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Undecided New Hampshire Voters Discuss the Vice Presidential DebateAired October 5, 2000 - 11:35 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: 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.
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