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Dick Cheney and Joseph Lieberman Spar in Cordial Vice Presidential DebateAired October 5, 2000 - 8:30 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: They are the election-year boys of summer, thrust into the spotlight at their party conventions: Dick Cheney...
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DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: George W. Bush will defeat this vice president, and I will replace him.
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ANNOUNCER: Once a Republican congressman from Wyoming, White House chief of staff, and then defense secretary during the Gulf War.
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SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... Al Gore and I are going to go, go, go all the way to the White House in Washington.
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ANNOUNCER: ... a two-term Democratic senator from Connecticut and the first Jewish candidate on a national ticket. Rivals for the vice presidency of the United States: the No. 2 job that for 90 minutes gets top billing.
Tonight in Danville, Kentucky, they face off in their only debate of the campaign.
Now, from the CNN election desk, here's Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Good night. Well, tonight, the spotlight shines on two men who usually take a back seat in election 2000: Democrat Joe Lieberman and Republican Dick Cheney, one half hour away from their only scheduled vice presidential debate.
And Jeff Greenfield, there is something significant about the place where it's happening.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think so. Centre College in Danville, Kentucky is a very small school, about a thousand students. They've turned out two vice presidents as well as two Supreme Court justices.
WOODRUFF: And tell us who the vice presidents are.
GREENFIELD: John Breckinridge and Adlai Stevenson.
WOODRUFF: Only Jeff Greenfield would have this kind of information.
GREENFIELD: Having read the release. But also, this debate takes place in Kentucky, a battleground state. Bush carried it in 1988. Clinton carried it narrowly in '92, '96. It is clearly up for grabs this year. So a perfect setting in two ways for this debate.
WOODRUFF: All right. Just 48 hour ago, Tuesday night of this week, we saw the presidential contenders going after each other. Tonight, it's their running mates.
Jeff, what's -- what's the job of Lieberman and Cheney tonight? What are they trying to do?
GREENFIELD: I think vice presidential debates are really different from presidential debates, because the job of these guys is really to shore up their No. 1 and if they can to poke some holes in the resume of the opponents No. 1. Both of these fellows have candidates who debated 48 hours ago, and both of those candidates left something to be desired in the eyes of their own partisans.
So I think you can see Cheney trying to shore up Bush's credentials in terms of is he up for the job, and Joe Lieberman I think may have to shore up Al Gore's credentials in terms of his amiability, in terms of his ability to say what was. There are a lot of questions about some of his assertions Tuesday night. It's an interesting task.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield. Well, we're about -- what? -- 27 minutes away now, and now we want to get a little closer look at what we can expect from the two vice presidential candidates tonight.
We have two reports, first on Republican Dick Cheney from CNN's Pat Neal in Danville.
CHENEY: This is a memorable day for us...
PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This plain-speaking Westerner says he'll shoot straight with the American people. The former White House chief of staff, congressman and secretary of defense is most comfortable talking policy. He's expected to display his signature calm, as he did when asked what the U.S. role in Yugoslavia should be.
CHENEY: Always want to check to make sure you've got good information before you do anything.
NEAL: Cheney's likely to challenge Lieberman's confidence in the Democratic ticket, since he's running for re-election in the Senate and vice president at the same time. Expect Cheney to also accuse Lieberman of flip-flopping on the issues since being named Gore's running mate. And he'll question what Gore's accomplished in the past 7 1/2 years.
Cheney will appeal to Americans with the campaign's call for a bipartisan approach in Washington.
CHENEY: That's our desire, to take a new approach, if you will, to solving some of the nation's problems.
NEAL (on camera): Cheney has not debated in 12 years, but he is comfortable with the roundtable format, and he's confident he can both defend his conservative voting record and convince Americans he's ready to govern.
Pat Neal, CNN, Danville, Kentucky.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Chris Black with the Lieberman campaign. All week long, Joe Lieberman has been going through his paces, getting ready to reinforce the Democratic plan for the budget surplus and reassure voters about Al Gore the man.
LIEBERMAN: I'm looking forward to it, and I'm ready.
BLACK: Aides expect Lieberman to echo Gore's criticism of the Republican tax cut, and make the case for adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare and increasing federal support for public schools. And Lieberman is expected to deliver a personal testimonial about his friend of 15 years to swing voters with concerns about Gore's character.
LIEBERMAN: Al Gore is a very strong man, he's an honorable man.
BLACK: As he has done on the trail, Lieberman will slam George W. Bush's ideas and his record in Texas, but do it in his own way.
HOWARD REITER, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: I think he's shown that he's able to get some zingers across without coming across as harsh. He can do it in that kind of avuncular way that he has.
BLACK (on camera): Aides say Lieberman is also primed to aggressively respond to any attacks on his record or his commitment to core Democratic principles.
Chris Black, CNN, Danville, Kentucky. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WOODRUFF: Joining us now from the debate site in Danville, Joe Lieberman's colleague, Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, and on the Republican side, former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming.
Gentlemen, we thank you for being with us.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Judy.
ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Nice to be here.
WOODRUFF: Hello to both of you.
Senator Dodd, to you first: Al Gore has come under a lot of heat in the last few days from the Bush campaign and others about -- on this whole question of truthfulness, exaggeration, embellishing stories, whether they happened, whether they didn't happen. Is this something that Joe Lieberman can help him out with tonight?
DODD: Well, first of all, I don't think it's a problem. I think -- with all due respect, if the Republicans only want to talk about linguistics here and not about the subject matter that most Americans care about, and that is the prescription drugs, patients' bill of rights, minimum wage, a tax package that would maybe throw us back into deficit financing, those are the things Americans care about.
Whether or not he sighed once or twice, or whether or not he was actually on one trip and not another, if that's what you're going to try and drive a wedge in here, then I think they're on the wrong track. I don't think most Americans care about at all. They care about the issues that I just mentioned to you. And I think Joe will do a good job on highlighting those points and -- and raising those issues again tonight.
WOODRUFF: Senator Simpson, conversely, still questions out there about whether Governor Bush is up to the job. Are these questions that Dick Cheney can -- can effectively deal with tonight?
SIMPSON: No one can deal better with any issue of substance than Dick Cheney. I was in the Congress with him. He was there in the House for 10 years while I was in the Senate. He's a superb man of integrity and honesty and directness and candor.
And the real issue -- you know, Chris is a great pal and I really enjoy him and enjoyed serving with him. And that's real. But it's interesting to hear that you don't want to talk about linguistics or whatever it is. And I seem to think that's all they spent their time on with poor old Dan Quayle and whether there were subliminal or subliminable, what the hell ever that is.
And you know, it's a riot. But I'll tell you one thing they're going to find tonight and they're going to find in the campaign, Bush makes things work and Gore makes things up. That's a good slogan. We like that one.
WOODRUFF: So, Senator Dodd, if that's what Dick Cheney's going to say, what's Joe Lieberman's response going to be?
DODD: Well, again, I think Joe will, first of all, be talking about himself and being himself. Why, he's been received on this campaign trail as a breath of fresh air. He's competent on the issue. He'll be talking about the things again that I think Americans care about, and that is what they worry about: a good educational system in this country. What is Governor Bush going to say about it? What's happened in Texas? What are the things that vice president and President Clinton have advocated, what we've been able to achieve over the last few years in improving the quality of education in this country?
People want to look forward here and they want to know who's competent, who can be a good leader, who's got a good sense of confidence and security as we move forward. And again, I think Al Gore demonstrated that tremendously the other night, and I think Joe will again, too.
I mean, look, Dick Cheney is a very competent man. This is not about a question here of who lacks competency at all. He's held very important positions. He's a good person.
I think you will see tonight is Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney, two very civil individuals, having a good, healthy discussion about significant differences, and the American people will be the winners tonight in a sense, because they'll hear some real, real clear contrasts between two visions for America and the 21st century.
GREENFIELD: Senator Simpson, it's Jeff Greenfield here. How are you doing?
SIMPSON: Jeff, how are you?
GREENFIELD: Fine, thanks. Now, what interests me is we don't expect either of you to be completely dispassionate neutral commentators, but what interested me this morning was how many folks of the conservative bent, from places like "The Wall Street Journal" and "The National Review," seemed to be disappointed that Governor Bush didn't seem to know his own positions well enough to explain them. Is this something Dick Cheney can do something about? If a guy at the top of the ticket doesn't seem fully aware of his own proposals in areas like defense and taxes?
SIMPSON: Well, I think that's a bum rap on George Bush. I think what you saw -- if the rap is, is that George Bush doesn't know the issue, you've got to really know the best rap, and that is Al Gore doesn't know himself.
To stand there and say, I hope you get to know me, while he's looking this way and looking this way -- and this is -- this is a guy I know very well. I know all these people well. Joe Lieberman, as Chris says, is a superb person. But let me tell you, George Bush hasn't dropped the ball on anything in Texas. It's got one-third of the world -- of the United States' oil production, 60 percent of its chemical production. When he got to be governor, he started to do things to make it a livable place. It takes a while. You know, this was the stuff that was blowing up 20 or 30 years ago.
Education system: the best record for fourth grade education for African-Americans. This is a bum rap. All you have got to do is read and write.
GREENFIELD: All right...
SIMPSON: And it won't set. This is not -- this is not a guy that can be taken lightly. And I think that showed in the debate.
GREENFIELD: Senator Dodd, let me turn the same kind of question to you. There were a fair number of people on the Gore side of the equation who publicly said -- and one of them, actually, in the "New York Times" actually referred to him as Eddie Haskell, the fellow from "Leave it to Beaver" -- and said: You know, if Al Gore doesn't show a modicum of grace, and if he keeps comes out looking as condescending as he did, whatever the issues are, this is a problem.
I mean, Richard Nixon had a terrible problem, because people called him Tricky Dick. In candor, Senator Dodd, is this not a reason why Al Gore has not yet made the sale?
DODD: Well, first of all, Jeff, you and I may be a diminishing breed who even knows who Eddie Haskell is. But I...
GREENFIELD: They are on reruns on Nickelodeon, Senator.
DODD: I know. That's true, Jeff. That's right.
No, I don't think that's the case. Look, again -- I -- I think, clearly, and I say this with all due respect. Look, at the end of the debates, there wasn't knockout punch, per se, although I think the vice president clearly showed a mastery of the basic issues that people care about.
They worry about Medicare, Social Security, education, foreign policy. I don't think there was any doubt in anyone's mind over who understands these issues and has clear ideas on what he would do if elected president. Now, you know, I understand, if you are on the Republican side of this, you want to focus the attention on the body language, the sighing, the other things that may have been somewhat distracting to people.
I don't know if you can hear me or not. There's rather loud applause here in the back.
GREENFIELD: We hear you.
WOODRUFF: We can hear you. We can hear you, Senator. We are going to have to leave it there. Senator Chris Dodd and former Senator...
DODD: I can't hear a thing.
WOODRUFF: We use that as an opportunity to cut you off, Senator Dodd. Thank you both -- thank you both for being with us.
SIMPSON: All right.
WOODRUFF: And we'll talk to you after the debate.
DODD: After the debate. Less applause.
SIMPSON: You bet.
In just a minute, the view from the top of the tickets: Our John King and Kate Snow will update us on the Bush and Gore campaigns. And we invite you to drop into our real-time debate spin room. And you'll find it on the Web at cnn.com/election2000. Political analysts Bill Press and Tucker Carlson will assess the debate as it happens.
Then join Bill and Tucker live on television at midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. You'll be able to help them spin by calling in and e- mailing.
WOODRUFF: This was what it looked like about 25 minutes ago just outside the hall at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky when the Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney arrived for the debate.
And this is what it looks like right now inside the hall. You can see it is a different format from the presidential debate the other night. You don't see a couple of lecterns. Instead, you see a table there: a c-shaped table, we are told. And that debate gets under way in about 14 minutes from now.
Meantime, the Republican, George Bush, and Democrat, Al Gore, have settled in for the night to watch their running mates perform. For the view from both camps, we are joined by CNN's John King -- he's in Lake Buena Vista, Florida -- and CNN's Kate Snow. She is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
John, you have been traveling with the Gore people today. What are they worried about?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, let me first say the vice president hasn't quite settled in yet. We're outside a restaurant here in the Disney area in Florida, the vice president addressing a small gathering, about 80 people inside, a debate- watching party: local and loyal Democrats here.
Then he will go to his hotel and watch. They say they are really not worried about much at all. They want Senator Lieberman to press the tax-cut issue, as Chris Black explained earlier in the show. And look for this tonight. Look for a very sharp dissection from Senator Lieberman of the Texas record.
Gore aides telling us, Senator Lieberman -- as is traditional for the vice presidential candidate -- to be bit more aggressive in attacking. He will press on health care, the environment and education, saying that Governor Bush's record in Texas does not match his promises as a presidential candidate.
A bit of irony tonight, also, Judy: They expect Dick Cheney to take the lead, following up on Governor Bush in pressing credibility and character questions about the vice president. Remember, back in 1992, then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was furious at running mate, then-Tennessee Senator Al Gore after the vice presidential debate, because he did not believe Mr. Gore had responded aggressively enough when then-Vice-President Dan Quayle raised questions about Mr. Clinton's character.
They Gore campaign says they have no hesitation tonight. They believe Senator Lieberman will respond in kind if necessary. They also say that if there are attacks on Mr. Gore's character, look to hear a lot from Senator Lieberman labeling Bush-Cheney the "Big Oil ticket" -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, then, to Kate Snow in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the place where Al -- I'm sorry, where George Bush is headed tonight.
Kate, you have been with the Bush people all day. Do they have concerns?
KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, they won't expect any concerns, any worries at all, similar to the Bush -- to the Gore camp, rather. Bush did just arrive here, the governor arriving just a few minutes ago behind me at the hotel here in Cedars Rapids.
He will also watch the debate from the comfort of his hotel room, along with his wife Laura Bush. He then plans to address a post- debate party that Dick Cheney will be attending down in Danville, Kentucky. He'll do that via satellite from here in Cedar Rapids -- the governor arriving here about an hour ago at the airport with a rally to welcome him -- said he couldn't wait to get to the hotel and watch his running mate do what he does best.
He says he couldn't wait to get here and watch him share his vision for America. Now, Bush, for the last few days, ever since Tuesday, has been emphasizing the differences that he sees between his campaign and Vice President Al Gore. He says that he is for the people. He would put his trust in the people.
WOODRUFF: Kate, I'm -- I'm just -- I'm sorry, Kate. I just want to explain that, as you are talking, we're watching Mrs. Lieberman and Mrs. Cheney be introduced on the debate stage.
Keep talking, Kate.
SNOW: Just that Governor Bush has been emphasizing, Judy, since Tuesday, the message that he brought out on Tuesday, that he sees philosophical differences between their two camps. He says that he would put his trust in the people, where Al Gore would put his trust in the government and Washington, D.C. -- the Bush campaign saying they fully expect more of that to come out tonight, with Cheney talking more about the differences between the two campaigns -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Kate Snow reporting, John King reporting, we thank you very much.
And the pictures we've been looking at are of our own colleague, Bernard Shaw. As we know, he is the moderator of this vice presidential debate tonight. We see there, Hadassah Lieberman. A moment ago we saw Lynne Cheney. And again, we are just a matter of 10 or so minutes away from this debate.
In just a minute, before it gets under way, in a former -- we're going to be talking to a former presidential press secretary, Mike McCurry, and to "CROSSFIRE's" Mary Matalin. They'll have their say, and there is no need for you to feel left out. You can go to our Web site, cnn.com, and vote for who you think won tonight's debate.
One look at the auditorium there at Centre College, our Bernard Shaw talking to the audience, no doubt telling them to hold their applause and so forth.
Before we go that debate, which gets under way in about seven minutes, we want to hear from inside Washington's Beltway and talk to our own, "CROSSFIRE's" Mary Matalin, and former presidential press secretary Mike McCurry.
In just a couple of minutes to both of you, what is different about tonight's debate from Tuesday night? What do we look for, Mary, that is -- that's different?
MARY MATALIN, CNN "CROSSFIRE": Well, we look at them to do what the plan always was, which was to flesh out the foundation that the two candidates laid out there. So Dick Cheney will be giving more details about those programs. And at some point, we're looking for when people start thinking as they -- which is the point of the vice presidents, thinking the unthinkable, that this man may have to, if tragic occurred, fill that spot. And we'll be looking at Cheney and Lieberman for that.
WOODRUFF: Mike McCurry, is it that different for the two running mates to be debating from the No. 1 guys on the ticket?
MIKE MCCURRY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it is, because they're there and they have to be surrogates for the people who stand in, but I really agree with what Mary just said. I hate to, you know, plug a program that's on another network. But "The West Wing," which is a very, very popular program among those who are, you know, interested in politics, it's had a story line going in their season premiere this week about what happens if the awful moment occurs and a vice president has to take over.
And somehow or other, I mean, given the number of people who watch that show and are thinking about this, they do watch this tonight and sort of in the back of their minds say, "Could one of these people be president if that awful moment occurred and that happens?" And that is a big threshold that both of these guys have to, you know, overcome tonight.
I think they both will do it. They're both very, very well at that, and I think they could probably handle that challenge if they needed to.
WOODRUFF: And all of us know that in the last several decades our country has been confronted with that situation on several occasions. Thank you, both. We're going to talk to you after this debate, shortly after this debate.
We're going to say our quick -- we're going to take a quick pause here, and as you can see, as we were leaving this picture of the stage there, the two candidates -- Cheney, Lieberman -- were at their seats. Bernie was at his seat.
We're going to take a break. When we come back, we will get right to the debate. We are now about four minutes away.
WOODRUFF: Just moments away in what is being described in the closest presidential race since Nixon-Kennedy in 1960, and tonight it is the turn of the running mates: Dick Cheney, the Republican, Joe Lieberman, the Democrat -- seated there at a table on a stage at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
Joining me here to watch the debate and to consider what's being said, our colleagues Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider, both of you.
This is the one and only chance for these gentlemen.
GREENFIELD: Well, we've already seen a sharp break with tradition, and I don't mean to be facetious. Joe Lieberman is dressed precisely the same way that Al Gore and Governor Bush were: dark shirt, white shirt, red tie. Take a look at Dick Cheney: blue shirt and a blue patterned tie. I don't know what that means. I don't know the political significance, but it is a departure.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he's a Westerner, and I think he's trying to be a little bit more informal in his approach, because, you know, they say he has trouble connecting with people. I would say that Dick Cheney is not a happy warrior. He wants to show a lighter side, perhaps.
WOODRUFF: Not a happy warrior, and in fact, he's been the attack dog on the campaign trail the last few days. He's been the one out there just hammering away at Al Gore for those misstatements, if you will, in Tuesday night's debate.
GREENFIELD: I also think it's worth noting before this debate begins both these candidates were picked not to balance a ticket or to win a state, but to say something about the presidential candidates. George Bush was telling the country, I'm a serious man, I'm serious about international affairs, I'm picking not a political candidate but a governing choice. And Al Gore was saying, look, I'm not a cautious, risk-averse guy, I'm picking a bold choice, first Jewish guy on a ticket, and a man who publicly attacked President Clinton's behavior.
WOODRUFF: And in Bush's case, a family connection, if you will, because Dick Cheney served, as we know, as the defense secretary under President George Bush, George W. Bush's father.,
SCHNEIDER: And that's important today, because we're at a time today of international tension and crisis. And now, for the first time, I think a lot of people think, you know, Cheney might not be a bad choice for Bush, because he has experience in world affairs, knowledgeability, he's someone who ought to be in the White House at a time of international tension.
WOODRUFF: We see them seated there at that table. You cannot see the moderator. He is CNN's own Bernard Shaw. But we just saw them smiling and having a few words with each other. It may be one of the few times tonight that they smile at each other. Or who knows? This could be a much friendlier encounter than some have expected.
Jeff, we're just about -- what? -- about a minute away.
GREENFIELD: I also think you're going to hear -- and I'm guessing here -- a little less scripting than happened Tuesday night. Joe Lieberman is a very comfortable conversational kind of guy. He's very much at ease on things like Mr. Imus' radio program. And Dick Cheney is a fellow who I think much prefers the idea of sitting down in a conversational mode than standing in front of a lectern and pounding away.
This actually could be a much more fascinating debate in terms of actually maybe hearing some spontaneity.
WOODRUFF: In many ways, it could. I think actually having a table there where they're seated closer together I think is going to change the dynamics very much from what we saw with the two lecterns on Tuesday night.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. They're -- because they have to talk to each other, they have to face each other, they can interrupt each other. That's hard to do when you're at a lectern.
WOODRUFF: All right, we are going to stop talking ourselves and turn it over to our colleague, Bernard Shaw, who is going to set up this debate and he's going to ask the questions for the next 90 minutes. Let's listen.
BERNARD SHAW, MODERATOR/CNN ANCHOR: From historic, Danville, Kentucky, good evening and welcome to this year's only vice presidential debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. I'm Bernard Shaw of CNN, moderator.
Tonight, we come to you from Newlin Hall in the Norton Center for the Arts on the campus of Centre College. To President John Roush, the faculty here, students, and community leaders statewide, we thank you for hosting this debate.
The candidates are the Republican nominee, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney of Wyoming, and the Democratic nominee, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
The commission, these candidates and their campaign staffs have agreed to the following rules: A candidate shall have two minutes to respond to the moderator's question. The other candidate shall have two minutes to comment on the question or the first candidate's answer.
When I exercise the moderator's discretion of extending discussion of a question, no candidate may speak for more than two minutes at one time.
This audience has been told no disruptions will be tolerated.
A prior coin toss has determined that the first question will go to the Democratic candidate.
Senator, few hardworking Americans would base their well-being on bonuses they hoped to get five or 10 years from now. Why do you and you, Secretary Cheney, predict surpluses you cannot possibly guarantee to pay for your proposed programs?
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, before I answer that very important question, let me first thank you for moderating the debate. Let me thank the wonderful people here at Centre College and throughout Kentucky for being such gracious hosts. And let me give a special thank you to the people of Connecticut, without whose support over these last 30 years I would never have had the opportunity Al Gore has given me this year.
And finally, let me thank my family that is here with me: my wife, Hadassah, our children, our siblings and my mom.
My 85-year-old mom gave me some good advice about the debate earlier today. She said, "Sweetheart," as she is prone to call me, "Remember, be positive and know that I will love you no matter what your opponent says about you."
Well, Mom, as always, that was both reassuring and wise.
I am going to be positive tonight. I'm not going to indulge in negative personal attacks. I'm going to talk about the issues that I know matter to the people of this country: education, health care, retirement security and moral values. I'm going to describe the plan that Al Gore and I have for keeping America's prosperity going and making sure that it benefits more of America's families, particularly the hard-working middle class families who have not yet fully benefited from the good times we've had.
And, Bernie, I'm going to explain tonight how we're going to do all this and remain fiscally responsible.
Let me briefly get to your question.
SHAW: You have about 10 seconds.
LIEBERMAN: All right. We're not spending any more than is projected by the experts. In fact, unlike our opponents, we're setting aside $300 billion in a reserve fund just in case those projections the nonpartisan experts make are not quite right.
We understand that balancing the budget, keeping America...
SHAW: Your time is up, Senator.
LIEBERMAN: ... out of debt is the way to keep interest rates down and the economy growing.
SHAW: Secretary Cheney?
CHENEY: Well, I, too, want to join in thanking the folks here in Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, for sponsoring this and making all of this possible.
And I am delighted to be here tonight with you, Joe. And I, too, want to avoid any personal attacks. I promise not to bring up your singing.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I promise not to sing.
I think this is an extraordinarily important decision we're going to make on November 7. We're really going to choose between what I consider to be an old way of governing ourselves of high levels of spending, high taxes, an ever more intrusive bureaucracy, or a new course, a new era, if you will. And Governor Bush and I want to offer that new course of action.
With respect to the surplus, Bernie, we've got to make some kind of forecast. We can't make 12-month decisions in this business. We're talking about the kinds of fundamental changes in programs and government that are going to affect people's lives for the next 25 or 30 years. And while it may be a little risky in some respects from an economic standpoint to try to forecast surpluses, I think it's -- you have to make some planning assumption on which to proceed.
We care a great deal about the issues that are at stake here. And one of the difficulties we have, frankly, is that for the last eight years, we ignored a lot these problems. We haven't moved aggressively on Social Security. We haven't moved, for example, on Medicare. There are important issues out there that need to be resolved, and it's important for us to get on with that business. And that's what Governor Bush and I want to do.
SHAW: You alluded to problems. There's no magic bullet, Secretary Cheney. And this question to you: No magic bullets to solve the problems of public education, but what's the next best solution?
CHENEY: Well, I think public education is the solution. Our desire is to find ways to reform our educational system, to return it to its former glory. I'm a product of public schools. My family, my wife and daughters, all went to public schools. And we believe very much in the public school system.
But if you look at where we are, from the standpoint of a nation, the recent exams, for example, the National Assessment of Educational Progress independent nonpartisan testing service shows that there's been no progress on reading scores in the last eight years, almost no progress on math. The achievement gap between minority and non- minority students is as big as its ever been. We've had a significant increase in spending for education nationwide, but it's produced almost no positive results.
That's really unacceptable from our standpoint, because if you look at it and think about it, we now have, in our most disadvantaged communities, nearly 70 percent of our fourth-graders can't read at basic level. We've graduated 15 million kids from high school in the last 15 years who can't read at basic level. They are permanently sentenced to a lifetime of failure.
And what we want to do, what Governor Bush and I want to do, is to change that. We think we know how to do it. Governor Bush has done it in Texas. We want to emphasize local controls, so that the people here in Danville, Kentucky, decide what's best for their kids.
CHENEY: And we want to insist on high standards. One of the worst things we can do is fail to establish high standards, in effect to say to a youngster, because of their ethnic background or their income level, we don't have the same kind of expectations from you that we have for everybody else.
And we want accountability. We have to test every child every year to know whether or not we're making progress with respect to achieving those goals and objectives.
So we think it's extraordinarily important. This is probably the single most important issue in this campaign. Governor Bush has made it clear that when he's elected, this will be his number one priority as a legislative measure to submit to the Congress.
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, Al Gore and I are committed to making America's public schools the best in the world. And I disagree with what my opponent has said. A lot of progress has been made in recent years. Average testing scores are up, and lot of extraordinary work is being done by tens of thousands of parents and teachers and administrators all around America. But there's more to be done.
And if you'll allow me, I want to go back to your last question because it leads to this question. I think both of us agree that, leaving aside the Social Security and Medicare surpluses, there's $1.8 trillion in surplus available to spend over the next 10 years. As I said before, we're being fiscally responsible about it. We're taking $300 billion off the top to put into a reserve fund. The rest of it, we're going to use for middle class tax cuts and investments in programs like education.
Now, there's a big difference here between these two tickets. Our opponents are going to spend $1.6 trillion of the $1.8 trillion surplus projected on that big tax cut that Al Gore talked about the other night so effectively.
LIEBERMAN: We're saving money to invest in education. You cannot reform education and improve it in this country without spending some money. Al Gore and I have committed $170 billion for that purpose: to recruit 100,000 new teachers to reduce the size of classrooms, to help local school districts build new buildings so our children are not learning in crumbling classrooms.
And we're not just going to stop at high school. We're going to go on and give the middle class the ability to deduct up to $10,000 a year in the cost of college tuition. Now, that's a tremendous lifesaving change which will help people carry on their education and allow them to develop the kinds of skills that will help them succeed in the high tech economy of today.
CHENEY: Very important issue, Bernie. Maybe we could extend on education for a moment?
SHAW: You're asking me to invoke the moderator's discretion on further discussion?
CHENEY: I am asking you to invoke the moderator's discussion, as is your discretion.
SHAW: It is so granted.
CHENEY: Thank you, sir.
LIEBERMAN: You Honor, do I chance to respond?
SHAW: Of course you do.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
SHAW: The secretary will have two minutes, and then you will have two minutes.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
CHENEY: Let's talk about this question of the surplus, because it really drives a lot of what we're talking about here, Joe.
And if you look at our proposal, we take half of the projected surplus and set it aside for Social Security, over $2.4 trillion. We take roughly a fourth of it for other urgent priorities, such as Medicare reform and education and several of these other key programs we want to support, and we take roughly one-fourth of it and return it, in the form of a tax cut, to the American taxpayer.
CHENEY: We think it is extraordinarily important to do that. But it is a fundamental difference between our two -- our two approaches.
If you look, frankly, by our numbers and the numbers of the Senate Budget Committee, which has totaled up all the promises that Vice President Gore has made during the course of the campaign, they are some $900 billion in spending over and above that projected surplus already, and we still have a month to go in the campaign.
The fact is that the program that we put together we think is very responsible. The suggestion that somehow all of it is going for tax cuts isn't true. Another way to look at it is that over the course of the next 10 years we'll collect roughly $25 trillion in revenue. We want to take about 5 percent of that and return that to the American taxpayer in the form of tax relief.
We have the highest level of taxation now we've had since World War II. The average American family is paying about 40 percent in federal, state and local taxes. We think it is appropriate to return to the American people so that they can make choices themselves in how that money ought to be spent, whether they want to spend it on education or on retirement or on paying their bills. It's their choice. It's their prerogative.
We want to give them the opportunity to make those kinds of choices for themselves. And we think this is a totally reasonable approach.
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, let me start with the numbers. With all respect, the Senate Budget Committee estimates that Dick Cheney has just referred to are the estimates of the partisan Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee.
LIEBERMAN: We're using the numbers presented by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
And we start with an agreement, which is that the surplus in the Social Security fund should be locked up and used for Social Security. That's where the agreement ends.
We also agree and believe and pledge that the surplus in the Medicare trust fund should also be locked up, with a sign on it that says, "Politicians, keep your hands off."
Our opponents do not do that. In fact, they raid the Medicare trust fund to pay for, well, their tax cut and other programs that they can't afford because they've spent so much on the tax cut.
Let me come back to the remaining $1.8 trillion that we both talked about. The numbers show that $1.6 trillion goes to that big tax cut, which, as Al Gore said the other night, sends 43 percent to the top 1 percent.
But really worse than that, when you add on the other spending programs that our opponents have committed to, plus the cost of their plan to privatize Social Security, by our calculation they are $1.1 trillion in debt. And that means we go back down the road to higher interest rates, to higher unemployment, to a kind of stealth tax increase on every American family, because when interest rates go up, so too do the cost of mortgage payments, car payments, student loans, credit card transactions.
So if we've learned anything over the last eight years, it is that one of the most important things the government can do, the federal government, probably the most important, is to be fiscally responsible.
LIEBERMAN: And that's why Al Gore and I are committed to balancing the budget every year. In fact, to paying off the debt by the year 2012, when, by our calculation, our opponents' economic plan still leaves America $2.8 trillion in debt.
SHAW: Time. The next question goes to you.
Gentlemen, this is the 21st century, yet on average an American working woman in our great nation earns 75 cents for each dollar earned by a working male. What do you males propose to do about it?
LIEBERMAN: Well, it's a good and important question. Obviously, in our time, fortunately, great advances have been made by women achieving the kind of equality that they were too long denied. But, Bernie, your question is absolutely right. Women, actually the number I have, receive 72 cents for every dollar a man receives in a comparable job.
Al Gore and I have issued an economic plan in which we've stated specific goals for the future. And one of those goals is to eliminate the pay gap between men and women. It's unfair and it's unacceptable.
And the first way we will do that is by supporting the Equal Pay Act, which has been proposed in Congress, which gives women the right to file legal actions against employers who are not treating them fairly and not paying them equally.
Secondly, we're going to do everything we can using governmental support of business agencies, such as the Small Business Administration, to help women business owners have an opportunity to invest and begin businesses and make larger incomes themselves.
LIEBERMAN: And there are other civil rights and human rights laws that I think can come to play here.
So, bottom line, this is an unfair and unacceptable situation. And even though as the economy has risen in the last eight years, America's women have risen with it and received more income, until women are receiving the same amount of pay for the same job they're doing as a man receives, we've not achieved genuine equality in this country. And Al Gore and I are committed to closing that gap and achieving that equality.
You know, in so many families, women are a significant bread earner or the only bread earner, so this cause affects not only the women, but families and the children as well.
SHAW: Mr. Secretary?
CHENEY: Bernie, I certainly share the view that we ought to have equal pay for equal work regardless of someone's gender, and we've made major progress in recent years. I think we've still got a ways to go.
But I also think it's not just about the differential with respect to women. If you look, for example, at our opponents' tax proposal, they discriminate between stay-at-home moms with children that they take care of themselves and those who go to work or who, in fact, have their kids taken care of outside the home. You, in effect, as a stay-at-home mom, get no tax advantage under the Gore tax plan, as contrasted with the Bush proposal, which, in fact, provides tax relief for absolutely everybody who pays taxes.
CHENEY: And it's important to understand that the things that we're trying to change and the things that we're trying to address in the course of the campaign, what are agenda is for the future, or plans are for the future, focus very much upon giving as much control as we can to individual Americans, be they men or women, be they single or married, as much control as possible over their own lives.
Especially in the area of taxation, we want to make certain that the American people have the ability to keep more of what they earn and then they get to decide how to spend it. The proposal we have from Al Gore, basically, doesn't do that. It, in effect, lays out some 29 separate tax credits. And if you live your life the way they want you to live your life, if you do, in fact, behave in a certain way, then you qualify for a tax credit and at that point you get some relief.
The bottom line, though, is 50 million American taxpayers out there get no advantages at all out of the Gore tax proposal, whereas under the Bush plan, everybody who pays taxes will, in fact, get tax relief.
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, might I have an opportunity to respond here? SHAW: You can respond, Senator, but I caution you gentlemen that if you do this consistently, we're not going to cover a lot of topics. And after the senator responds, you don't have to feel compelled to respond to the senator.
CHENEY: Depends on what he says, Bernie.
LIEBERMAN: Right. This is an important difference between us, and I want to try to clarify it briefly if I can. The first thing is that, in fact, the tax relief program that Al Gore and I have proposed, one of those many tax credits for the middle class that Dick just referred to, includes a $500 tax credit for stay-at-home moms, just as a way of saying, we understand that you are performing a service for our society, we want you to have that tax credit.
LIEBERMAN: Second, the number of 50 million Americans not benefiting from our tax cut program is absolutely wrong. It's an estimate done on an earlier form of our tax cut program, and it's just plain wrong.
And, secondly, although Governor Bush says that his tax cut program, large as it is, gives a tax cut to everybody, as the newspapers indicated earlier this week, the Joint Committee on Taxation -- again, a nonpartisan group in Congress -- has said that 27 million Americans don't get what the governor said they would in their tax cut program.
Again, Al Gore and I want to live within our means. We're not going to give it all away in one big tax cut, and certainly not to the top 1 percent of the public that doesn't need it now.
So we're focusing our tax cuts on the middle class, in the areas where they tell us they need it: tax credits for better and more expensive child care; tax credits for middle class families that don't have health insurance from their employers; the tax deduction I talked about earlier, a very exciting deduction for up to $10,000 a year in the cost of a college tuition; a $3,000 tax credit for the cost -- well, actually, for a family member who stays home with a parent or grandparent who's ill; and a very exciting tax credit program that I hope I'll have a chance to talk about later, Bernie, that encourages savings by people early in life and any time in life by having the federal government match savings for the 75 million Americans who make $100,000 or less up to $2,000 a year.
LIEBERMAN: So very brief -- very briefly, if a young couple making $50,000 a year saves $1,000, the government will put another $1,000 in that account. By the time they retire, they'll not only have guaranteed Social Security, but more than $200,000 in that retirement fund. Now that's...
SHAW: You're time is up, Senator.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you, sir.
CHENEY: Bernie, you have to be a CPA to understand what he just said. The fact of the matter is that the plan is so complex that an ordinary American's never going to be able to figure out what they even qualify for.
And it is a classic example of wanting to have a program, in this case a tax program, that will, in fact, direct people to live their lives in certain ways rather than empowering them to make decisions for themselves.
It is a big difference between us. They like tax credits. We like tax reform and tax cuts.
SHAW: Mr. Secretary, this question is for you. Would you support the effort of House Republicans who want legislation to restrict distribution of the abortion drug RU-486?
CHENEY: Bernie, the abortion issue is a very tough one, without question, and a very important one. And Governor Bush and I have emphasized that, while we clearly are both pro-life, that's what we believe, that we want to look for ways to try to reduce the incidence of abortion in our society. Many on the pro-choice side have said exactly the same thing. Even Bill Clinton, who's been a supporter of abortion rights, has advocated reducing abortion to make it as rare as possible.
CHENEY: With respect to the question of RU-486, we believe that -- of course, that it's recently been approved by the FDA, that it really was a question of whether or not it was safe to be used by women. They didn't address the -- sort of, the question of whether or not there should or should not be abortion in the society, so much as evaluate that particular drug.
What we'd like to be able to do is to look for ways to reach across the divide between the two points of view and find things that we can do together to reduce the incidence of abortion. We look at such things as promoting adoption as an alternative, encouraging the parental notification, and we also think banning the horrific practice of partial-birth abortions is an area where there could be agreement.
Congress has twice passed, by overwhelming margins, significant number of votes from both parties, the ban on partial-birth abortions. Twice it's been vetoed by Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Now, we would hope that eventually they would recognize that that's not a good position for them to be in.
With respect to the RU-486 proposal, at this stage, I haven't looked in particular at that particular piece of legislation. Governor Bush made it clear the other night that he did not anticipate that he would be able to go in and direct the FDA to reverse course on that particular issue, primarily because they say the decision they made was on the efficacy of the drug, not the question of whether or not we supported abortion. LIEBERMAN: Bernie, this is a very important question and it is one on which these two tickets have dramatically different points of view. My answer is no, I would not support legislation that is being introduced in Congress to override the Food and Drug Administration decision on RU-486.
LIEBERMAN: The administration, FDA, worked 12 years on this serious problem, they made a judgment based on what was good for women's health; a doctor has to prescribe and care for a woman using it. I think it's a decision that we ought to let stand because it was made by experts.
But let me say, more generally, that the significant difference here on this issue is that Al Gore and I respect and will protect a woman's right to choose and our opponents will not. We know that this is a difficult, personal, moral, medical issue. But that is exactly why it ought to be left, under our law, to a woman, her doctor and her god.
Now, one area in which we agree, Al Gore and I, is that we believe that the government ought to do everything it can to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and therefore the number of abortions.
And, incidentally, here there is good news to report. The number of abortions is actually down in America over the last eight years. In fact, over the last eight years the number of teenage pregnancies has dropped 20 percent. And the reason it has is that there are good programs out there that Al Gore and I will continue to support, such as family planning and programs that encourage abstinence.
But when the health of a woman is involved, I think the government has to be respectful. I supported, in fact, a bill in the Senate that would have prohibited late-term abortions, except in cases where the health or life of the mother was involved.
LIEBERMAN: I did not support the so-called partial-birth abortion bill because it would have prohibited abortion -- that form of abortion at any state of the pregnancy, regardless of the effect on the health and life of the woman, and that's unacceptable.
SHAW: This question is for you, Senator.
If Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic prevails, notwithstanding the election results, would you support his overthrow?
LIEBERMAN: Well, there is good news from Belgrade today, Bernie, as you know, but it's unconfirmed. The encouraging news is that the state news agency is reporting that Mr. Kostunica is the president- elect and there are some press reports, but they're unconfirmed, that Milosevic has actually left Belgrade.
Now that is a very happy ending to a terrible story, and it's the end of a reign of terror. It that does -- if that is not confirmed and does not happen, then I think the United States, with its European allies, ought to everything we can to encourage the people of Serbia to do exactly what they've been doing over the last few days, to rise up and end this reign of terror and bring themselves -- by Milosevic -- and bring themselves back into the family of nations where they will be welcomed by the United States and others.
You know, I'm very proud on this night, as it appears that Milosevic is about to or has fallen, of the leadership role the United States played in the effort to stop his aggression and genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo.
LIEBERMAN: I know our opponents have said that they thought that was an overreaching. It wasn't. It was a matter of principle and America's national interests and values. And the fact is that we stopped the aggression, we stopped the genocide, and therefore strengthened our relationship with our European allies in NATO and, in fact, made the United States more respected and trusted by our allies and more feared by our enemies.
I think that Vice President Gore played a critical role, passionate, purposive role, in leading the administration, along with Republican supporters like Bob Dole and John McCain, to do the right thing in the Balkans. And hopefully tonight we are seeing the final results of that bold and brave effort.
SHAW: Secretary Cheney?
CHENEY: Well, I noted, Bernie, that, like Joe, certainly I'm pleased to see what's happened in Yugoslavia today. I hope it marks the end of Milosevic. I think that probably more than anything else, it's a victory for the Serbian people. They have taken to the streets to support their democracy, to support their vote.
In some respects, this is a continuation of a process that began 10 years ago all across Eastern Europe, and it's only now arrived in Serbia. We saw it in Germany, we saw it in Romania, we saw it in Czechoslovakia, as the people of Eastern Europe rose up and made their claim for freedom. And I think we all admire that.
CHENEY: I think with respect to how this process has been managed most recently, we want to do everything we can to support Mr. Milosevic's departure. Certainly, though, that would not involve committing U.S. troops. I do think it's noteworthy that there appears to be an effort under way to get the Russians involved.
I noted the other night, for example, Tuesday night in the debate in Boston, Governor Bush suggested exactly that, that we ought to try to get the Russian's involved to exercise some leverage over the Serbians and Al Gore pooh-poohed it. But now it's clear from the press that, in fact, that's exactly what they were doing; that it's -- that Governor Bush was correct in his assessment and his recommendation. He has supported the administration on Kosovo. He lobbied actively against passage of the Byrd-Warner provision, which would have set a specific deadline, one they felt was too soon for forcing U.S. troops out. So he's been supportive of the policy that we've seen with respect to Yugoslavia, and I think he deserves a lot of credit for that.
I'd go beyond that. I think this is an opportunity for the United States to test President Putin of Russia, that, in fact, now is the time when we ought to find out whether or not he is indeed committed to democracy, whether or not he's willing to support the forces of freedom in democracy diplomatically in the area there of Eastern Europe. And it's a test for him, in effect, or whether he represents the old guard in the Soviet Union.
One of the most important challenges we face as a nation is how we manage that process of integrating those 150 million Eastern Europeans into the security and economic framework of Europe.
SHAW: Your question, Mr. Secretary.
You and Governor Bush charge that the Clinton-Gore administration have presided over the deterioration and overextension of America's armed forces. Should U.S. military personnel be deployed as warriors or peacekeepers?
CHENEY: My preference is to deploy them as warriors. There may be occasion when it's appropriate to use them in a peacekeeping role, but I think that role ought to be limited and I think there ought to be a time limit on it.
The reason we have a military is to be able to fight and win wars, and to maintain it with sufficient strength so that would-be adversaries are deterred from ever launching a war in the first place.
I think that the administration has, in fact, in this area, failed in a major responsibility. We've seen a reduction in our forces far beyond anything that was justified by the end of the Cold War. At the same time, we've seen a rapid expansion of our commitments around the world as troops have been sent hither and yon. Testimony just last week by the Joint Chiefs of Staff before the House Armed Services Committee pointed out a lot of these problems, that the -- for example, General Mike Ryan of the Air Force, that with 40 percent fewer aircraft, he's now undertaking three times as many deployments on a regular basis as he had to previously.
So we're over-committed and we're under-resourced. This has had some other unfortunate effects.
CHENEY: I saw a letter, for example, the other day, from a young captain stationed down at Fort Bragg, graduate of West Point, '95, getting ready to get out of the service because he's only allowed to train with his troops when fuel is available for the vehicles and only allowed to fire their weapons twice a year. He's concerned that if he ever had to send them into combat, it would mean lives lost.
That is a legitimate concern, and this is a very important area. In fact the U.S. military is worse off today than it was eight years ago. Major responsibility for us in the future and a high priority for myself and Governor Bush will be to rebuild the U.S. military, to give them the resources they need to do the job we ask them to do for us and to give them good leadership.
SHAW: Senator, you're shaking your head in disagreement.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I am, Bernie. And most important, I want to assure the American people that the American military is the best- trained, best-equipped, most powerful force in the world, and that Al Gore and I will do whatever it takes to keep them that way.
It's not right and it's not good for our military to run them down, essentially, in the midst of a partisan political debate.
The fact is that you've got to judge the military by what the military leaders say. And Secretary Bill Cohen, a good Republican, General Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both will tell you that the American military is ready to meet any threat we may face in the world today.
And the fact is, judging by its results, from Desert Storm to the Balkans, Bosnia and Kosovo, to the operations that are still being conducted to keep Saddam Hussein in a box in Iraq, the American military has performed brilliantly.
LIEBERMAN: In fact, this administration has turned around the drop in spending on the military that began in the mid-'80s and went right through the Bush-Cheney administration in the early years of the Clinton administration, but now that stopped. In fact, we passed the largest pay increase in a generation for our military.
And the interesting fact here, in spite of the rhetoric that my opponent has just spoken, is that the reality is that if you look at our projected budgets for the next 10 years, Al Gore and I actually commit more than twice as much, $100 billion in additional funding for our military, than Governor Bush does. And their budget allows nothing additional for acquisition of new weapons systems, and that's something that the same General Mike Ryan of the Air Force and all the other chiefs of the services will not be happy about, because they need the new equipment, the new systems that Al Gore and I are committed to giving them.
CHENEY: Bernie, this is of special interest of mine. I'd like a chance to elaborate further, if I might?
The -- the facts are dramatically different. I'm not attacking the military, Joe. I have enormous regard for the men and women of the U.S. military. I had the great privilege of working with them for the four years I was secretary of defense, and no one has a higher regard than I do for them. But it's irresponsible to suggest that we should not have this debate in a presidential campaign, that we should somehow ignore what is a major, major concern. And if you have friends or relatives serving in the U.S. military, you know there's a problem.
CHENEY: If you look at the data that's available: 40 percent of our Army helicopters that are not combat ready; combat readiness level in the Air Force that's dropped from 85 percent to 65 percent; significant problems of retention.
The important thing for us to remember is that we're a democracy, and we're defended by volunteers. Everybody out there tonight wearing the uniform, standing on guard to protect the United States, is there because they volunteered to put on the uniform. And when we don't give them the spare parts they need to maintain their equipment, when we don't give our pilots the flying hours they need to maintain their proficiency, when we don't give them the kind of leadership that spells out what their mission is, and let's them know why they're there and what they're doing, why they're putting their lives at risk, then we undermine that morale.
That is an extraordinarily valuable trust. There is no more important responsibility for a president of the United States than his role as commander in chief, and the obligation that he undertakes on behalf of all of us to decide when to send our young men and women to war.
When we send them without the right kind of training, when we send them poorly equipped or with equipment that's old and broken down, we put their lives at risk. We will suffer more casualties in the conflict if we don't look to those basic, fundamental problems.
Now, with all due respect, Joe, this administration has a bad track record in this regard, and it's available for anybody who wants to look at the record and wants to talk to our men and women in uniform and wants to spend time with the members of the Joint Chiefs, wants to look at readiness levels and other indicators.
Final point: The issue of procurement is very important because we're running now off the build up of the investment we made back during the Reagan years.
SHAW: Time, sir.
CHENEY: As that equipment gets old, it has to be replaced. And we've taken money out of the procurement budget to support other ventures; we have not been investing in the future of the U.S. military.
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, I think it's very important to respond to this. Yes, of course, it's an important debate to have as part of this campaign, but I don't want either the military to feel uneasy or the American people to feel insecure. And what I'm saying now I'm basing on service on the Senate Armed Services Committee, talking to exactly the people that Cheney has mentioned: the secretary of defense, the chiefs of staff. I've visited our fighting forces around the world, and I'm telling you that we are ready to meet any contingency that might arise.
The good news here, and the interesting news, is that we have met our recruitment targets in each of the services this year. In fact, in the areas where our opponents have said we are overextended, such as the Balkans, the soldiers there have the higher rate of reenlistment than anywhere else in the service because they feel a sense of purpose, a sense of mission.
In fact, this administration has begun to transform the American military, to take it away from being a Cold War force, to prepare it to meet the threats of the new generation of tomorrow of weapons of mass destruction, of ballistic missiles, of terrorism, even of cyber- warfare.
And the fact is that Governor Bush recommended, in his major policy statement on the military earlier this year, that we skip the next generation of military equipment: helicopters, submarines, tactical air fighters, all the rest.
LIEBERMAN: That would really cripple our readiness, exactly the readiness that Dick Cheney is talking about.
Al Gore and I are committed to continuing this acquisition program, transforming the military. There's fewer people in uniform today, but person to person -- person by person, unit by unit, this is the most powerful and effective military not only in the world today, but in the history of the world.
LIEBERMAN: And, again, Al Gore and I will do whatever is necessary to keep it that way.
SHAW: Senator Lieberman, this question to you. Once again in the Middle East, peace talks on the one hand, deadly confrontations on the other, and the flash point, Jerusalem, and then there's Syria. Is United States policy what it should be?
LIEBERMAN: Yes, it is. It has truly pained me in the last week, Bernie, to watch the unrest and the death occurring in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Palestinians. So much work has been done by the people there with the support of this administration, so much progress has been made in the original Oslo Agreements between the Israelis and the Palestinians adopted in 1993, in the peace between Israel and Jordan thereafter. I mean, America has a national strategic interest and a principled interest in peace in the Middle East.
LIEBERMAN: And Al Gore has played a critical role in advancing that process over the last eight years. What pains me, as I watch the unrest in recent days between the Israelis and the Palestinians, is that these two peoples have come, in some senses, generations forward, centuries forward in the last seven years. They are so close to a final peace agreement. I hope and pray that the death and unrest in the last week will not create the kinds of scars that make it hard for them to go back to the peace table with American assistance and achieve what I'm convinced a great majority of the Israeli and Palestinian people want, indeed, people throughout the Middle East, which is peace.
Secretary Albright has been in Paris meeting with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat. I hope and pray that her mission is successful, that there is a cease-fire, and the parties return to the peace table.
Now, we've been on a very constructive course in the Middle East, played an unusual, unique role, and I am convinced that Al Gore and I -- I commit that Al Gore and I will continue to do that. I hope I might, through my friendship in Israel and throughout the Arab world, play a unique role in bringing peace to this sacred region of the world.
CHENEY: Bernie, it's -- it has been a very, very difficult area to work in for a long time. Numerous administrations, going back certainly to World War II, have had to wrestle with the problem of what should happen in the Middle East.
We made significant breakthroughs, I think, at the end of the Bush administration because of the Gulf War.
CHENEY: In effect, we had joined together with Arab allies and done enormous damage to the Iraqi armed forces, and Iraq at the time was the biggest military threat to Israel.
By virtue of the end of the Cold War, the Soviets were no longer a factor. They used to fish in troubled waters whenever they had the opportunity in the Middle East. But with the end of the Soviet Union, the implosion, if you will, of the empire, that created a vacuum, if you will, and made it easier for us to operate there.
We were able to, I think, reassure both Arabs and Israelis that the United States would play a major role there, that we had the ability and the will to deploy forces to the region if we had to, to engage in military operations to support our friends and oppose our foes. And, of course, we were able to convene the Madrid Conference that, in effect, was the first time Arab and Israeli sat down face-to- face and began this process of trying to move the peace process forward.
I think also a lot of credit goes to some great men like Yitzhak Rabin. His tragic passing was of major consequence, a great tragedy for everybody who cares about peace in the Middle East. He was a man who had the military stature to be able to confidently persuade the Israelis, I think, to take some risk for peace. I think Prime Minister Barak has tried the same thing. I hope that we can get this resolved as soon as possible. My guess is that the next administration is going to be the one that's going to have to come to grips with the current state of affairs there. I think it's very important that we have an administration where we have a president with firm leadership, who has the kind of track record of dealing straight with people, of keeping his word, so that friends and allies both respect us and our adversaries fear us.
SHAW: This question is for you, Mr. Secretary.
If Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, were found to be developing weapons of mass destruction, Governor Bush has said he would, quote, "Take him out." Would you agree with such a deadly policy?
CHENEY: We might have no other choice. We'll have to see if that happens. The thing about Iraq, of course, was at the end of the war, we had pretty well decimated their military. We had put them back in a box, so to speak. We had a strong international coalition raid against them, effective economic sanctions and a very robust inspection regime that was in place, so that the inspection regime, under UN auspices, was able to do a good job of stripping out the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, the work that he'd been doing that had not been destroyed during the war, and biological chemical agents as well as a nuclear program.
Unfortunately, now we find ourselves in a situation where that started to fray on us, where the coalition now no longer is tied tightly together. Recently the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, two Gulf states, have reopened diplomatic relations with Baghdad. The Russians and the French now are flying commercial airliners back into Baghdad, and, sort of, thumbing their nose, if you will, at the international sanctions regime. And, of course, the UN inspectors have been kicked out, and there's been absolutely no response.
So we're in a situation today where I think our posture vis-a-vis Iraq is weaker than it was at the end of the war.
CHENEY: I think that's unfortunate. I also think it's unfortunate we find ourselves in a position where we don't know for sure what might be transpiring inside Iraq. I certainly hope he's not regenerating that kind of capability. But if he were, if, in fact, Saddam Hussein were taking steps to try to rebuild nuclear capability or weapons of mass destruction, we'd have to give very serious consideration to military action to stop that activity. I don't think you can afford to have a man like Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons, say, in the Middle East.
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, it would, of course, be a very serious situation if we had evidence -- credible evidence that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.
But I must say, I don't think a political campaign is the occasion to declare exactly what we would do in that case. I think that's a matter of such critical national security importance that it ought to be left to those -- the commander in chief, the leaders of the military, the secretary of state -- to make that kind of decision without the heat of a political campaign.
The fact is that we will not enjoy real stability in the Middle East until Saddam Hussein is gone. The Gulf War was a great victory.
And, incidentally, Al Gore and I were two of the 10 Democrats in the Senate who crossed party lines to support President Bush and Secretary Cheney in that war.
LIEBERMAN: And we're both very proud that we did that.
But the war did not end with a total victory, and Saddam Hussein remained there. And as a result, we have had almost 10 years now of instability. We have continued to operate, almost all of this time, military action to enforce a no-fly zone. We have been struggling with Saddam about the inspectors. We ought to do and we are doing everything we can to get those inspectors back in there.
But, in the end, there's not going to be peace until he goes, and that's why I was proud to co-sponsor the Iraq Liberation Act with Senator Trent Lott, why I have kept in touch with the indigenous Iraqi opposition, broad-based, to Saddam Hussein. Vice President Gore met with them earlier this year. We are supporting them in their efforts, and we will continue to support them until the Iraqi people rise up and do what the people of Serbia have done in the last few days: get rid of a despot. We will welcome you back into the family of nations, where you belong.
Senator Lieberman, this question is to you. Many experts are forecasting continuing chaotic oil prices on the world market. Wholesale natural gas prices here in our country are leaping, then there are coal and electricity. Have previous Republican and Democratic Congresses and administrations, including this one, done their job to protect the American people?
LIEBERMAN: Not enough. But this administration and Vice President Gore and I have had both a long-term strategy to develop energy independence and a short-term strategy. In fact, if this administration had been given the amount of funding that it had requested from the Republican Congress, we'd be further along in the implementation of that long-term strategy, which is aimed at developing alternative, cleaner sources of energy; aimed at giving tax credits to individuals and businesses to conserve and use energy more efficiently; aimed at a partnership for a new generation of vehicles with the American automobile industry, which is making great progress and can produce a vehicle that can get 80 miles per gallon.
We also have a short-term strategy to deal with exactly the kind of ups and downs of energy prices. And I know it was controversial, but Al Gore and I believed that it was important in the short term to reach into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, take some of that oil that we have, put it in the market, show the big oil companies and the OPEC oil-producing countries that we've got some resources with which we can fight back. We're not just going to lay back and let them roll over our economy.
And we did it also because gasoline prices were rising and home heating inventories were real low. And our -- both of our tickets agree on LIHEAP, Low-Income Housing Assistance Program, but our opponents really offer no assistance to middle class families who are hit by rising gas prices and a shortage of home heating oil.
LIEBERMAN: The fact is that since the reserve was opened, the price of oil on world markets has dropped $6 a barrel. Now, that's a good result, and I'm proud of it.
SHAW: Mr. Secretary?
CHENEY: Bernie, this is an area where, again, I think Joe and I have fairly significant disagreements. My assessment is that there is no comprehensive energy policy today, that, as a nation, we are in trouble because the administration has not addressed these issues. We have the prospects of brownouts in California. We have potential heating -- home heating oil crisis in the Northeast. We've got gasoline prices rises various other places.
For years now, the administration has talked about reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil, but they haven't done it. In fact, we've gone exactly in the opposite direction. We've got the lowest rate of domestic production of oil now in 46 years. You have to go back to 1954 to find a time when we produced as little oil as we do today. Our imports are an all-time record high. In the month of June, we imported almost 12 million barrels a day. That means we're more subject to the wide fluctuations and swings in price.
We have other problems. We don't have the refinery capacity. We haven't built a new refinery in this country for over 10 years. And the refineries are now operating at 96 or 97 percent of capacity, which means even with more crude available, they're probably not going to be able do to very much by way of producing additional home heating oil for this winter.
We have a long-term -- serious, long-term problem of our growing dependence on foreign sources of energy.
CHENEY: That will always be the case, but we ought to be able to shift the trend and begin to move it in the right direction. We need to do a lot more about generating the capacity for power here at home. We need to get on with the business. And we think we can do it very safely and in an environmentally sound manner.
We don't think that we ought to buy into this false choice that somehow we cannot develop energy without being cautious with the environment. We can, and we've got the technology to do it, and we ought to do it.
We do support the low-income energy assistance program. We think that's very important so that senior citizens, for example, don't suffer this winter. But we need to get on to the business of having a plan to develop our domestic energy resources and producing more supplies. And this administration hasn't produced it.
LIEBERMAN: Bernie? Bernie, could I add a word to that?
SHAW: Mr. Secretary -- Senator, I'm going to continue.
LIEBERMAN: I yield.
SHAW: Thank you, sir.
Your congressional record: You sponsored a bill that said no to oil and gas exploration in Wyoming wilderness areas, your home state. However, you co-sponsored a bill that said yes to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Your explanation?
CHENEY: Well, Bernie, it just shows I've got a balanced approach to how we deal with environmental issues.
SHAW: Not a case of "not in my backyard"?
CHENEY: No, I think we have to make choices. And the Wyoming wilderness bill, frankly, was one of my proudest achievements as a member of Congress. I worked on that with my good friend Al Simpson, for example, for about four years. We set aside a part of Wyoming, nearly a million acres of wilderness, that ought to be separate and not be developed. We think that was important. There are a lot of areas around the country where Governor Bush and I, for example, support restraints.
CHENEY: We support the moratorium on drilling off the coast of California, but there are places where we think we ought to go forward and develop those resources. The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve is one of them. It's on the North Slope. It's right next to Prudhoe Bay. The infrastructure is there to be able to deliver that product to market. We think we can do it, given today's technology, in a way that will not damage the environment, will not permanently mar the countryside at all.
And so what we're looking for, I think, with respect to environmental policy and energy policy is balance. We do have to make choices. We recognize we have to make choices.
But the way you phrased the question, frankly, I welcome, because I think it shows that, in fact, we are trying to pursue a balanced approach. And the suggestion that somehow all we care about is energy development isn't true.
But we do have to get on with developing those resources or we're going to find ourselves ever more dependent on foreign sources. We're going to find that our -- the fact that we don't have an energy policy out there is one of the major storm clouds on the horizon for our economy.
I think if we look for something that could develop, some problem that could arise, that might, in fact, jeopardize our continuing prosperity, it's the possibility that we might find ourselves without adequate supplies of energy in the future, and there'd be no quicker way to shut down our economy than that.
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, we agree on the problem, but we couldn't disagree more on the response to the problem. The problem is accurately stated. No matter how strong we are economically, if we remain dependent on a source of energy that is outside our control, we're not going to be as strong as we should be, and others around the world can effectively yank our chain, and we cannot allow that to continue to happen.
LIEBERMAN: I'm afraid that our opponents' response to this is one-sided, and it is essentially to develop the resources within the United States almost regardless of where.
I'm against drilling in the Arctic refuge. This is one of the most beautiful, pristine places that the good Lord has created on Earth, and it happens, fortunately, to be within the United States of America. It's just not worth it to do that for what seems to be the possibility of six months worth of oil seven to 12 years from now. That's not much of a response to the immediate problem that gasoline consumers and home heating oil customers are facing this winter.
There are more resources within the United States that we can develop. In fact, and this isn't mentioned much and appreciated much, but in the last eight years, drilling for gas on federal lands has gone up 60 percent, and it's been done in an environmentally protective way. In fact, the administration has encouraged the drilling for deep gas and oil that's going on on the western gulf today.
But the answer here is new technology that will create millions of new jobs.
Let me just say this: If we can get three miles more per gallon from our cars, we'll get a million -- we'll save a million barrels of oil a day, which is exactly what the refuge, at its best, in Alaska, would produce.
Now, the choice to me is clear.
LIEBERMAN: We've got to develop fuel cells, alternative energy. We've got to encourage people to conserve...
SHAW: Time. LIEBERMAN: ... and to be efficient.
SHAW: This question is for you, Senator.
We all know Social Security is the backbone of the retirement system in our nation. Can either of you pledge tonight categorically that no one will lose benefits under your plans?
LIEBERMAN: Yes, indeed. I can pledge to the American people categorically that no one will lose benefits under our plan for Social Security as far forward as 2054.
And let me come back and say, Bernie, that Al Gore and I view Social Security as probably the best thing the government did in the second half -- or the last century. It has created a floor under which seniors cannot fall. And so many of them depend on it for their basic living, for their livelihood, it is critically important to protect it.
That's why Al and I have committed to putting that Social Security surplus in a lockbox, not touching it. And that's what allows us to keep Social Security solvent to 2054.
Our opponents have an idea for privatizing Social Security that will jeopardize Social Security payments to recipients. And I looked at this idea, and if I may use an oil industry analogy, which is to say that sometimes -- as you know, Dick, better than I -- you've got to drill deep to discover whether there's oil in a well.
LIEBERMAN: For a while, I was drilling into this idea of privatization of Social Security, and the deeper I got, the drier the well became. And it seemed to me at the end that what it was going to do was dry up Social Security.
It requires taking as much as a trillion dollars out of the Social Security fund. The independent analysts have said that would put the fund out of money in 2023, or if it's not out of money, benefits will have to be cut by over 50 percent. That's just not worth doing.
Al Gore and I are going to guarantee Social Security and add to it the retirement savings plan that I mentioned earlier, which will help middle class families looking forward have not only Social Security but a superb extra retirement account as well. Social Security-plus from us, with all respect, Social Security-minus from the Bush-Cheney ticket.
CHENEY: You won't be surprised, Bernie, if I disagree with Joe's description of our program.
The fact of the matter is the Social Security system's in trouble. It's been a fantastic program. It's been there for 65 years. It's provided benefits for senior citizens over that period of time, for my parents. It means a great deal to millions of Americans. And Governor Bush and I want to make absolutely certain that the first thing we do is guarantee the continuation of those payments, those benefits, and keep those promises that were made.
But if you look down the road, and if you're say 30 years old today, and I have two daughters about that age, they seriously question whether or not there will be any system left for them. And that's because the demographics that are at work out there. And it's almost an iron law: We know how many people there are. We know when they're going to reach retirement age.
CHENEY: We know when that baby boom generation's coming along. We know how long people are likely to live after that. That's going to drive the system into bankruptcy unless we reform it and deal with it.
The reform we would like to offer is to allow our young people to begin to take a portion of the payroll tax, 2 percent of it, and invest it in a personal retirement account. That does several things.
First of all, it gives them a stake in the Social Security system. That becomes their property. They own it. They can pass it on to their kids if they want. They don't have that kind of equity in Social Security today.
Secondly, we can generate a higher return off that investment that you get -- than you get in the existing system. Today, you get about a 2 percent return in your -- what you pay in to Social Security; we can generate, we think, at least 6 percent. All the evidence shows at least three times what we're able to get now.
And long term, by generating a bigger return, we'll put additional funds into the system that will help us survive that crunch that's otherwise going to hit in the future.
Bottom line is, there's a choice here. With respect, frankly, to Al Gore and Joe's plan, they don't reform Social Security at all. They add another huge obligation on top of it that future generations will have to pay. They don't touch the basic system itself. They don't reform it. They don't save it. We have a plan to do that and a plan to give our young people choice and more control over their own lives.
Mr. Secretary, this question is for you. Washington is a cauldron of political bickering and partisanship. The American people, gentlemen, have had enough. How would you elevate political discourse and purpose?
CHENEY: Well, I think there are a number of ways to do it. First of all, I agree with your assessment.
CHENEY: I think -- I've been out of Washington for the last eight years, Bernie, and spent the last five years running a company, global concern, and have been out in the private sector, building a business, hiring people, creating jobs. I've got a different perspective on Washington than I had when I was there in the past. I'm proud of my service in Washington for 25 years, but also proud that I had the opportunity to go out and get a different experience.
And you're absolutely right: People are fed up. They've had enough with the bickering and the partisanship that seems to characterize the debate that goes on in the nation's capital.
I've seen it done differently, though. I've seen it done differently in Texas. I've watched George Bush. And one of the reasons I was eager to sign on when he asked me to become his running mate is because I've been so tremendously impressed with what he's done as the governor of Texas.
He came in when he had a legislature completely controlled by the other party. He managed to reach across partisan lines and unite Republicans and Democrats and independents, put them to work to achieve good things for the state of Texas, partly because he didn't point the finger of blame, looking for scapegoats; he was quick to share the credit.
We ended up, as a result of that activity, at the end of his first term the top Democrat in the state, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, endorsed the Republican governor, George Bush, for reelection.
It is possible to change the tone. It is possible to get people to work together and to begin to focus on achieving results. But I think it's going to take new leadership. I don't think you can do it, with all due respect to Al Gore, with somebody who spent all the last 24 years in that Washington environment and who campaigns on the basis of castigating others, of pointing the finger of blame at others in terms of blaming business or various and sundry groups for our failings.
CHENEY: I think you have to be able to reach out and work together and build coalitions. I think George W. Bush has done that in Texas and can do it at the national level.
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, you're absolutely right. There's too much partisanship in Washington. It puzzles me. You know, you'd think that people in public life and politics would want to do what would make them popular. And yet, too often people in both parties seem to act in a way that brings down the institutions of government and each of us individually, and it's a shame.
I have tried very hard in my career to call them as I see them and work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get things done. And I'm proud of my record in that regard, and I certainly think that would be an asset that I could bring to the vice presidency, should I be fortunate enough to be elected.
I mean, in my Senate career I've worked with Bob Dole, for instance, on Bosnia, and I worked with John McCain on cultural values. I worked with Connie Mack on foreign policy. I worked with Don Nickles on the International Religious Freedom Act. If I go on much longer, I'm going to get in trouble with my own party.
But the fact is that's the way thing get done, and I'm proud of those partnerships.
And let me say a word about Al Gore. In his years in the House and the Senate, he formed similar bipartisan partnerships. If you look back over the last eight years, the most significant accomplishments of this administration in which Al Gore was centrally involved were the result, most of them, of bipartisan agreements.
LIEBERMAN: I mean, after all, the Welfare Reform Act, which Al Gore promised to lead the effort on to get people off of welfare, to set time limits, to get people to enjoy the dignity of work, that was a bipartisan act that was adopted.
The Anti-Crime Act, which has lowered crime, or helped to lower crime more than 20 percent in our country today, also was bipartisan. And then the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which was critical to getting our economy to the point, and our government to the point, of the unprecedented surplus we enjoy today also was bipartisan, and Al Gore was involved.
So I'd say that's exactly the kind of bipartisan leadership that he and I can bring to Washington to get things done.
CHENEY: With all due respect, Joe, there is just an awful lot of evidence that there has not been any bipartisan leadership out of this administration or out of Al Gore.
And the fact is, the Medicare problems have not been addressed; we've had eight years of promises on prescription drugs and no action. The Social Security problem has not been addressed; we've had eight years of talk and no action. The educational problem has not been addressed; we've have eight years of talk and no action.
Now, they've been in a position of responsibility in the White House with a powerful interest, if you will, in Washington, D.C., and they've been unable to work with others.
And Medicare is a classic example. You had the Breaux commission, a good effort at a bipartisan solution for Medicare. Whether you bought or didn't buy the answer that was generated, the fact is the administration helped set it up and then pulled the plug on it because they'd rather have the issue than they would the solution.
This administration has not led from a bipartisan standpoint. And I really do think that Al Gore's record in this regard isn't very good.
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, Dick Cheney must be one of the few people in America who does -- who thinks that nothing has been accomplished in the last eight years.
LIEBERMAN: I mean, the fact is that promises were made and promises were kept. I mean, has Al Gore -- did Al Gore make promises in 1992? Absolutely. Did he deliver? Big time, if I may put it that way. And that's the record.
Look at the 22 million new jobs. Look at the 4 million new businesses. Look at the lower interest rates, low rate of inflation, high rate of growth.
I think if you asked most people in America today that famous question that Ronald Reagan asked, "Are you better off today than you were eight years ago?" most people would say, "Yes."
And I'm pleased to see, Dick, from the newspapers, that you're better off than you were eight years ago, too.
CHENEY: And most of it -- and I can tell you, Joe, that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.
SHAW: This question's to you, but...
LIEBERMAN: I can see my wife, and I think she's thinking, "Gee, I wish he would go out into the private sector."
CHENEY: Well, I'm going to try to help you do that, Joe.
LIEBERMAN: No, I think you've done so well there, I want to keep you there.
SHAW: Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman, you are black for this question. Imagine yourself an African-American. You become the target of racial profiling, either while walking or driving.
SHAW: African-American Joseph Lieberman, what would you do about it?
LIEBERMAN: I'd be outraged. It is such an assault on the basic promise that America makes that the law will treat individuals as individuals regardless of their status -- that is to say their race, their nationality, their gender, their sexual orientation, et cetera, et cetera. And the sad fact is that racial profiling occurs in this country. I have a few African-American friends who have gone through this horror, and, you know, it makes me want to, kind of, hit the wall because it is such an assault on their humanity and their citizenship. We can't tolerate it anymore.
That's why I've supported legislation, in the first instance, in Congress because it's the most we could get done to do hard studies, to make the case of the extent to which racial profiling is occurring in our country.
But it's also why I'm so proud that Al Gore said two things. First we would issue, if we're fortunate enough to be elected, an executive order prohibiting racial profiling, and secondly, the first civil rights act we would -- legislation we would send to Congress would be a national ban on racial profiling. It is just wrong. It is un-American. And to think that in the 21st century this kind of nonsense is still going on, we've got to stop it. And the only way to stop it, is through the law.
LIEBERMAN: I mean, the law, after all, is meant to express our values and our aspirations for our society. And our values are violently contradicted by the kind of racial profiling that I know exists.
And I just had a friend a while ago, Bernie, who works in the government, works at the White House, African-American, stopped, surrounded by police, for no other cause than anyone can determine than the color of his skin. That can't be in America anymore.
SHAW: Mr. Secretary?
CHENEY: Well, Bernie, I'd like to answer your question to the best of my ability, but I don't think I can understand fully what it would be like. Try hard to put myself in that position, imagine what it would have been like, but, of course, I've been part of the majority and never been part of a minority group. But it has to be a horrible experience.
It's the sense of anger and frustration and rage that would go with knowing that the only reason you were stopped, the only reason you were arrested, was because of your color of your skin would make me extraordinarily angry. And I'm not sure how I would respond.
I think that we have to recognize that while we've made enormous progress in the U.S. in racial relations, and we have come a very long way, we still have a long way to go; that we still have not only the problems we're talking about here tonight in terms of the problems you mentioned of profiling, but beyond that, we still have an achievement gap in education, income differentials, differences in lifespan.
We still have, I think, a society that -- where we haven't done enough yet to live up to that standard that we'd all like to live up to, I think, in terms of equality of opportunity, that we judge people as individuals. As Martin Luther King said, we ought to judge people on the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.
I would hope that we can continue to make progress in that regard in the years ahead.
SHAW: Senator, sexual orientation. Should a male who loves a male and a female who loves a female have all -- all -- the constitutional rights enjoyed by every American citizen?
LIEBERMAN: Very current and difficult question, and I've been thinking about it, and I want to explain what my thoughts have been.
Maybe I should begin this answer by going back to the beginning of the country and the Declaration of Independence, which says right there at the outset that all of us are created equal and that we're endowed, not by any bunch of politicians or philosophers, but by our creator with those inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
At the beginning of our history, that promise, that ideal, was not realized or experienced by all Americans. But over time since then we have -- we have extended the orbit of that promise. And in our time at the frontier of that effort is extending those kinds of rights to gay and lesbian Americans who are citizens of this country and children of the same awesome god, just as much as any of the rest of us are.
That's why I have been an original co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which aims to prevent gay and lesbian Americans who are otherwise qualified from being discriminated against in a workplace. And I've sponsored other pieces of legislation and other -- taken other actions that carry out that ideal.
The question you pose is a difficult one, for this reason: It confronts or challenges the traditional notion of marriage as being limited to a heterosexual couple, which I support.
LIEBERMAN: But I must say, I'm thinking about this because I have friends who are in gay and lesbian partnerships who have said to me, "Isn't it unfair that we don't have similar legal rights to inheritance, to visitation when one of the partners is ill, to health care benefits?" And that's why I'm thinking about it. And my mind is open to taking some action that will address those elements of unfairness while respecting the traditional religious and civil institution of marriage.
SHAW: Mr. Secretary?
CHENEY: This is a tough one, Bernie. The fact of the matter is, we live in a free society and freedom means freedom for everybody. We don't get to choose, and shouldn't be able to choose, and say, "You get to live free, but you don't."
And I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard.
The next step then, of course, is the question you asked of whether or not there ought to be some kind of official sanction, if you will, of the relationship or if these relationships should be treated the same way a conventional marriage is. That's a tougher problem. That's not a slam dunk.
I think the fact of the matter, of course, is that matter is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.
I try to be open-minded about it as much as I can and tolerant of those relationships.
CHENEY: And like Joe, I also wrestle with the extent to which there ought to be legal sanction of those relationships. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.
SHAW: It occurs to me that your moderator has committed a booboo. I asked the racial profiling question of you; you responded. And then I asked the sexual orientation question of you. I should not have done that in terms of rotation. Gentlemen, I apologize.
LIEBERMAN: We forgive you.
SHAW: Thank you.
LIEBERMAN: You're human, like we are.
SHAW: Mr. Secretary, vice president of the United States of America, what would you bring to the job that your opponent wouldn't?
CHENEY: We clearly come from different political perspectives. Joe is a Democrat from New England; I'm a Republican from the West, from Wyoming. And I think that weighs into it to some extent. Clearly, we're both in the positions we're in because of our personal relationships with our principals.
I think the areas that I would bring are the things that Governor Bush emphasized when he picked me: that I had been White House chief of staff and ran the White House under President Ford; that I had spent 10 years in the House, eight of that in the leadership; served as secretary of defense; and then had significant experience in the private sector. And I think that where there are differences between Joe and myself in terms of background and experience, I clearly have spent a lot of time in executive positions, running large organizations, both in private business as well as in government.
CHENEY: And that's a set of qualifications that Governor Bush found attractive when he selected me. I'll leave it at that. SHAW: Senator?
LIEBERMAN: Bernie, I have great respect for Dick Cheney. I don't agree with a lot of things he said in this campaign, but I have great respect for him. He was a very distinguished secretary of defense. And I don't have anything negative to say about him.
So I want to say with the humility that is required to respond to this statement, that I think what I would bring to the office of the vice presidency is a lifetime's experience, growing up in a working- class family, having the opportunity to go to a great public school system, then to go onto college, and then to be drawn, really, by President Kennedy as well, as the values of service my family gave me, into public life, wanting to make a difference.
And I've had extraordinary opportunities, thanks again to those folks back home in Connecticut, as a state senator, as an attorney general fighting to enforce the law to protect them and the environment and as consumers and to litigate on behalf of human rights, and for the last 12 years as a member of the Senate of the United States focusing on national security questions, environmental protection, economic growth and values.
But perhaps what I most bring is a friendship and shared values and shared priorities with Al Gore.
LIEBERMAN: I have tremendous respect for Al Gore. I've known him for 15 years. He's an outstanding person, as a public official and as a private person. His life is built on his faith; it's devoted to his family. He volunteered for service in Vietnam. From the beginning in Congress, he's been willing to take on the big interests and fight for average people. As vice president, he's been, I think, the most effective vice president in the history of the United States.
And he's got the right program to use the prosperity all the American people have earned to help particularly hard-working, middle class families raise up their children to enjoy a better life. I think that's what this is all about, why I'm so proud to be his running mate.
SHAW: And because of my booboo, I'm going to direct this question again to Secretary Cheney.
Have you noticed a contradiction or hypocritical shift by your opponent on positions and issues since he was nominated?
CHENEY: Well, we've been trying very hard to keep this on a high plane, Bernie.
LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Bernie.
(LAUGHTER) CHENEY: I do have a couple of concerns, where I liked the old Joe Lieberman better than I do the new Joe Lieberman. Let me see if I can put it in those terms.
Joe established, I thought, an outstanding record in his work on this whole question of violence in the media and the kinds of materials that were being peddled to our children, and many of us on the Republican side admired him for that.
CHENEY: There is, I must say, the view now, that having joined with Al Gore on the ticket on the other side, that that depth of conviction that we had admired before isn't quite as strong as it was, perhaps, in the past. The temptation, on the one hand, to criticize the activities of the industry, as was pointed out recently in the Federal Trade Commission, where they're taking, clearly, material meant for adults and selling it to our children, at the same time they are participating in fund-raising events with some of the people responsible for that activity, has been a source of concern for many of us.
We were especially disturbed, Joe, at a recent fund-raiser you attended where there was a comedian who got up and criticized George Bush's religion. And I know you're not responsible for having uttered any words of criticism of his religion, but to some extent, my concern would be, frankly, that you haven't been as consistent as you had been in the past, that a lot of your good friends like Bill Bennett and others of us, who'd admired your firmness of purpose over the years, have felt that you're not quite the crusader for that cause that you once were.
LIEBERMAN: Well, Bernie, you'll not be surprised to hear that I disagree. First, let me talk about that joke about religion, which I found very distasteful. And, believe me, if anybody has devoted his life to respecting the role of religion in American life and understands that Americans, from the beginning of our history, have turned to God for strength and purpose, it's me.
LIEBERMAN: And any offense that was done, I apologize for. And I thought that humor was unacceptable.
Let me come to the question of Hollywood and then answer the general question.
Al Gore and I have felt for a long time, first as parents, and then only second as public officials, that we cannot let America's parents stand alone in this competition that they feel they're in with Hollywood to raise their own kids and give their kids the faith and the values that they want to give them. And I've been a consistent crusader on that behalf.
John McCain and I actually requested the Federal Trade Commission report that came out three or four weeks ago which proved conclusively that the entertainment industry was marketing adult-rated products to our children. Now that is just unacceptable. And one finding was that they were actually using 10- to 12-year-olds to test screen adult-rated products.
When that report came out, Al Gore and I said to the entertainment industry, "Stop it. And if you don't stop it in six months, we're going to ask the Federal Trade Commission to take action against you." There was no similar strong response from our opponents.
We repeated that message when we went to Los Angeles. I repeat it today. We will not stop until the entertainment industry stops marketing its products to our children.
Unfortunately, I'm running out of time, but let me just say that Al Gore and I...
SHAW: You're out.
LIEBERMAN: I'm out. Maybe I can come back to it.
SHAW: No, please continue. You have about 10 seconds, pardon the interruption.
LIEBERMAN: All right. Al Gore and I agree on most everything. We disagree on some things, and he said to me from the beginning, "Be yourself. That's why I chose you. Don't change a single position you have." And I have not changed a single position since Al Gore nominated me to be his vice president.
SHAW: Gentlemen, now closing statements. A prior coin toss has determined that you begin, Senator Lieberman.
LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Bernie. That went very quickly.
Thank you, Bernie, and thanks, Dick Cheney, for a very good debate.
I'm told that tens of millions of people have been watching this debate tonight. I must say that I wish one more person were here to watch it, and that's my dad, who died 15 years ago. If my dad were here, I would have the opportunity to tell him that he was right when he taught me that in America, if you have faith, work hard and play by the rules, there is nothing you cannot achieve. And here I am. Even the son of a man who started working the night shift on a bakery truck can end up being a candidate for vice president of the United States. That says a lot about the character of this nation and the goodness of you, the American people.
I will tell you that Hadassah and I have traveled around this country in the last couple of months and met thousands and thousands of parents just like our moms and dads: hard-working, middle class people, paying their taxes, doing the jobs that keep the country running, trying so hard to teach their kids right from wrong, and believing in their hearts that their kids can make it.
LIEBERMAN: And I agree with them. But to make it, they need a leader who will stand up and fight for them, for good education, the best education in the world; for a sound retirement system; for prescription drug benefits for their parents; and for a government that is fiscally responsible, balances the budget, keeps interest rates down so that they can afford to buy a home or to send their kids to college. To me, Al Gore is that leader and will be that kind of president.
You know for 224 years, Americans have dreamed bigger dreams and tried bolder solutions than any other people on Earth. Now is not the time to settle for less than we can be. As good as things are today, Al Gore and I believe that with your help and God's help, we can make the future of this good and blessed country even better.
Thank you. God bless you and good night.
SHAW: Mr. Secretary?
CHENEY: Well, Bernie, I want to thank you and Joe as well. I've enjoyed the debate this evening. And I also want to thank the folks here at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. They've really done a tremendous job of making this possible.
This is a very important decision we're going to make on November 7. We really have a fundamental choice between whether or not we continue with our old ways of big government, high taxes and ever more intrusive bureaucracy, or whether we take a new course for a new era. Governor Bush and I want to pursue that new course.
We want to reform the Social Security system to guarantee that benefits will be there for our retired folks, as well as make it possible for our young people to invest a portion of their payroll tax into a retirement account that they'll control and give them greater control over their own lives.
CHENEY: We want to reform the Medicare system again to make certain the benefits are there for our senior citizens, but it's also to provide prescription drug coverage for them and to give them a range of choices in terms of the kind of insurance they have.
We want to reform the education system. We want to restore our public schools to the greatness that they once represented, so that every parent has the opportunity to choose what's best for their child and so that every child has an opportunity to share in the American dream.
We also want to reform the tax code. We think it's very important, now that we have a surplus, that a portion of that surplus go back to the people who earned it. It's not the government's money, it's your money. You're entitled to it, and we'd like to see to it that we provide tax relief for everybody who pays taxes.
Finally, we think it's very important to rebuild the U.S. military. The military is in trouble, the trends are in the wrong direction. They're the finest men and women in uniform that you'll find any place in the world, but they deserve our support, they deserve the resources that we need to provide for them, and they deserve good leadership.
George Bush is the man to do this. I've seen him do it in Texas. What we need is to be able to reach across the aisle, put together coalitions of Republicans and Democrats, and build the kinds of coalitions that'll get something done finally in Washington.
George Bush is a good man, an honorable man, a man of great integrity. He'll make a first-rate president.
SHAW: Secretary Cheney, Senator Lieberman, your debate now joins American political history. We thank you.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Bernie.
SHAW: Well, you hear the appreciation here. And our thanks also to Centre College, the community of Danville, and of course the Bluegrass State, Kentucky.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join my colleague, moderator Jim Lehrer, for the next presidential debate, next Wednesday night, at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
For the Commission on Presidential Debates, I'm Bernard Shaw. Good night from Danville, Kentucky.
WOODRUFF: Well, they started by saying that they would avoid personal attacks, and for 90 minutes they did that, they kept the gloves on. And it was a surprisingly polite, and gracious exchange with just the slightest touch of humor. They did have some disagreements. They disagreed on tax cuts. They disagreed on the readiness of the American military, on the state of public education in this country, on the adequacy of U.S. energy policy, but they were also areas where they agreed.
They agreed on Saddam Hussein, and what should be done about him. They agreed on rights for gays and lesbians, at least as far as the discussion went. One of the few lines that drew a chuckle early on was when Joe Lieberman got a little bit carried away, if you will, Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider, with the numbers talking about the various tax credits, and the Gore plan, and Dick Cheney looked over at him said, you know, it'd take a CPA to understand that. A little bit later there was more humor, but that was about it for the first hour.
SCHNEIDER: A little going on when Lieberman got a lick in at Cheney's remark when Bush said something derogatory about a reporter and Cheney said, yeah, big time. You noticed Lieberman used the phrase "big time" to remind people of that. GREENFIELD: The story of this debate, if I may paraphrase the Sherlock Holmes story, is the attack dogs did not bark in the night. We were led to expect that we might hear Joe Lieberman go after George Bush's Texas record on the environment and on education. Nothing. We were led to believe that Dick Cheney might have some serious things to say about Al Gore's credibility, and the whole notion of scandal and character in the White House. Nothing. In part, because our Bernard Shaw gave them questions that required them to talk about issues, did not give questions that opened up the more personal line of attack.
The one thing I think that might have surprised some people who have seen Dick Cheney as an unhappy warrior on the stump is how relaxed and how effective he was in this conversational mode. When Joe Lieberman said, you've done a lot -- you are a better off than you were eight years ago and Cheney said that the government had nothing to do with it. And Lieberman says, I see my wife, she wants me to go to private sector and Dick Cheney says, we're help you do that, For a guy who's not had a reputation as a glib spokesman that was...
WOODRUFF: He had about the only three funny lines of the night, where he got the last word.
SCHNEIDER: Well, he did. Look, there's one word for this debate, and the word is classy. This was really the best kind of presidential debate, not a vice presidential debate which you expect to be nasty and slashing. It was the moderator, Bernie Shaw, who tried his very best to provoke them into saying something negative, and even when they did they were fairly respectful. I liked when Cheney said I like the old Joe Lieberman better than the new Joe Lieberman.
Cheney did one thing that I thought was interesting, something that George Bush didn't really do in the presidential debate. He tried to make the case for change, I thought that was his theme. He did it in his closing statement. He said we have to change our oil dependency, our policy towards Saddam Hussein is failing. We need tax reform. We have to change our educational policy. And he seemed especially passionate about military reform. And that's where they disagreed with each other the most, the state of our military preparedness.
He and Bush are selling change. He made a strong case for that, but right now, we are not seeing lot of voters who believe that there should be basic changes in the country.
WOODRUFF: You know, Cheney is the one clearly with less debate experience. As he pointed out himself tonight, he is the one who's been out in the private sector for a number of years. The only debates he had done in the past were when he was serving in the Congress. But for all of that lack of experience, he came across, I thought, as very relaxed. He was certainly articulate. He was at ease in this format. I thought it was less intense atmosphere, a much less intense atmosphere, than what we saw Tuesday night in Boston.
GREENFIELD: And one of the questions...
WOODRUFF: This was gentleman-like. GREENFIELD: And the question is, next week, George Bush and Al Gore are going to sit down at almost that same table. And I think it's, you know, it's going to be very interesting to see whether the decorum that we heard tonight is going to be maintained or whether or not what happened in the first debate at the lectern is going to happen here, around this table with each side saying, wait a minute, wait a minute, you're misrepresenting me, I want another word in.
SCHNEIDER: You know what I liked? There were very few cheap shots. There were some jibes, but very few cheap shots. It was classy. This was a serious debate and there was a welcome absence of political spin, even on a question which was easy to manipulate, like the question Bernie asked about gay marriage. Both candidates said they were seriously wrestling with that as issue of equity.
SCHNEIDER: They didn't change views, but they indicated that this was a serious moral issue and they were reconsidering their positions. How many times have you heard politicians say things like that.
WOODRUFF: It was very good.
GREENFIELD: I just have one question. Are the people who demand that these debates be high-minded, and leave aside the scripted one- liners, going to find this debate compelling, or they are going to say it wasn't great entertainment.
WOODRUFF: Well, it may not have been -- there may have been an absence of political spin in the debate, but there is a spin room very close to that stage that we are looking at right now, where we are seeing, Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney act like old friends, there. We're watching them smile at one another, put their arms around one another.
GREENFIELD: They look like they're running mates...
WOODRUFF: We are going to Pat Neal, who is in the spin room, for a little reporting on the spin as we watch the scene there on the stage.
Pat, are you with us?
NEAL: Oh, yes, Judy. Well, as the action has ended there in the debate hall, it's just starting to begin here in the spin room. Just moments after the debate was over, all of these surrogates came out to start making sure that the media, if they missed some point that one of the candidates said in the hall, they will make it here for them.
We talked to John Engler, who is the governor of Michigan briefly. He said he felt like Cheney actually showed tonight why Bush picked him. You can see behind us, you've got Chris Dodds standing by, waiting to go on to talk to people. Doug Hattway here of the Gore campaign talking about how Joe Lieberman made the point why Gore's middle class tax cuts are so important. Now even before the debate was over, just 20 minutes into this debate, the paper started coming out from all of them, all the pages of all different positions to make sure, if you didn't get the point from candidate there, you will get it here -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Jeanne Meserve, you are also very close by.
MESERVE: I am, Judy. I'm still in the debate hall where people are still filing out. You know, people were being honest with me before this debate about what they wanted. They certainly got it. They said they wanted a serious discussion of the issues. They got it. They said specifically they wanted to hear more about the competing proposals on tax cuts and education. They got that. They said they wanted to hear more about these men. They wanted to get a sense of what sort of principles and standards they have. They got that, too. And they said they didn't want personal attacks. And as you have all observed, they didn't get that either. I just turned around talked to a couple members of audience, asked them their reaction. They said they were very pleased. One of them said they both made me very proud to be an American.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right, we're continuing to watch -- Thank you, Jeanne Meserve. We're continuing to watch the scene there on the stage, I would say, Jeff and Bill, a little bit different from the other night. It looks like -- looks like one thing, there is a bigger crowd up there on the stage. I see Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater there, standing near Joe Lieberman.
You know, you always have, after a debate, the friends and family members of the candidates rush to their side to tell what a terrific job they did. And we can assume that that's what everybody is hearing. Nobody is saying, hey, wait a minute why didn't you make such and such a point?
GREENFIELD: It would be -- that happens 24 and 48 hours later, in phone calls when a guy can talk to a reporter without having his or her face on camera, saying, you know I really didn't like what my guy did. But I don't -- it's hard to imagine that either -- that partisans of either side are going to feel particularly disappointed in what happened because it was a debate where they stuck so close to the issues, were so deferential to each other. I think if there is any criticism that people are going to hear it's that we didn't get the less high-minded dimension of this race, which sometimes does affect campaigns. I mean, if the Republicans wanted to make character and credibility an issue, the more intense ideologues, I think, might be a little unhappy with Dick Cheney. And likewise on the left.
SCHNEIDER: I can hear what they were would say right now. They would say Dick Cheney didn't show enough fight. He is the vice presidential nominee. He is supposed to get out there and show some fight. There should have been more of that.
And the same with Joe Lieberman. He didn't show enough fight. Look, they agreed on a lot of things. I imagine a lot of people -- you were kidding about this, but I think it is true -- a lot of people who are watching this debate probably figured: These guys would make a good ticket, whether it's Cheney-Lieberman or Lieberman-Cheney.
The two of them: This is what Americans want. And I was particularly struck by their discussion of bipartisanship. They both promoted the top of their ticket as able to work in a bipartisan way. Cheney talked about Bush's record in Texas, reaching across party lines. And Lieberman, quite correctly, pointed out that most of the major achievements of the Clinton-Gore administration have been bipartisan achievements, like trade, NAFTA, the welfare reform and the balanced budget.
WOODRUFF: That's right. The politeness was not just in the -- in the way they talked and they treated each other. It was also in their language, in the language that they used.
GREENFIELD: Lieberman did not mention NAFTA, I think, because they're trying to court labor this year.
SCHNEIDER: That's true. That's true. I stand corrected.
WOODRUFF: We -- we are going to take a short break. We're continuing to watch the candidates and their friends and family on stage. When we come back, we are going to hear from the chief strategist of the Bush campaign, Karl Rove, and then from one of the top strategists for Al Gore, Tad Devine.
While we're doing this -- taking a break -- you can go to cnn.com. You can make some comments on the debate. And you can vote on who you think came out on top.
WOODRUFF: The aftermath, the scene there at Centre College on Danville, Kentucky. The vice-presidential debate ended, what, about 12 minutes ago? And the principals have left the stage. But the activity is very much alive in the room right next door. And those color bars don't have anything to do with that, by the way .
There are all sorts of reporters and people with the various campaigns who were there telling the reporters what they think happened.
I think we still have a signal from Danville, am I right? They are in the -- yes we do. And there is Karl Rove, who is the campaign manager for George W. Bush. Sorry, you are in Austin.
Karl Rove, thank you for being with us.
KARL ROVE, BUSH CHIEF STRATEGIST: Sure enough.
WOODRUFF: You know, some of us, Karl, have been sitting here in the last couple of minutes saying this debate was so polite it was almost antiseptic. In that atmosphere, was there really a winner tonight? ROVE: Well, I think the American people won by having a good opportunity to gauge these two men. And they, I think especially, walked away with a firm recollection of why they thought so highly of Dick Cheney during the Gulf War. He was authentic and comfortable and relaxed and direct and clearly in command tonight. I thought it was a wonderful evening for the American people.
Sorry you didn't get the World Wrestling Federation smackdown or whatever you might have been looking for there, but I think this is what the American people were looking for.
WOODRUFF: No, I think some of us were thinking about previous vice presidential debates where the gloves came off and there was a little more rough an exchange.
Where are we left in this presidential race right now, Karl Rove, after tonight's exchange, after Tuesday night's debate?
ROVE: Well, I think what we're going to see is that the effect of these debates is going to be cumulative. At the end of these four debates, three presidential and one vice presidential, I think people are going to take a, you know, sort of assessment, if you will, of the two tickets and make up their minds with some finality perhaps.
But I think the effect of any given debate, tonight's debate or Tuesday night's debate, is going to be small. What's going to happen is the cumulative effect.
And tonight I think some of the most important things that happened were small that'll grow with time. For example, one of the most interesting things was the exchange tonight on, of all places, the former Republic of -- the former Yugoslav Republic. Because on Tuesday night, you remember, Al Gore slammed Governor Bush for suggesting that the Russians be brought into it, and Dick Cheney tonight made the very important point that since Tuesday the administration had done exactly what George W. Bush suggested, which was reach out to the Russians and attempt to get their involvement on a positive way in the -- in settling this controversy.
WOODRUFF: But isn't it fair to say that, as of Tuesday night, the Russians had a different point of view from the Clinton-Gore administration?
ROVE: Well, but that was the governor's point, that the -- that it was important to reach out to them, to make assessments as to whether or not they could be brought around and persuaded of the American position or the West's position in this regard, and that's apparently what's happening. So, you know, Al Gore, who slammed this so strongly on Tuesday night and was so dismissive of it either doesn't have much in the way of councils in the -- influence in the councils of the administration or he was trying to score debating points and was a little bit out of the loop.
WOODRUFF: What about the other question -- one of the questions that's come out of Tuesday night is that some people have observed that, for all the good points that Governor Bush made in that debate, there still are questions about whether he is able to deal with some of the policy, the material that came up in the questions and that Vice President Gore showed a comfort level with that Governor Bush seemed to be struggling with?
ROVE: Well, people saw Governor Bush was a plain-spoken, direct person, they clearly saw that he had the stature to be president. You saw the response in the polls was that people, even if they felt that Al Gore, quote, "won" the debate that night, felt that Governor Bush had risen further in their estimation than Al Gore did.
And we also had this troubling thing, Al Gore's glibness on Tuesday night does not hide the fact that he has a tendency to exaggerate, whether it is his -- the moving visit that he had to the fires in west Texas with FEMA Director James Witt or whether it was that moving story that he told about the Sarasota schoolgirl who had no desk, which turned out not to be true. He's just got a problem with being able to keep on the straight and narrow.
GREENFIELD: Karl, it's...
ROVE: Judy, I'm not going to be able to hear your question. I keep getting some feedback here in my...
GREENFIELD: Well, let's try -- can you hear me...
ROVE: I can hear you, Bill.
GREENFIELD: This is Jeff Greenfield, hi.
GREENFIELD: We saw Dick Cheney tonight humorous, relaxed, in a conversational setting. For the last two and a half months we've watched him reading books in kindergarten to school kids, standing in front of lecterns before cheering crowds, and sometimes looking as though he were in the middle of a dental appointment. Have you guys been misusing him strategically, not putting him in forums like this?
ROVE: Oh, no. Look, we've put him in as many of these forums as we can. As you know, he gives a great speech, he's wonderful with editorial boards, he's terrific giving interviews, he's very good in sort of the kind of format that you saw tonight, and he's also a pretty good darn campaigner, too, it's just that it takes a little while; if the last time he ran for office was 12 years ago, it takes a while for you to get your sea legs back.
But throughout all of this I think people who have watched him on the campaign trail have walked away with one very strong impression: That this is exactly the kind of person who Governor Bush should have picked, somebody who can clearly step in to be president if called upon and somebody who will be a constant source of good advice and counsel to the president.
GREENFIELD: But do you...
ROVE: This is a man of great ability and it just shines through so strongly.
GREENFIELD: One of the things that doesn't seem to have happened yet is at a time of -- I guess it's been your fundamental problem you've had to face -- in a time of peace and prosperity, when people feel that things are going relatively well, it's much harder to make the case for change than it would have been, say, in 1980 or 1992. Did anything happen tonight to change that?
ROVE: Well, yes. In fact, two respects.
One is, I think you saw more of the case for change emerge tonight on education where Joe Lieberman defended the current state of education and said there's not a problem, we've closed the gap, everything's fine; and I think Dick Cheney made a very articulate case for why there is a necessity for change, because the gap between students in our poor schools and our wealthy schools has not closed, reading scores have stagnated, math scores have stagnated, our standing in the world versus other industrialized countries has stagnated, that we need new change.
He made a similar case on energy policy, where this administration has had no energy policy. He talked about the need for a tax cut. He talked about spending.
He talked about the -- you know, in fact, in a humorous way, the issue of prosperity came up and Cheney was able to make the case for change. And remember, Lieberman said, Well, you know, we're responsible for creating all the jobs; and Dick Cheney, in a very humorous vein, made a very important point, which is government doesn't create wealth, government doesn't create jobs, government creates an environment in which jobs and entrepreneurs can flourish, and this is an important long-term effect of government policy, we're living off of successes of 10 and 20 and 30 years ago, and it's a time for us to have leadership that understands where prosperity in this country comes from, and it's not from government.
WOODRUFF: All right. Karl Rove, campaign manager for George W. Bush. Thank you very much for being with us.
ROVE: Great, Judy. Don't get me into trouble, I'm the campaign strategist. Joe Allbaugh, who's got about 100 pounds and about 12 inches on me...
WOODRUFF: Uh oh.
ROVE: ... is the campaign manager.
WOODRUFF: Well, if you're in trouble, I'm in trouble big time.
ROVE: All right.
WOODRUFF: Thank you.
Coming up in a few minutes, we are going to talk with Tad Devine, who is a campaign strategist for Vice President Gore. But right now, we want to go to the two senators we spoke with before this debate -- former senator, that is, Alan Simpson of Wyoming and current Senator Chris Dodd of the state of Connecticut.
Senator Dodd, to you first. We have just listened to Karl Rove say that Dick Cheney far and away made the more effective case tonight for why George W. Bush should be president, for why there should be change, why we need to move to a Republican administration.
DODD: Well, I -- first of all, let me -- I -- on one point, I agree. I think the winner tonight was the American public. This was a very good debate, civil debate. I know it probably lacked the fireworks that some may -- would have wanted. But I think it was a very competent explanation of the two points of view, very stark differences on almost every single issue.
And I thought Joe did a fabulous job of laying out, as the vice president did on Monday night, of the significant differences that exist with regard to Social Security, Medicare. Tonight, Dick Cheney refused to answer the question of whether or not Social Security benefits would be cut or not. On RU-486, he wouldn't answer a very simple question: Would you sign or veto a bill that came out of Congress that banned it?
Would either side at least answer the question? Didn't dare. And choice is a very important question for women. On fiscal responsibility, his math didn't really add up at all. Good competent debate. Two very good people here. But the American people, I think, clearly with a winner. And they heard from Joe Lieberman a very clear distinction of why the Gore-Lieberman ticket, I think, would be -- is more in tune with the aspirations of the American public.
WOODRUFF: Senator Simpson, I don't expect you to agree with a single word of that. Am I wrong ?
SIMPSON: If Chris Dodd and I were doing that, what it wouldn't do. Now, I -- I do say this: The Social Security issue was very carefully reviewed. And this business of trying to spook up the senior citizens is phony-baloney. And it isn't going to work. Both Bush and Cheney have said so clearly that no one who is in Social Security now is going to be affected at all.
The real day of reckoning comes in the year 2015. Every seven seconds, somebody is turning 50; 15 years, they're all at the pay window. Anybody can't figure out that is just nuts. And so there it is. And it is not going to go bankrupt. It just won't pay. It only pays 75 percent instead of 100. But do you see two fine people. I know them both very well: Dick Cheney for over 30 years. Joe and I served together in the Senate -- Chris.
These are good people, two good people. And I loved watching them. It was a spirit -- if the American people don't like that, let them go somewhere else. You know, move on out, because if that isn't what politics is all about, then I missed my boat.
WOODRUFF: Senator, let -- let me just...
SIMPSON: And you ought -- you ought to remember carefully that Joe -- Joe is the guy who works bipartisan. Al Gore is not. I defy to you find how many bills that Al Gore has done with a Republican that had any substance at all. You won't find them.
WOODRUFF: Well, he mentioned the Gulf -- the Gulf War tonight.
Senator Dodd, do you want to respond to that? I'm going to have another question for Senator Dodd.
DODD: We don't want to get into that story, Alan.
SIMPSON: Yes, I was there.
DODD: Trent Lott was asking for you, today, Alan, I'll tell you that.
WOODRUFF: Senator Dodd, what about -- do you think that Senator Lieberman got a little carried away at some point with the numbers when he was describing the tax credits? Do you think that he and the vice president, for that matter, need to find a more effective way to describe their tax plan?
DODD: Well, again, we are talking about trying to take tax cuts and apply them where they're needed most, such as in child care. When it comes to the deductibility, for instance, on the college tuition, what we are saying here is: Look, we have an opportunity to burn the national mortgage in the year 2012.
I never heard Dick Cheney or George Bush say, at any point in the last two debates, when they would get rid of this national debt. And that is a very important goal the American public have. Maybe the most important point of all of these discussions is the fiscal responsibility. Without that, you can't have a...
WOODRUFF: But you are -- but you are not really answering my question, which is: Is there more a compelling way to tell -- to make that case, rather than just spouting a lot of numbers?
DODD: Well, I guess if they want to know specifically what you're talking about here -- and I think that has some value. But the point here is that we are for tax cuts. We are not for tax cuts that are so expensive that they drive us back into a situation where we are in the red again, and where we have interest rates going up -- as Joe said: the stealth tax, paying more for your home mortgage, your college tuition, for your automobiles.
That kind of a tax, we have seen the effect on the American economy. We don't want to go back to that. I think Joe was clear about that.
WOODRUFF: Senator Simpson, a quick response there. SIMPSON: The Gulf War vote was the most troubling thing I ever saw in my life. Al Gore came to our chambers and said, "How much time will you give me in this debate?" We said, "We will give you seven minutes." He said, "They give me seven on the other side." We said, "We will give you 15."
And he said, "I'll be back." And then he called the secretary of the Senate, and he said, "Damn it, if I don't get that kind of time, I'm going to vote the other way." I was there. You can go ask Nunn and Mitchell and those of us who were involved who watched Al Gore on the toughest vote he ever cast, shopping around to see which side would give him the most time in the debate. It galled me then. It galls me now.
GREENFIELD: Senators, I have got a -- it's Jeff Greenfield with a very quick question.
When you watched tonight's debate, the absence of rancor, the absence of one-liners, the absence of scripted interjections, if these guys could do it Thursday night, how come Gore and Bush couldn't do it Tuesday night?
GREENFIELD: Go ahead, Chris.
SIMPSON: Do you want to ask me, they like -- because everybody expects them to scrap. They want them to scrap. You people now in the media will be pumping it to us. They will say: Well, the Lieberman-Cheney put me to sleep.
Well, if it did, then, as I say, you missed democracy. And so they are going to keep each other all juiced up. If it gets dull, it's going to be controversy, conflict, confusion, and not clarity. But I do think that they got to figure out how to describe that tax thing. You really need to an atomic scientist to figure that baby out.
DODD: No more complicated than trying to figure out a whole economic program that simple math doesn't add up to, with all due respect. Here, let me just say on defense of Al Gore in the Gulf War. I voted against that resolution. But we all voted within an hour or so, as Alan would tell you here to support the decision once it was made by the Congress -- maybe one of the best debates we had during my years in the Congress over that issue.
And there were people like Colin Powell that disagreed with going into war at that particular moment. There were others on the Republican side that disagreed with it. It was a healthy debate. And to go back and start talking about negotiating for minutes back and forth, I don't think we need that here. Al Gore made a decision to support that resolution -- stood up and did so -- as did Joe Lieberman.
That is an example where they reached across party lines. And they should be credited for it... SIMPSON: Joe stuck with it
DODD: ... and not sort of belittled for it at all. It was a heartfelt decision. It was a difficult one. They made it. And they ought to be respected for that.
SIMPSON: Joe made it. But Al didn't.
WOODRUFF: Gentlemen, we thank you. Gentlemen, we thank you very much. It is always a pleasure to see both of you. Senator Alan Simpson, Senator Chris Dodd, thank you
WOODRUFF: Thank you both.
And I understand that, somewhere in that room, our beloved Bernard Shaw is near a microphone, near a camera.
SHAW: Hi, Judy. Good to be back with you. It's been a long time -- a week.
WOODRUFF: Well, great job. How are you?
SHAW: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: How are you?
SHAW: Well, I'm -- I'm relieved. I'm glad it is over. You know, you are always glad. The preparation is very intense. Frankly, I have not gone to sleep before 4:00 in the morning since I arrived here Monday. But that is part of the job. I took it as a serious responsibility and an honor as an American and as a journalist, and certainly as a representative of CNN.
This was extraordinary back here on this stage. I personally think that Joseph Lieberman and Dick Cheney are two of the finest public servants this country will ever have. And they really let us see how their minds work in response to questions relevant to issues in this campaign.
WOODRUFF: Bernie, do you feel that they responded to your questions?
SHAW: In the main, yes, they did -- in the main -- I would almost say, Judy, untypically so for politicians who are candidates and who are told to stay on message. But this was honest dialogue, I thought, between these two politicians.
WOODRUFF: Did you -- we -- those of us -- of course, Bill and Jeff and I sitting here listening -- noticed the very serious tone of this debate. For someone out in the audience who is wondering: Well how come they didn't get a little more scrappy? Why weren't they, you know, sort of grabbing each other by collar?
And I don't -- I mean that only figuratively. What do you say to those who might have that question?
SHAW: These two, who would be vice president of the United States, are oak trees -- if I could say that metaphorically -- both in terms of their character, in terms of their intellect, in terms of their experience, in terms of their commitment, and also in terms of their perspective. So it actually would make their flesh crawl to engage in cheap shots. They simply cannot do that. They told us right at the top of the debate that this will not be a debate involving attacks, and they did not attack.
They criticized, and you had to listen very, very carefully. But behind me, on this stage tonight, each of these men was aiming body blows at the other, but they did it very politely.
WOODRUFF: You're absolutely right. They clearly disagreed on everything from tax cuts to military readiness, the state of education, and the United States, and on a number of other fronts.
SHAW: And also, they were not reluctant to state that disagreement.
Bernie Shaw, we are all very proud of you. A big hello from Jeff and from Bill.
SHAW: Thank you. Hi, Jeff, Bill.
WOODRUFF: We can't wait to have you back, back with us.
SHAW: I can't wait to get back. Bobby Novak is standing here to come up on the air, but I can't wait to get back. It's always good to get back home.
WOODRUFF: Well, congratulations to you and travel safe.
SHAW: Thank you. See you in Washington.
WOODRUFF: We will do that.
Coming up in just a minute, Tad Divine, chief strategist for the Al Gore campaign, and we're going to talk with some undecided voters in the state of New Hampshire.
Again, you can go always this evening, at any time to the CNN Web site, cnn.com, and put your own comments in about tonight's debate and say who you think the winner was. We'll be right back.
WOODRUFF: As promised, joining us now, from the so-called "Spin Room," I believe it is, outside there at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, Tad Divine, chief strategist for the Al Gore campaign.
Tad Devine, we just heard -- I asked Karl Rove a few minutes ago if -- because this debate was so polite was it really a draw, and he went on to say, well, we really are looking at the cumulative effect. He didn't necessarily declare Dick Cheney the winner, which I think one might have expected him to do. What do you think? Was it a draw tonight?
TAD DEVINE, GORE SENIOR ADVISER: No, I thought Joe Lieberman clearly won the debate tonight. You know , they've got really four shots to get back in this ball game, these debates. I would argue they're now 0 for 2. I thought Al Gore clearly won the other night and Joe Lieberman tonight.
And it's not a critique of Dick Cheney's performance, either. I thought Dick Cheney comported himself well. Fortunately, he was not engaged in the kind of attack politics we've seen from him in recent days.
But I don't think Dick Cheney's problem was Dick Cheney. It's that he had to carry George Bush's baggage tonight: whether it's the Social Security plan and the trillion-dollar transition cost, which no one can seem to find, or the tax cut, which is becoming increasingly a burden for their campaign. So we thought we had great night tonight, and Joe Lieberman did a great job.
WOODRUFF: But we also saw a Dick Cheney, who, as Jeff pointed out a little while ago, you know, somebody who's been serious out on the campaign trail, but tonight he showed some humor. And he was able to come back with a quip several times. That was effective, was it not, on his part?
DEVINE: Yes. Listen, I don't want to take anything away from him. I don't think his problem tonight was him. I thought Senator Lieberman was more effective in terms of communicating, speaking directly to people, talking directly to them, to the camera. I thought he got through and translated much better in terms of communication skills.
But I think Dick Cheney, unfortunately, has to walk around carrying the Bush plan in his back pocket, and that's proven to be a big problem as you get into these issues.
I thought exchange after exchange, like education and some of the other issue areas, proved to be very successful for Joe Lieberman.
WOODRUFF: It was issues that was the highlight of this debate, Tad Devine. But when we talked to Karl Rove a few minutes ago, he brought up what he described as Al Gore's untruthfulness. I don't think he used that word necessarily, but he talked about the story in the debate the other night about the young girl in a classroom without a desk, and he said it turned not to be true. He mentioned the vice president's trip to Texas with the FEMA director that turned out not to be the case.
He was bringing up once again, as the Bush campaign is, this whole question of credibility, trustworthiness. How is your campaign, how is the vice president going to deal with this?
DEVINE: I think very easily: by talking about the issues. You know, the American people don't care about this nonsense, and I think it's true that you can see why a political consultant like Karl was talking about it and somebody like Dick Cheney chose not to in the course of the campaign. I think he realizes how silly this all looks and the deaf ears that these attacks are falling on.
You know, these Republicans have tried this kind of attack politics for years now in Washington. They tried it against Bill Clinton for years. They're it now against Al Gore, and it's going to succeed for them in this election as it has in the past. It's going to result in their losing not only the presidency, but I think possibly Congress as well.
GREENFIELD: Tad, it's Jeff Greenfield. Let me ask you what I asked Karl Rove. Tonight, we saw two competing candidates for high office indulge in a debate without scripted soundbites, without rehearsed one-liners, without interrupting each other, contesting each other on the issues. Yet Tuesday night, we saw a George Bush who some of his supporters said really wasn't up to the issues as much as he should be and an Al Gore who some of his supporters said came across smug and supercilious.
How come the vice president candidates were able to do a debate which had almost none of those qualities would seem to be available Tuesday night?
DEVINE: Well, I would disagree, first of all, with that interpretation. I think these are tremendously high stakes debates. I thought Al Gore the other night spoke powerfully to the issues at hand.
So we had a different format tonight. Perhaps that will lend a different tone and demeanor from Governor Bush when we meet again. So I don't necessarily agree with that interpretation.
I think, you know, we're looking forward to this next debate. These guys really have to start making up some ground. I think your poll demonstrated that conclusively today, and if they don't do it soon, they're going to run out of time.
WOODRUFF: Tad, you know, you said a moment ago, you talked about how the Republicans keep bringing up this issue of the vice president's credibility with these small statements, so to speak. And yet we are seeing news reports quoting people, Democrats, some people anonymously in your campaign, granted anonymously, saying they're beginning to worry that an aura could be building around the vice president of someone who has a hard time sticking to the facts.
DEVINE: Judy, I don't believe that at all. I think the American people in this election desperately want someone who will tag on the challenges the lie ahead. Al Gore is talking about the fact that we are at such a critical moment in our history and his plan to extend prosperity to all families. As long as he talks about these issues in these terms, as long as he talks about education and health care and retirement security and his plan for targeted tax cuts for the middle class, that will trump all of this discussion. That's what we believe.
And you know, it's interesting. We've got competing theories of the election at hand here. We believe if we talk about issues we'll win. They believe that if they talk about all of these other characteristics and attributes, they'll win.
I think the American people, given this choice, they're going to choose substantive, serious candidate over a candidate who really wants to make charges for which there is really no grounds.
GREENFIELD: One of the differences on substance, Tad, as has been pointed out in a couple of articles, there seems to be an emerging fundamental theme here about the role of government in the first part of the 21st century. And Al Gore is and has been for 24 years a man who believes in an activist government. The Bush-Cheney campaign clearly seems to be asking people to judge on the basis of who will empower you as opposed to government.
As a theme, as a theme, where Americans traditionally lean a little bit away from it, from that kind of government philosophy, is that a problem for your campaign?
DEVINE: I don't think it is, and I'll tell you why. It is the Democratic Party that has turned the tide of deficit into surplus in this nation, and I think the people understand that. Their policies on the other side simply do not speak to the challenge of meeting and mastering the nation's debt.
Al Gore and Joe Lieberman have put forth a plan not only to pay down but to pay off the nation's debt. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman have put forth a plan, not only to pay down, but pay off the nation's debt by the year 2012, So I think in light of that, in the light of the commitment to fiscal discipline and fiscal responsibility of measured investments in programs that matter to people, in tax cuts on our side targeted to middle class, if that program and agenda and record wasn't there, maybe the other charges would stick. But in light of the reality of the record, I don't think they will.
WOODRUFF: Tad Devine, one last, quick question. I'm going to ask you the same thing I asked Senator Chris Dodd just a moment ago. Both the vice president on Tuesday night and Senator Lieberman tonight, in talking about the tax plan of their ticket, got into a whole lot of detail, a whole lot of numbers, that were almost numbing in their mass. And, you know, in effect Dick Cheney at one point said, you know, you almost have to be a CPA to understand it. Do you all need to find a more, I don't know, consumer-friendly way, maybe reporter-friendly way of getting this across on a regular basis?
DEVINE: Judy, I think Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and certainly this campaign have a much higher opinion of the American people and their ability to understand these facts and figures than Dick Cheney portrayed tonight. I don't think you need to be CPA to understand that the wealthiest one percent are going to receive a massive tax cut from George Bush and that amount of money that he puts into the wealthiest one percent in the form of a tax cut is more than the combined investments he makes in education, health care, and new spending on the military combined.
So, that's a simple fact to understand. The vice president delivered it powerfully the other night. This something we're going to talk about for the rest of the election. And we think as people come to understand this, the likelihood of success for us increases astronomically.
WOODRUFF: All right, Tad Devine, chief strategist for Vice President Al Gore's campaign. We thank you very much for joining us, and we will see you soon.
DEVINE: It's nice to be with you. All right.
WOODRUFF: Now joining us, I believe they are joining us right now, Candy Crowley is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Governor George W. Bush is spending this night and where he's no doubt been watching the debate. And at the same time, John King joins us from Lake Buena Vista, Florida, where Vice President Gore has been watching tonight's goings on.
Candy, what can you tell us about what the Bush folks are saying about what their man Dick Cheney did?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George Bush thought Dick Cheney won hands down, I know that shocks you.
CROWLEY: He said as much, in fact he said just those words, on a satellite feed into Kentucky, where he -- Dick Cheney was having a rally. He said I think America got to see reason why I chose this man, and I think he won hands down. He also said he thought he was going to win Kentucky.
So that was George Bush's reaction to it. He did indeed watch the whole thing from his hotel room here in Cedar Rapids. We had some video of that, went in he was with his wife, Laura, and they watched the whole thing and they thought he won hands down. So there you have that unbiased critique.
WOODRUFF: So John King, I have to believe that the Gore people, thought the same thing, right? They thought that Cheney won hands down, right?
KING: Much as during the debate tonight, the other side, I think, would politically disagree. The vice president watched the debate here at his hotel room near Orlando. We got no access to him during debate, unlike Governor Bush. The vice president did stop by rally before hand, a debate watching party, some supporters here in, again, at the hotel in Florida. The Gore campaign, as you just heard from Tad Devine, saying they believe Senator Lieberman won. They do think he was effective again in trying to make the tax fairness argument, the relative fairness in their view of the economic plan. We should say, though, going in, senior Gore advisers had promised we had would hear a lot about Governor Bush's record in Texas, tonight, an effort to contrast his record in Texas in ways the Gore people say casts some doubt on his promises as a presidential candidate on the issues of health care, environment, education. That happened not at all.
And on point you have been discussing throughout the show, tonight an example, I think, of a frustration the Gore people have voiced throughout the campaign. Remember, back in the 1996 election, Dole/Gingrich was one word. There were ways to try to push the Republican nominee more to right, especially for that slice of the electorate still at play here, independents in middle. Newt Gingrich quite a controversial figure. They Velcroed Bob Dole to him in the '96 election.
And George Bush and Dick Cheney, Gore advisers will concede privately, two men who carry themselves very well in the public discourse. Nonconfrontational, very conversational and plain spoken. We saw tonight, they wanted to bring up the governor's record coming in. They don't blame Senator Lieberman. They say the questions just didn't arise. But very difficult to make attacks on two men who carry themselves very differently from the Republicans these Democrats are used to running against.
WOODRUFF: Very quick next question to both of you. Candy, and then to John. Candy, after this debate the Bush people see any appreciable change in this race?
CROWLEY: I don't think so. I think they believe, and they have said, that this is sort of an incremental thing, that, you know, one debate not even the presidential debate on Tuesday, do they believe changed the dynamic very much. They certainly don't think the vice presidential debate will change things much. Maybe some big disaster tonight might have, but I don't think they or anyone else at this point thinks that the dynamic of race changes because Dick Cheney had great night in a debate as did Joe Lieberman.
WOODRUFF: And John King, just quickly, same thing. Any change in this race?
KING: No, they do not, which is why the vice president is here in Florida, a key battleground. The Gore campaign believes if you can keep Florida and Ohio competitive to end, and if he can maintain his leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois that he will win the White House. Those they think the five biggest battleground states, toss in Missouri, maybe one or two others. But they think right now while the national polls, most of them. ours showed a blip today, most very tight, they believe state by state they are winning and they don't think the first two debates have changed anything.
WOODRUFF: All right, John King, Candy Crowley. Both of you get a good night's sleep. I'm sure you've got a full day tomorrow. Thanks a lot. Now joining us with some more analysis of this tonight's vice presidential debate, a familiar face at CNN, Bob Novak of "The Chicago Sun-Times" and here in Atlanta the editorial page editor of "The Atlanta Constitution," Cynthia Tucker.
Bob Novak, to you. What did you think?
ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Judy, this is one of the most remarkable debates I have seen. I have been watching them since 1960. And as you well know, vice presidential debates often get chaotic. I think of the Dole and Quayle and other vice presidential debates and the Kemp/Gore debate were very strange things happen.
This was a sedate debate, I think, but one I enjoyed tremendously. I don't know if most American viewers would because it was really a very serious discussion of the issues. What was interesting to me is that Joe Lieberman was put on the ticket because he was little bit of a different Democrat, and he is, and I think he is an impressive man, but he was really putting out the Gore line that was things taken just whole from the Gore campaign talking points.
Well, on the other hand, Dick Cheney was not at all in line with the Bush talking points. He was playing his own games, sometimes, not even in touch with what the campaign was saying. That made, I thought, Cheney ineffective or less effective than he should have been in answering the attack on the Bush tax plan. But I thought, Judy, he was very good things he specializes in: foreign policy and defense. I thought he rather wiped Lieberman out on those subjects. I thought that was very would be very impressive to the independent voter or the loose voter who hasn't totally made up his mind.
WOODRUFF: Cynthia Tucker, were you surprised at the number of times when they seemed, if not agree, at least not talk about what the disagreement was on some of the answers?
CYNTHIA TUCKER, "ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION": I was surprised, Judy. I expected more fireworks, more slashing because that's what we usually expect from vice presidential debates. But we didn't get that, and it was a pleasure. It was a pleasure to listen to.
The biggest surprise for me was that they actually answered the questions that they were asked. Unlike the other evening, when both Gore and Bush were relentlessly staying on message. So much so that they often didn't answer Jim Lehrer's questions.
Tonight, I thought that Cheney and Lieberman both actually endeavored to answer the questions. They were quite thoughtful, both of them, I thought, straight from talking points from time to time because there were no talking points on issues such as gay rights, for example, racial profiling, where they really thought about it and gave very thoughtful answers.
And so I found this a very refreshing change of pace, and I wonder if the presidential candidates will take a hint from this and whether we'll see anything different from them in the next debate next Wednesday night. GREENFIELD: Bob Novak, it's Jeff Greenfield. There have been those on the right who have been urging the Bush-Cheney campaign to run harder on the issues of social conservatism. Clearly that didn't happen tonight. Dick Cheney was at pains to move, as you pointed out, much more toward a kind of middle ground. Is that a strategic mistake on the part of Bush and Cheney?
NOVAK: I don't believe so. I don't believe that the social conservatives are really the problem in this campaign. I think the base is there. The fact that Pat Buchanan is still at 1 percent in the polls indicates that. I think their problem is getting this undecided, this middle vote.
And I thought there were some very interesting things that were said. I don't know how much impact it will have on voters. But I was fascinated, for example, when Joe Lieberman put up the line, the straight Gore line that if you criticize -- there's something sort of unpatriotic about criticizing the military in a political campaign, saying that it is not up to snuff. And I thought Cheney was very impressive in saying if you can't talk about the military and its deficiencies in a political campaign, when can you?
Jeff, this was very important for Dick Cheney on an inside basis, because the people in the party, the talk has been rampant that this was the biggest blunder of George Bush's campaign, naming Cheney: He hasn't been effective, he's been a negative, not half, not a quarter of the favorable impact that Joe Lieberman had.
And I thought tonight his performance, although he didn't, as some had people told me, he didn't really take after Gore -- I didn't think he would, and he didn't -- but I thought he really improved his own standing in the party.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Novak, Cynthia Tucker. We're going to ask you both to stand by, because there are two folks we want to go back to and hear from. They are in Danville, Kentucky tonight: Governor Paul Patton of the state of Kentucky and Governor John Engler of Michigan.
I think they are both at Centre College in the so-called "spin room." Are you there, gentlemen?
John Engler, you are there. Thank you for being with us.
GOV. JOHN ENGLER (R), MICHIGAN: Hi. Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We just heard Bob Novak say -- and I assume you're going to agree with him -- that he thought that Dick Cheney came across very effectively tonight, perhaps more effectively than Joe Lieberman. Did it surprise you that this was such a polite debate?
ENGLER: Well, I thought it was a good night for George Bush, because he picked Dick Cheney, and yes, I thought that the format actually -- Bernie Shaw had a good night, too, by the way. I thought those were very focused, good questions. I think seated at the table actually made it a little bit of a kitchen-table conversation tonight. And I agree with Bob Novak on the defense issues. The center part of that debate set out some very different views and probably has teed this question up rather effectively for the next presidential debate now.
I thought Cheney was very quick on his feet, even though they were seated, with that wit tonight, and Lieberman probably thought he went a step too far in that little crack about the private sector.
I thought Dick Cheney was at the top of his game tonight. I thought Joe Lieberman did a fine job, too. But if you're looking at it from a Michigan perspective, I'm trying to think where are those, you know, 6, 7, 8 percent undecided voters going to go. And I think we saw two CEOs Tuesday night and tonight in George Bush and Dick Cheney, and I think we saw the legislators, Gore and Lieberman, with their facts and their factoids. But I think it hangs together a bit better for Bush and Cheney.
WOODRUFF: So you're saying, just quickly, governor, you're saying you think are going to tilt Bush-Cheney after tonight's debate?
ENGLER: Oh, no, no. I'm just saying -- this is very slow, hard progress. Our state is one of those battleground states. Very even today, was inside the error -- the margin of error. And so it's going to go down to the wire in Michigan. But I think this all helps. I think people want a new leadership, but they've got to change the incumbent party to get it, and they've got to be certain. And I think this was a very reassuring performance by Dick Cheney, very substantive and solid, and it bolstered what George Bush did already two days earlier.
WOODRUFF: All right. Also joining us is now Governor Paul Patton of the state of Kentucky.
GOV. PAUL PATTON (D), KENTUCKY: Judy...
WOODRUFF: I'm sure you feel good about your state having been the host for this debate tonight.
What about the undecided voters in your state? Where are they? We just heard Governor Engler say it's a long, hard slog. What would you say after these two debates?
PATTON: Well, let me say we are very proud to host this event. The city of Danville did a great job, and we're very proud of them.
We think that the debate was a clear winner for the Gore- Lieberman team, because they talked about specifics and they talked about issues that the people of Kentucky are really interested in.
The telling question was: Can you guarantee me absolutely that there won't be any cut in Social Security benefits? Joe Lieberman said yes, no hesitation; Cheney never could answer the question, because the answer is no on his side.
So on that issue, on the who's going to benefit from the tax cut, who's going to pay down the debt, who's going to protect the prospering economy, the issues that Kentuckians are going to vote on, the Democrats are right on those issues, and Lieberman articulated them very, very well.
GREENFIELD: Governor, it's Jeff Greenfield. How are you doing?
PATTON: Jeff, just fine.
GREENFIELD: If I see the numbers right, four years ago President Clinton carried Kentucky, I think it was by less than 1 percentage point...
PATTON: That's about correct.
GREENFIELD: ... against Bob Dole who even Republicans said was not the strongest presidential candidate they've ever had. And Kentucky has always been a state where Democrats have kind of had to hit a slightly different tone than the kind of Washington government activist Democrats. If this campaign comes down to an argument about the role of government, doesn't that bode ill for the Democratic prospects in Kentucky?
PATTON: I think that Kentuckians support a role for government and a conservative role on basic things, like building an infrastructure, supporting education. We're very committed to those things. And we do believe that being a poor state, we believe the federal government ought to help us gain in areas that we're behind on.
WOODRUFF: Governor Engler, what about that? I mean, if -- if it does, as Jeff Greenfield just said, come down to a debate of, you know, this kind of an argument over the role of government, whether it ought to be less or more, what about Michigan?
ENGLER: Well, I think the best political question tonight to be useful was not probably military. That was probably the most important for the nation. But the energy question, I thought Dick Cheney just blew Joe Lieberman away on that question, because the differences where Governor Bush and Cheney would go compared to where Gore has not gone with Clinton in the last eight years and where he would take us "With Earth in the Balance" are stark in Kentucky.
This is a state with a coal industry. Al Gore doesn't like coal. He doesn't like cars either, and Kentucky's not been doing badly with the car industry.
Al Gore is wanting to do just what Joe Lieberman said, design the next generation of cars to get 80 miles to the gallon. The problem is while we're migrating toward that technology, we're going to put a lot of auto workers out of jobs, we're going to shut down a lot of coal plants.
I flew in tonight, and I saw a big utility burning coal. With the Kyoto accords ratified, you can shut that plant down.
And see, those kids of economic issues represent a lot of heartbreak for American families, and I think for the next four weeks, as we talk more about that, that energy answer tonight that represented the Gore position is unsustainable. Governor Patton doesn't want to shut down his coal industry. Governor Bush's clean coal technology would make a big difference.
WOODRUFF: We're going to have to wrap up, but I do want Governor Patton to get a response.
PATTON: Well, I do believe, Judy, that I ought to have an opportunity to respond...
WOODRUFF: Yes, that's what I'm saying. You do.
PATTON: ... because the Lieberman ticket offered a real alternative, and that is improving efficiency. I just drove a car that got 80 miles to the gallon, and let me tell you, it took just as many automobile workers to build that car than it did a regular car. And if the big oil that the Gore -- that the Bush team represents is not in the best interest of this country.
The $5 a barrel drop in the price of oil is because the president had the courage to buck the big oil companies and go to this strategic oil reserve, and they do have a policy, and the Bush policy is depend on big oil.
WOODRUFF: All right, Governor Paul Patton of Kentucky, Governor John Engler of Michigan.
ENGLER: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Thank you both. We'll let you continue that discussion between the two of you right there.
ENGLER: Very good.
WOODRUFF: You can talk about Kentucky's coal and Kentucky's industry. Thank you both very much.
WOODRUFF: And we were just talking about undecided voters and whether they were swayed one way or another by tonight's debate or Tuesday night's debate or the two of them together. We're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to go to New Hampshire, where our own Bill Delaney has been sitting with some undecided voters, and we're going to hear what they thought. We'll be right back.
WOODRUFF: ... as it is. We -- before we go to listen to some of those undecided voters in the state of New Hampshire, we want to show you one of the -- one of the few moments of humor in tonight's debate, when Bernard Shaw, the moderator, had asked Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney: What about all the partisanship in Washington, and what would they do to improve the situation to make it health healthier.
Let's listen, starting with Cheney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With all due respect, Joe, there is just an awful lot of evidence that there has not been any bipartisan leadership out of this administration or out of Al Gore.
And the fact is, the Medicare problems have not been addressed; we've had eight years of promises on prescription drugs and no action. The Social Security problem has not been addressed; we've had eight years of talk and no action. The educational problem has not been addressed; we've have eight years of talk and no action.
Now, they've been in a position of responsibility in the White House with a powerful interest, if you will, in Washington, D.C., and they've been unable to work with others.
And Medicare is a classic example. You had the Breaux commission, a good effort at a bipartisan solution for Medicare. Whether you bought or didn't buy the answer that was generated, the fact is the administration helped set it up and then pulled the plug on it because they'd rather have the issue than they would the solution.
This administration has not led from a bipartisan standpoint, and I really do think that Al Gore's record in this regard isn't very good.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie, Dick Cheney must be one of the few people in America who does -- who thinks that nothing has been accomplished in the last eight years. I mean, the fact is that promises were made and promises were kept. I mean, has Al Gore -- did Al Gore make promises in 1992? Absolutely. Did he deliver? Big time, if I may put it that way. And that's the record.
Look at the 22 million new jobs. Look at the 4 million new businesses. Look at the lower interest rates, low rate of inflation, high rate of growth.
I think if you asked most people in America today that famous question that Ronald Reagan asked, "Are you better off today than you were eight years ago?" most people would say, "Yes."
And I'm pleased to see, Dick, from the newspapers, that you're better off than you were eight years ago, too.
CHENEY: And most of it -- and I can tell you, Joe, that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.
SHAW: This question's to you, but...
LIEBERMAN: I can see my wife, and I think she's thinking, "Gee, I wish he would go out into the private sector."
CHENEY: Well, I'm going to try to help you do that, Joe.
LIEBERMAN: No, I...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: So now we know what Dick Cheney's been doing on the campaign trail all these days.
Jeff Greenfield, when you said he was out there looking serious in these elementary school classrooms across America, he was coming up with the great one-liners.
GREENFIELD: Well, it -- I'll tell what you occurs to me is, I'm really curious now to see the presidential candidates next week in this same format, whether it's going to be this kind of debate. Or, in past times around these tables, McCain-Bush in South Carolina, that format has not prevented the guys from going after each other. So was it the table or the character of the men involved?
SCHNEIDER: I think it has a lot had to do with the character of the men involved. And, you know, I would suspect that not many votes would change as a result of this debate, but one thing probably did happen. It's going to be very hard to depict Dick Cheney as a radical, some sort of a smug fat cat oil man who is completely out of touch.
I mean, he was relaxed. He was communicative. I though he connected with voters, just as we saw tonight. And this caricature of him that has been promoted from his rather far-right voting record, it is going to be hard for Democrats to sell that.
WOODRUFF: Well, you say not many votes were changed. And we've got a way of sampling whether that's the case or not -- at least in one part of the country, up in New England, in the state of New Hampshire.
Our own Bill Delaney is up there and has been talking with some real people -- Bill.
BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Judy, talking to some real people, some lovely people, some very patient people at this hour of the night at Kingswood Regional High School we are in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, in beautiful northeastern New Hampshire.
Everybody in this room came in tonight undecided. And interestingly enough, after an-hour-and-a-half of watching the vice- presidential candidates, a couple of minds have been made up. Now, we have got a little cross-section of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire here tonight, including, interestingly, three high school seniors, who will vote for the first time this year.
One of those high school seniors is Megan Dreisbock (ph).
Megan, your impressions of the debate tonight. And did it help to you lean in one direction or the other?
MEGAN DREISBOCK, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I definitely think it helped me to lean. I came in here totally undecided, really had no idea where I was going to go. I really enjoyed listening to Mr. Cheney tonight. I thought he gave very impressive answers to the questions. I agreed with him on the issues.
And I also liked the way that he would answer every question without kind of sidestepping and saying that this may not be an issue we want to discuss on political campaigns. I that feel any issue that's going to affect me as a voter needs to be discussed. It was really helpful to know his answer. And he also answered the questions in a very down-to-earth, a manner I could understand, without a lot of -- without all the stuff that might confuse the answer or make me wonder exactly what he is saying.
DELANEY: Now, seated next is to you, Megan, is a voter, Barbara Crowley (ph), who works at a little museum here in Wolfeboro, who has voted a few times before.
Barbara, you had some thoughts, as well, that pushed you in one direction. And you came in here not really leaning too hard in one direction. What did you take away from the vice-presidential debate?
BARBARA CROWLEY, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: That I kind of had made up my mind. I liked what Mr. Lieberman had to say. And, well, that's about it.
DELANEY: What was it that he said that was strong enough to push you really in the direction, you said, of now voting for Vice President Gore?
DELANEY: Or was it more his tone?
CROWLEY: His tone and his smile and just his general appearance or -- and manner.
DELANEY: Now, Karen Baker (ph) at the end of the row here, who owns the bookstore in town, you had an interesting thought. Right after the debate, you said what?
KAREN BAKER, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Oh, I just said what a high- class debate it really was, that really both candidates came across as just true gentlemen. And they were a credit to their parties, and really a credit to the country. It really made me kind of wish that they were the ones that were running for the president.
DELANEY: And that was a reaction we heard in this room, wasn't it, that...
BAKER: Yes, it was.
DELANEY: ... more than once, that maybe these guys should be at the top of the ticket.
DELANEY: Matt Kraus (ph) up there, another young man who will vote for the first time this year.
MATT KRAUS, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: Well, I was very impressed with the manner they conducted themselves in tonight. They both showed good sportsmanship. They didn't try to put down one or the other -- either party. But -- and even when they had a chance to, they didn't. They were complimentary towards each other. So...
DELANEY: This is the something we heard among all five of you, that the gentile tone of this contrasted with the presidential debate. And you liked that a lot.
Christian -- Christian Collet (ph), up at the top of the -- top the there.
Christian -- another young man who will vote for the first time this year -- you are still wavering.
CHRISTIAN COLLET, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I'm still undecided. I was very impressed with the manner in which they conducted themselves. They conducted themselves very statesmenly. They were very, you know, gentile, like you said.
The only thing that really concerned me was that, when they touched on the topic of the partisanship that is crippling, you know, Washington politics today, neither candidate really would address the fact that they -- there's been a lack of participation by either the Green Party or the Reform Party in these debates. And I find that kind of disconcerting.
But other than that, I came away with a good overall feeling of the debate.
DELANEY: There was a fair amount of talk that got a bit technical at times. Could you follow it? And, in the end, what matters more? Is it tone or is it issues?
Now, I know you, Karen, were nodding quite a bit when they were talking about Social Security. But at the end of the day, is it issues or the personality, the presence of these men that impresses you, that matters in a candidate?
BAKER: Well, certainly the issues are probably the most important. But the way that they can get their point across is equally important. If -- you could be the best politician in the world, technically, but if you can't get your point across to the people, you will never make it into office. And so both are very, very important.
DELANEY: Megan, tell me more about what all of you seem to take away most dramatically from this. There was a contrast with the presidential debate
DREISBOCK: There definitely was. I think, both with the presidential and the vice-presidential debate, the Democrats threw around a lot of statistics. And I know, at least for myself, it's really hard sometimes to pick up on all the statistics and to apply them, and be like: How does this affect me? And will this change my life? Will this affect my life? And what actually do they mean by this 10 percent or 1 percent or 23.3 percent?
And so I felt that the Republicans took a lot more personal -- personal view to the issues. They brought it down to a level where the common people could relate and could understand it: Oh, this is what's going to go on in my life. This is how it's going to affect me as a person, me as a voter. And that just made me feel much more easy about casting my vote for somebody who I thought understood me as a common person, not as a statistic, necessarily.
DELANEY: Barbara, several weeks down the line, when you actually go into that voting booth, will you still be thinking about Senator Lieberman as a reason to pull the lever for Vice President Gore? Or will it fade off? And in the end, do people really vote for a president, not a vice president?
CROWLEY: Oh, I suspect that it probably will fade some. But I'll certainly remember that this sort of got me going in that direction.
DELANEY: Matt, was there an issue that really stood out for you that -- amid everything they talked about?
KRAUS: The one thing that stood out to me the most was how you said the Republicans were more direct in their answers and the Democrats would talk around a lot of the answers or say like complicated things that most people can't comprehend.
What stood out to me the most was when they asked the question about putting yourself in the other shoes of an African-American men. And I liked how Cheney answered that, because he really can't -- he said he couldn't put himself in the shoes of that person or gender or whatever.
DELANEY: Did anybody come in with an impression of one of the two candidates and come away having learned something about them they didn't know before, feeling differently about them than they did before? Or did -- was your impression, when you came in, pretty much what you took away? No surprises.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it was pretty consistent.
DELANEY: Did you miss fireworks? I mean, let's face it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
DELANEY: A lot of us watch politics for the red meat, as it's sometimes referred to in the political trade. It was a very gentile debate, a very intelligent, a very dignified debate.
But is that -- is that good all the time?
DREISBOCK: I think not all the time. I think a lot of time, we want to see, you know, we want to see an argument. But on the other hand, this made it so much easier. Just focus on the issues and focus on what they are actually saying, instead of who's going to call the next name, who's going to bring up the next dirty point. It was so much easier to be like: OK, these are the good things about the candidates, not: These are the bad things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stayed with the issues, instead of jumping all around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
DELANEY: So, you're all -- go ahead, Karen, please.
BAKER: Well, I was just going to say, interject that they -- they tended to use humor instead of fireworks, I think. And I think, in this particular debate, it was just as effective. So...
DELANEY: Was this a model for future debates, or can you guys honestly tell me that -- that you don't want debates where there's that zinger, that special moment where everybody cringes and sometimes elections and votes can turn on it? Do you want debates that are this gentile and dignified and mellow?
KRAUS: I don't think it's possible. I think that it's going to be so competitive between the people running for president than the vice presidents, because they're not the one getting bashed or on guard, because they can be a little less defensive, because you're not out there to like, put them down or...
DREISBOCK: Also shows the comment we went back to about working together in D.C. and between party lines about -- that that can actually be done, I think they worked very well together. I mean. they are not going -- they're obviously competing against each other. Yet there's definitely a sense of comradeship between the two of them. I think that definitely shows that it can happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would it be a good team? DREISBOCK: Yes, yes.
DELANEY: Thank you all very much indeed. Judy, everybody in this room watched the debate very intently for an hour and a half. A couple of minds were made up, three minds still not made up.
Bill Delaney reporting live from Wolfeboro, New Hampshire --Judy.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bill. And I can tell you that all of us here in the studio at CNN Center in Atlanta were listening to every word that they were saying. It is always helpful for us to hear what people like them think about these political exchanges because we eat and sleep and breathe this stuff day in and day out. But it's very refreshing to hear what they say. So thanks to them. And please apologize for the delay. I know you mentioned they were patient. It took us a while to get to them and so please apologize for that and we thank them for being part of our program.
We're going to get back to more comment on tonight's debate. But first we want to tell about this developing story tonight out of Yugoslavia. And that is that U.S. intelligence sources tell CNN that the suburban Belgrade home of President Slobodan Milosevic appears deserted. But his whereabouts are unknown.
That word comes after a day of demonstrations that began as a confrontation between protesters and security forces. But as the day wore on, police backed off, allowing the parliament building and state-run television station to be occupied by protesters. Later, members of Serbia's once-feared security apparatus were mingling with the estimated half million demonstrators.
Today's rally, that may have driven Mr. Milosevic from power, comes two weeks after opposition politicians accused the Yugoslav leader of vote-rigging. But there are fears at this hour that Mr. Milosevic might strike back. The opposition leader, Vojislav Kostunica, appealed to his supporters to remain on the streets until dawn in order to block any counterattack by the Yugoslav military.
The state-run news agency is now calling Kostunica the elected president of Yugoslavia. That's the latest on that story.
We'll be back with more on tonight's vice presidential debate.
WOODRUFF: Two examples there of the compliments people paying who are commenting on our Web site.
We want to go to two -- three analysts, one of which -- one of whom we heard from a little bit earlier tonight, Cynthia Tucker of "The Atlanta Constitution." We're also going to joined by Charlie Cook, political analyst, and Stu Rothenberg. Both of them are in Washington.
But Cynthia, I want to come back to you. I was struck by what the voters in New Hampshire in Wolfeboro were telling Bill Delaney just a moment ago. There did seem to be a consensus that Dick Cheney did a good job tonight in -- just from the standpoint of seeming to give straightforward answers, answering the questions, being direct, being honest, truthful, and so on. How do you account for that?
CYNTHIA TUCKER, "ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION": Well, I think there are a couple of things going on here. I think that the voters have perhaps seen a little bit less of Dick Cheney than they have of Joe Lieberman. I mean, Joe Lieberman, after all, has joined in with the top of the tickets, Bush and Gore, on appearing on some of the late-night comedy shows. So voters already know that he's charming and personable, and we've seen a little less of Cheney. And tonight, voters got to see that he could also be charming and personable.
But I think there may be something else going on here: I think that the comments we've heard from some of the voters in New Hampshire suggest that the Democratic ticket may have a real problem with explaining their complicated tax cuts in a compelling way. More than once we heard this notion that the statistics are numbing, we didn't understand what they're talking about.
So I think in fact that this is something that both Gore and Lieberman are going to have to work on, finding a way to explain their tax cuts in a less complex fashion that ordinary voters can understand.
WOODRUFF: That's interesting commentary. When I put that very same question earlier tonight to Tad Devine of the Gore-Lieberman campaign, he said he did not think that that was a problem. So to be continued.
I want to go now to Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook in Washington. How do you account for the reaction of these voters in New Hampshire? What were they saying? What did you see tonight?
CHARLES COOK, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": I thought it was a very enjoyable debate. I thought it was a lot of fun. You know, I think 90 minutes is way too long for a debate, but this didn't seem like it was 90 minutes long. It seemed to go a lot faster. It was more civil. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
You almost had the impression that these two guys could go out and have dinner together afterwards. And it was the way things used to be in Washington, not the way they are today.
WOODRUFF: Stu Rothenberg, go ahead.
STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Judy, I'd say of the four people on the two tickets, Dick Cheney comes off as least as the politician. He's more of the average guy. Now, of course, he is a politician. He was a member of Congress, secretary of defense. He has a more earnest, down-to-earth, straightforward, nonpolitician point of view.
But I have to wonder, Judy, whether a lot of this is in the eye of the beholder. You know, I agree that there were these criticisms about too many specifics, too many numbers in the presidential debate. But if George W. Bush came forward and didn't use specifics and didn't use detail, he would be criticized even more than he has been about -- for being light, for not being -- having the intellectual heft.
So in a case, it's, I think, to some extent it's a dammed if you do and damned if you don't.
WOODRUFF: Cynthia, do you see it that way?
TUCKER: Well, George W. Bush has been criticized more by pundits and analysts like myself for not having enough specific details on his proposals, and in Tuesday night's debate, quite frankly, I think that there were times when George W. Bush didn't seem to have the same command of the material that Gore did.
But in tonight's debate, we had two men who are much more evenly matched, two very intelligent men, two very experienced Washington hands, both of them with a command of the material. But it seemed that Lieberman got a little bit more hung up in the numbers and Cheney was able to explain his proposal, the tax part of it anyway, in a less complicated way.
WOODRUFF: Charlie Cook, tonight's debate, is it going to change the race?
COOK: This doesn't change anything at all. First of all, there were no doubts about the competence, the intelligence, the knowledge of either of these guys. It was kind of interesting to watch. It was fun to watch. It was reassuring to know that one of these guys is going to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. But it's not going to change any votes at all. Running mates usually don't change any votes anyway.
I thought that one point, though, that Cynthia made a few minutes ago was very good, and that is that -- and Cheney got into this a little bit -- is the only way that people could get Al Gore's -- low- income people could get Al Gore's tax cuts is if they went out and hired a professional tax preparer, you know, and low-income people are the less likely people to go out and do it: that that's sort of an inherent contradiction, I've always thought, in the Gore tax proposal. I've been waiting for Bush to make the argument. Cheney finally did.
ROTHENBERG: Except that, in fact, the Democratic attack of the Republican tax proposal is really neat and quick and clean: that is that most of the tax cuts go to the very wealthy people. That is a very easy message for most voters to understand.
COOK: The fact is that people wouldn't be getting the Democrat tax cuts because they wouldn't be applying for these tax credits because they wouldn't know how to because it's so complicated.
ROTHENBERG: Well, now, I'm confused, Charlie.
WOODRUFF: I know. Some of us sitting here at the anchor desk at least -- I will only speak for myself, and I know I've got two very smart colleagues here. But I have to say I got lost in the numbers. Cynthia Tucker, we want to thank you here in Atlanta. Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg, thank you both. We thank you, all three, for staying up so late with us tonight. We appreciate it.
ROTHENBERG: Thanks, Judy.
COOK: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: And my colleagues. So did you understand the numbers, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: Well, that's my job, and I understood some of them. But look, you know, debates are supposed to clarify the issues. I think in a way this debate certainly did.
There's a basic choice of philosophy here. If you want more choice, that's the Republican ticket: more control over your own lives and what you want to do, more choices about what to do with your money. That's what the Republicans are offering. If you want more security, that's what the Democrats are offering.
Well, generally speaking, men like a lot of choice. You ever see a man with a remote control?
Women like more security, and that, I think, is behind the gender gap.
And one other thing, change. The Republicans have to sell change: They're the out party. If you are satisfied with military preparedness, taxes, education, Social Security, and Medicare, the Democrats say we'll make those systems more secure. But if you want basic reforms and are not satisfied, then what Cheney was saying tonight is you vote Republican because we think things are bad and we can make -- we can reform them.
GREENFIELD: I am very curious to see the possibility that this debate might have an impact, not on voters, but on the presidential candidates. That is I think if you contrast the tone of Tuesday night with tonight's debate, I think there's going to be a lot of folks, not just pundits and editorialists, but the kind of voters we heard today, unscientific sample though it may be, who say -- who might say, "Why can't the presidential candidates debate the way the vice presidential candidates did?" Without rancor and slick prepared remarks and one- liners, and just have a conversation.
And that is why for me the most interesting potential impact of tonight's debate is next week, around that table in North Carolina.
WOODRUFF: Absolutely, and I would just say in closing here, for our segment of this program, that what we saw was very different from what most people had expected. There were all sorts of predictions of blood's going to be on the floor, you know, feathers are going to fly. And that was not what happened. It was a very civil, a very high- minded debate: in no small part I think due to -- and I'll pat him on the back -- Bernie Shaw's questions. SCHNEIDER: And there is an old rule which says people don't vote for vice presidents and vice presidents don't really matter. This year might be the year in which that rule does not apply.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, Jeff Greenfield, it's always a pleasure to be with the two of you. Thanks very much.
On behalf of all of us at CNN for this part of the program, thanks for being with us. We are going to take a break, but when we come back, you're in for a treat: "The Spin Room" -- Bill Press, Tucker Carlson. They'll be along very shortly. Thanks for joining us.
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