingness to believe that we can do the right thing in America and be the better for it.

We've made some progress during the last eight years. We have seen the strongest economy in the history of the United States, lower crime rates for eight years in a row, highest private home ownership ever.

But I'll make you one promise here: You ain't seen nothing yet. And I will keep that promise.

LEHRER: Governor Bush, two minutes.

BUSH: Well, Jim, I want to thank you and thank the folks here at Washington University and the vice president. Appreciate the chance to have a good, honest dialogue about our differences of opinion. And I think after the three debates, the good people of this country understand there is a difference of opinion.

It's the difference between big federal government and somebody who's coming from outside of Washington who will trust individuals.

I've got an agenda that I want to get done for the country. It's an agenda that says we're going to reform Medicare to make sure seniors have got prescription drugs and to give seniors different options from which they can choose.

It's an agenda that says we're going to listen to the young voices in Social Security and say we're going to think differently about making sure we have a system, but also fulfill the promise to the seniors in America. A promise made will be a promise kept should I be fortunate enough to become your president.

I want to ebuild the military to keep the peace.

I want to make sure the public school system in America fulfills its promise so that no child, not one child, is left behind.

And after setting priorities, I want to give some of the, some of your money back. See, I don't think the surplus is the government's money, I think it's the people's money. I don't think the surplus exists because of the ingenuity and hard work of the federal government. I think it exists because of the ingenuity and hard work of the American people. And you ought to have some of the surplus so you can save and dream and build.

I look forward to the final weeks of this campaign. I'm asking for your vote. For those of you for me, thanks for your help. For those of you for my opponent, please only vote once.

But for those who have not made up their mind, I'd like to conclude by this promise. Should I be fortunate enough to become your president, when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of the land, but I will also swear to uphold the honor and the dignity the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

Thank you very much.

LEHRER: A closing piece of business before we go.

LEHRER: The debate commission wants reaction to the three kinds of formats used in the debates this year, and you may register an opinion at their web site, www.debates.org.

Thank you, Vice President Gore, Governor Bush.

From St. Louis, I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.

END

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