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Special Event

George W. Bush Answers Questions in Duluth, Georgia

Aired March 1, 2000 - 10:58 a.m. ET


DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, CNN wants to take you for more live coverage as George W. Bush is answering some questions. We brought you live coverage this morning from kind of a town hall meeting in Duluth, Georgia, and he is there answering questions right now.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know what the question was.


You must think I'm getting old or something. And the answer was, I will -- I try not to take things personally in politics, and I'll of course assess things once the campaign's ended. But calling somebody an anti-Catholic bigot is beyond the reach, and I -- I don't accept that kind of campaigning, and I'm not going to tolerate that kind of campaigning. I'm going to continue to remind people that there's no place for that in American politics.

Yes, Jerry (ph).

QUESTION: You're running a campaign that's talked a lot integrity and bringing honor back to the White House. Are you say that John McCain is a liar for what he says about not making the calls, and does that disqualify him for (OFF-MIKE)?

BUSH: I'm just saying he does one thing and does another. I call it doing one thing and doing another. I think -- I call it Washington-style politics. I said it's not the Straight Talk Express, it's the Parse Talk Express.

Yes, yes, Carl (ph). And then you, Dean (ph).


BUSH: What's the matter with you.

QUESTION: I'm losing my voice.

BUSH: It's going to be hard to do your job if you're losing your voice.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) personal question, not so much political (OFF-MIKE) because (OFF-MIKE). If somebody calling you an anti- Catholic bigot, you have a couple of teenage daughters, (OFF-MIKE) nation knows your mind. How does it make you feel to hear people saying that stuff about you?

BUSH: I don't like it. I don't liked to be called an anti- Catholic bigot. I don't like people ascribing beliefs to me that just aren't true. I've got a record of being inclusive in the state of Texas. People know my record, people know my heart. And John ought to be ashamed of running that kind of campaign. It's going to backfire on him. The people of Washington state got some of those calls, and the people of Washington state, not only Republicans voted overwhelmingly, but I won the overall election, which is indicative of what I think's going to happen in -- out on the West Coast on March the 7th in a state like California.

But I don't like it. I've explained to my daughters what politics is like, tired old politics. I've explained to them that this is -- unfortunately, sometimes people stoop to this level of campaigning, and I think they understand. They know their dad's heart.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: You won yesterday, but Senator McCain does continue to run up some pretty impressive figures among the Democrats and Independents. What are you going to do to move those types of voters?

BUSH: Well, he didn't run up many delegates in the commonwealth of Virginia.

QUESTION: Not delegates.

BUSH: Right, but, I mean, this is -- we're now on a delegate search and I intend to -- mom, how are you doing? I intend to -- is that your mother or mine? I intend to consolidate the party, consolidate the base and reach out to Independents and Democrats. That's what I did in the state of Texas.

I was amazed after Michigan when Senator McCain said, I'm now going to reach out to Republicans. We're in a Republican primary, and so step one is to earn the nomination with a vision and a plan that speaks about making sure every child is educated, a pro-growth economic agenda, which includes tax relief, an agenda to strengthen the military to keep the peace. That's why I'm going to win. Ideas are what wins elections, and I'm winning the debate on ideas.

I -- when I'm the nominee, I will then begin to reach out for Independents and Democrats who, heretofore, have not participated in our primaries. We've got good news for our Republican and conservative cause, is that the turnouts are large; they're significant. In the state of Washington yesterday, for those who decided to participate, I think John and I totaled something like 60 percent of the vote between us. That is incredibly good news. That gives us a great opportunity to win in the general election.

But in order to win, it's important to have a candidate who's got the capacity to bring people together, to consolidate, not a candidate who has divided people up. And that's really the difference right now as to where we've headed in this primary. I'm going to continue to unite our base. I'm going to continue to bring people together.

I thought it was very interesting yesterday that Gary Bauer, who's chosen not to support me, mentioned, though -- he said you shouldn't compare Louis Farrakhan and Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, which his candidate has chosen to do. Louis Farrakhan preaches hate. Louis Farrakhan is a hateful person that -- who has preached an antisemitic message, which is ugly. And as Gary said, he felt it was a reach for John to make that kind of -- but that's the kind of campaign he's chosen to run, and all of us ought to reject the politics of Louis Farrakhan and what he says.

Yes, Dean.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) education, building up the military and tax relief. Those are the special attractions for Democrats and Independents?

BUSH: Oh, of course. I mean, same with Medicare and Social Security. This is an administration that hasn't worked to solve those issues. This is an administration that's used those issues as political issues. Americans want somebody, from all political parties, except for the most partisan of Democrats, to come in and heal the nation and to lift the spirit and to -- people want -- from both political parties want our children educated. People want somebody to have a plan that says no child will be left behind. That's how I got 50 percent of the Hispanic vote and nearly 50 percent of the Hispanic vote in the state of Texas.


QUESTION: Governor, you talk about the results in Washington State and polls in California indicating you might have good things happen for you out there. Do you see anything in New York and the Northeast to indicate good things happening for you up there?

BUSH: Well, I hope to do well in Maine.



BUSH: Not bad. What do I say?


BUSH: Oh, ask the pollsters. What I'm going to say when I go up into that part of the world is I'm going to say give me a chance because I've got an education agenda that says no child will be left behind. I've got a plan that says, if there's mediocrity in the schools, if our children are trapped in failure, there will be other options available for parents. I'm going to talk about economic growth. I believe people up East care about tax relief as well as anybody else cares about tax relief. I'm going to continue saying the same thing that I said in -- out in Washington State that I'm going to say in New England. And, again, I don't spend a lot of time analyzing polls, so go call the pollsters.


QUESTION: What about New York?

BUSH: I plan on winning New York. I plan on winning every state I compete in. But he asked me about -- to analyze polls, and I would refer you to pollsters.


BUSH: No. I could try. I'll destroy your beautiful language.


QUESTION: How important -- how do you say that it's important that...



I can answer that.


And I've done a good job in Texas. And the reason why is...


All of them need to learn.


I'm saying, if he can read English and -- they have a much better chance to access the American dream, the dream that their parents have for them.

QUESTION: Are you going to pay more attention to education?

BUSH: I'm going to pay a lot of attention to education.


... that own their own small business. I've got a small business agenda that speak to the entrepreneurial spirit. One of the great success of America is the number of small business owner who happen to be Hispanic in America. One of the great stories is that when people have a dream and they work hard, they can own their own business. And what, in America, the president must do is make sure you get an environment that encourages entrepreneurship. QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BUSH: I believe in private -- I can understand if a relative chooses another relative to adopt their child. I said that, in the public arena, that we ought to work to find children of husbands and wives in the public arena.

QUESTION: But are you opposed to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BUSH: Not necessarily opposed to a single person. But the first choice and the priority ought to be for husbands and wives to adopt.


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Louis Farrakhan has a hateful vision. Would that make it difficult if you're president to work with his organization, the Nation of Islam, if they come up with faith-based programs like...?

BUSH: Yes, I was asked a question the other day -- that very question, John, and my answer addressed the Muslim faith in general. I wasn't speaking specifically to the Nation of Islam. I can see why somebody watching the show would have thought I was addressing the Nation of Islam. I don't see how -- and so in terms of just the Muslim religion, you hear me talk all the time about churches, synagogues and mosques and people of faith who've heard the universal call. That's where my answer was headed. Not headed, that's where my answer was.

But I think it's awfully hard to envision a program sponsored by hate, hateful groups, groups that want to pit one -- being able to achieve that which we want in society. I don't see how we can allow public dollars to fund programs with spite and hate -- is the core of the message. I appreciate you giving me a chance to straighten that misperception out. And I've been asked about Louis Farrakhan in the past, and I share the same sentiment.


QUESTION: You, in the past -- in the summer -- last summer and early on, you were -- it seemed like you were making an effort to show that you weren't the captive of any wing of your party when you came out and said you wouldn't employ the litmus test on judicial nominees and that sort of thing. I know that you think that Senator McCain's speech was wrong-headed on Monday, but do you think there's a risk that you, if you're the Republican nominee, could be perceived to be the captive of the social conservative wing of your party? And is there a problem in general with the party being perceived that way.

BUSH: No, when I'm the nominee, I'm going to set the tone for the party. That's what a leader does. That's what I did in my state of Texas; that's what I intend to do in the nation. I'm going to say that our party embraces a compassionate conservatism which focuses on every child when it comes to education, an understanding of the need to rally faith-based programs and welcome people of faith and good will to the compassionate delivery of help for people who need help. I'm going to speak loud and clear about reforming the military. My message will not change from where I stand today.

What this party needs is somebody who can bring us together, somebody who views the leadership position as one in which to lay out an agenda that all people can hear and rally people toward that agenda. It's important to set a tone and to lead, and that's exactly what I'm do, Jay (ph). I've had a good record of doing that in Texas, and that's the kind of president I'm going to be. I'm confident I can unite our base. I'm confident that I can excite our base, and that's what the results of these elections have shown. Our turnouts have been big and strong because people are excited. I'm confident I can bring new -- young voters to the Republican Party. We've got new voters coming in to our primary, and I'm getting their support. Yesterday in Virginia, I can't -- I don't know the final statistics, but I ran really well amongst women, which is good for a Republican candidate to be able to do.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) committed to any television in advertising in Georgia. Are you feeling so confident about Georgia and most of the south that you're putting your resources...

BUSH: I'm not going to lay out our agenda, our plan, but I don't feel confident about any place until the people have actually voted. That's why I'm here campaigning in this important primary state. This is not -- as you know, I've been here before, I've got a good base of support, I've got a lot of grassroots supporters, we're working hard to turn out the vote, and -- we're not -- I'm not going to play our hand as to what our strategy is going to be coming down the stretch here on March the -- until -- to the March the 7th primary.

Dosay (ph)?

QUESTION; Governor, when a six-year-old gets a hold of a gun and kills another six-year-old, is it enough to say where are the parents, because you know in today's society sometimes the parents are aren't there. In that case, should that be the case here or should that be the case, what do you do when the parents aren't there?

BUSH: Well, first of all, it's an American tragedy. My heart goes out to the -- to the moms and dads of that little child. I don't know all the circumstances, I'd like to know more about the case, but the parents need to be there. I don't -- what do you mean when the parents aren't there? If the child is six years old, there's got to be an adult in the house somewhere at some point in time. The fundamental question is, how did this child get a hold of a gun and why, and that -- and people need to be held accountable for that.


BUSH: Yes, including the parents, yes.

QUESTION: How would you hold them accountable, that's what I was wondering? You talked about accountability (OFF-MIKE).

BUSH: Well, we've got a law in Texas that I signed that says there is an accountability for people who don't treat gun safely around minors.

Yes, R.J. (ph).

QUESTION: Governor, (OFF-MIKE) structure to be obligated to uphold Roe v. Wade set any precedent for (OFF-MIKE) as a constitutional threat (OFF-MIKE)?

BUSH: I have spoken out as to my view that the judges on -- are -- on Roe v. Wade, and legal scholars on both sides of the issue have described the decision as the courts legislating from the bench. They've described this as a judicial reach undermining what should have been left to the legislatures to decide.


BUSH: A strict constructionist judge is one who strictly interprets the Constitution -- Yes.


BUSH: Yes, I'm listening. I'm smiling at Carl (ph) but listening.

QUESTION: I've got a question on the (OFF-MIKE) saying (OFF- MIKE)...

BUSH: Political (OFF-MIKE), that's good.

QUESTION: The reason...

BUSH: Don't tell me we're actually going to talk about an issue. That would be good.


BUSH: I'm sorry, Dosay, OK, fine. Don't take offense.

QUESTION: Recently, the Chinese government released (OFF-MIKE) paper that they wouldn't hesitate to use the military forces to assault the Taiwan program. So what will be your, you know, strategy to solve the, you know, friction between China and Taiwan.

BUSH: As the leader of the most powerful nation of the world, it's important to explain to both governments that we expect there to be a peaceful resolution, that the United States supports the one China policy. It says there will be a peaceful resolution of any disputes between Taiwan and China. And if there's not, the United States will help Taiwan defend itself. That message needs to be delivered loud and clear.

Yes, Terry (ph).

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) I have one. The fact that the...

BUSH: I'm just -- just a tease. I want to see who was -- who has thinnest skinned this morning and who wasn't. QUESTION: I know. We're not sensitive here in the press.


Would you support -- would you support.

QUESTION: Speak for your self.

QUESTION: Will you support trigger locks, trigger-lock legislation?

BUSH: Here's the -- what does that mean to support trigger-lock legislation? Explain to me what the legislation says.


BUSH: I have no problem with selling trigger locks with guns. I think it's great. The only question I ask is, how do you enforce it, how do you make sure parents keep the trigger lock on the gun? Hopefully what will happen is technologies will develop where guns can't be used unless -- unless they match a certain hand print of the owner. Hopefully technology gun will be more -- the technology will allow us to develop a safe gun, a gun that cannot be accessed unless there's some finger imaging that matches the owner to the -- to the finger print on the -- to the -- to the chip inside the gun, in other words that that technology will make guns more safe. I hope people use trigger locks. I hope people, you know, use gun safety. My issue with trigger locks is, are we going to have the trigger-lock police knocking on people's door: Show me your trigger lock, please. And how do we make sure people access? And that is to remind people that they need to be responsible as adults, they need to be safe if they own a gun, that there are certain requirements, certain expectations for adults when it comes to gun ownership.

Thank you very much. I'm looking forward to seeing you probably as much...


BUSH: No, I'll tell you what. Let's do it -- let's do it the other way around. Give me a few lines for Letterman.


QUESTION: That's a challenge.


BUSH: Good one?


BUSH: No, no, no more questions. I'm asking for Letterman suggestions.


QUESTION: You don't -- you don't want to hear Herman, trust me.



BUSH: This will be -- this will be your chance, seriously.

QUESTION: Skip it?


BUSH: That bad? This will be your chance and then you can say, hey, mom, I got on Letterman...

KELLEY: Give me a few lines for Letterman, George W. Bush saying there he does have an appearance with David Letterman that he's planning, and John McCain, Senator McCain, is going to be appearing on the Leno show, "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

So the governor in Georgia right now on the heels of winning all three contest, yesterday, in Virginia, Washington state and North Dakota. Happy about that, certainly. And he was answering a reporter mainly in Spanish, if you were with us earlier, to one question. Will that help in California, where there will be a large, important Hispanic vote come Super Tuesday? Could be. He said he got 50 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas. He is saying that he will set the tone for the party if he's the nominee, and he went over some of his policies and agendas and what he would hope to do.


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