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Political Science Students Weigh Debate's Impact

Aired October 4, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Not everybody who's talking politics today is talking to the pollsters. Folks at Marquette University in Milwaukee are talking to our very own Jeff Flock. Jeff is at Marquette University.

Jeff, what's happening there?

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Trying out my new profession, Lou -- perhaps just testing this out for size.

At the head of the class here in Marquette, we've got a class of political science students who watched very closely the debate last night.

First of all, why are we in Wisconsin? Well, we're here because it's a very important swing state. Let's take a look at that: kind of in the middle -- Republican and Democrat. It's got a Republican governor; Democratic senators; the U.S. House delegation is evenly split, five to four, Democrats and Republicans; and the state legislature is split.

And so is the room that I stand in right now. Pretty evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. So when I ask a question like, who won the debate and I ask a Republican, like Michelle (ph), first, what's the answer?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to say that Bush won.

FLOCK: You'd like to say that. Did he?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that the way he presented himself, in my opinion, he won. But I think on the issues where both of them stand, I think that the nation will be divided.

FLOCK: And Wagner (ph), self-described Democrat?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right; I believe, if I had to choose, it would be Gore because I think he presented his issues more clearly and took a stand on the issues instead of putting down other candidates.

FLOCK: Good debate? Bad debate? What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a good debate, it was a good exchange of ideas, but, I mean, they set out their own rules and they broke them; so it kind of disgusted me, you know, looking at the debate and figuring out, you know, I've got to vote for one of these guys, but they can't follow their own rules that they put out in front.

But there was a good exchange of ideas -- real good about prescription drugs and education.

FLOCK: What are your big issues? Monique (ph), what's the top issue on your mind as you decide who you're going to vote for?

And you're a senior this year, and you're all going to vote for president this year.


FLOCK: What's your top issue?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My top issue is minority issues, looking at which candidate is best going to serve the minority population to which I'm a part of.

FLOCK: Who is that? Which candidate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me, I would think that Gore would be the best candidate for that.

FLOCK: Megan (ph), behind you, is that your top issue? And if not, what is and who best serves it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely think that's an important issue, but as an education major and a student at a Catholic university, my main issues have to do with education and education reform, as well as respect for life policies. Also, as a young person who will be soon entering the job force, I have a great amount of concern for taxes and Social Security. And I would love to have a president who is completely dedicated to those issues and committed to action and reform.

FLOCK: OK, let's take it to how they did last night. Anybody change their attitude?

What do you think, Rob, did you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was pretty pro-Bush before the debate started, and then, after watching it, I'm still probably going to vote for Bush, but it's just -- I know a lot of people expected him to not be as good a debater. I don't think he was.

I think, on issues, he knew what he was talking about, especially on the important issues like tax cuts, education, Social Security. He, I mean, he did back up what he was saying there; but on other issues, such as -- were you going to say something?

FLOCK: No, I was just going to ask, I was going to try to get the other side of the issue.

Michael, you're sort of a Gore guy going in. What did you think, coming out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming out I, kind of, was undecided because Gore -- Bush did make some really good points about prescription drugs that I thought was really good in protecting our senior citizens, and he's really out for protecting senior citizens, while Gore, on the other hand, really made a stand that he wants to protect the working class and the working man.

And being I'm going out into the workforce, yes, I want to, you know, I would like some protection in the working force, but eventually I'm going to be an elderly person. So what is decided now could, you know, will affect me down the line.

FLOCK: We got a close race here, don't we? Does that surprise you, and -- you know, it's hanging in the balance?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that it's definitely right split in the middle. I think that the polls, yesterday, had quoted Bush having 41 percent of the population's -- and Gore having 45 percent and the rest undecided, of course.

FLOCK: Would either of these men make a good president? Is there anybody who thinks one would make a bad president?

In other words, do we have strong feelings here, either side?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that either one is extraordinary, like, charismatic or, you know, would be one of the great presidents; but I think Gore would be a better president than Bush would be because he's more prone to getting things done and doing his issues.

FLOCK: OK, the counterpoint for the last word. Go ahead, Megan, we'll let you speak for Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I feel that Bush would definitely be a good candidate. He showed himself in the debate yesterday to be committed to action, to be committed to reform. I feel that our country needs to be represented by someone who can inspire us to be better people, to be better citizens and represent us with morals and character, and I feel that he's definitely the best to do that.

FLOCK: We will let you have that last word. I very much thank you for your time; I appreciated very much you taking time out of your class to talk with us.

I kind of like this, Lou; sampling opinions from folks who are the future leaders of this nation. I kind of like standing up in front of this class.

Back to you.

WATERS: Professor Flock, thank you so much.



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