After a bit of prodding, Bush and McCain reveal Web habits
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- After wrangling over questions about campaign finance, religion and foreign policy, a question about the Internet produced perhaps the most light-hearted moment between the candidates during the final minutes of Thursday night's Republican presidential debate.
"We're interested in knowing," CNN's Judy Woodruff asked, "how much each one of you uses the Internet. How much time do you spend on it?"
Sen. John McCain (via satellite), Gov. George W. Bush and Alan Keyes debated Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Unlike their Democratic counterparts, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Arizona Sen. McCain and former conservative talk show host Alan Keyes didn't seem to relish the question.
There was no talk of "info stamps," no bold claims of inventing the World Wide Web. Keyes gave only the briefest of answers before launching into a broadside against campaign finance reform.
"I use it quite a bit. My campaign has used it quite a bit," the former ambassador said after some additional urging.
Bush also wrapped the question around the issues of campaign finance reform, touting the fact that his campaign's Web site includes a list of all the Texas governor's contributors this election cycle. (64K wav file)
But after a bit of prodding, both he and McCain opened up about their personal Web habits, evoking laughter from each other and the audience.
The Texas governor said he used e-mail to keep in touch his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, from the campaign trail. "I e-mailed my mother the other day as a matter of fact," he said. "She told me to stand straight when I was at your debate." (116K wav file)
Bush admitted that the rigors of running for office didn't leave much leisure time for surfing the World Wide Web. "I'm familiar. I can click around and surf around," he said.
McCain responded that he doesn't utilize the Internet "not nearly as well as I should," despite the fact that his campaign has raised an unprecedented $7 million in contributions, according to his estimates. McCain has called for a permanent moratorium on federal taxes on Internet sales. (92K wav file)
He added that the Web has also helped his campaign to connect with younger voters and others who are normally turned off by politics.
As for his own Internet preferences?
"I use it when I want to find out what's on CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, or other communist periodicals," the Arizona senator joked. (172K wav file)