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Gov. George W. Bush Holds News Conference in L.A., Remarks on Texas Death PenaltyAired June 21, 2000 - 12:20 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you to George W. Bush, a Republican candidate for president. He's in Los Angeles and taking questions, some of them touching on the controversy surrounding the death penalty that's been dogging him of late. Let's listen.
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GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... politics is a place that really should lift everybody's spirit. It's a wonderful, wonderful center of love and compassion that's making a difference in people's lives.
I -- a couple of points I want to make. One, I'm coming back right after the 4th of July, I think July 5, to California. Looking forward to that trip as well. I'm going to continue coming to this state. I believe I've got a good chance of carrying it, and we're making good progress.
And, secondly, I understand the vice president's going to attack my Social Security position today in a speech. I've been told that. If that's the case, I hope -- I look forward to hearing what he has to say. This is a person that said the Social Security system isn't broke. I happen to think it is. Whether you're 20, 37, there's not going to be enough payers into the system to support the retired baby boomers. And If nothing is done, nothing -- no reform is in place, we either have to raise taxes or reduce benefits.
I laid out a plan that has the framework for constructive change that will allow younger workers to manager some of their money in the private sector so as to take advantage of the compounding rate of interest, and that's really important to make sure the system survives. I look forward to the debate on Social Security. I'm strong in my position because it's the right way to go, in my judgment.
I'd be glad to answer any questions.
QUESTION: Governor, I wanted to ask you about Texas inmate Gary Graham. There's a new Texas poll that's coming out today that shows that while more than 70 percent of Texans continue to support the death penalty, more than half believe that Texas has executed innocent people. How much of a problem is that perception to you, and what do you think -- if you do believe it's a problem, what would you do about it to reform the system?
BUSH: I analyze each case when it comes across my desktop. I look at the innocence and guilt of each person and whether or not the person has had full access to the courts. And as far as I'm concerned, there has not been one innocent person executed since I've been the governor.
QUESTION: But so much of the criminal justice system depends on perceptions and the legitimacy of how the process is pursued. Do you not think that if more than half the people think there's -- there are mistakes being made in life and death cases that...
BUSH: The only thing I can tell you is I've analyzed each case that's come across my desk. That's my job, is to uphold the laws of the land, of the state of Texas. I will continue to do so so long as I'm the governor.
BUSH: No, I haven't.
QUESTION: Why not?
BUSH: Well, we thought about it, but we don't need a moratorium. I'm going to continue to uphold the laws of the land. I believe the system is fair and just.
QUESTION: Despite the fact that you've been here about a dozen times or so since July, there's a field poll that was out yesterday that said -- has you down by about 11 points. Can you talk a little bit about what you feel the challenge -- special challenges that you're facing in this...?
BUSH: Well, there's one field poll out yesterday, you're right. There's, as I understand, a couple of more that show the race virtually tied. And I've got a lot of challenges in the state of California. One, I've got to change the perception that our party is anti-education, lay out a -- started talking about education reform here in California and I'm going to continue to do so.
SESNO: Governor George W. Bush, Republican presidential candidate, taking a question on the death penalty there with a pending execution tomorrow, scheduled for tomorrow, for Gary Graham, which death penalty opponents say is based upon a faulty trial, that got Gary Graham to this point. The governor saying that as far as he's concerned, execution up to this point have not executed any innocent individuals. He's reviewed the cases one at a time. He also rejected the notion that he should opt onto a moratorium of death penalties as the governor of Illinois, also a Republican, has embraced.
One other point the governor making there: There's a field poll showing him down 11 points in California. He says he's fighting on, plans to come back to the state, going to contest it. Certainly that is to make his own point and to draw Al Gore's resources, if nothing else.
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