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CNN Today

Illinois Voters Respond to Vice Presidential Debate

Aired October 6, 2000 - 2:36 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The two main presidential candidates are praising the performance of their running mates in last night's vice presidential debate -- but of course. But how did the event play in the American heartland?

For some answers, let's go to southern Illinois. Talking with people in the town of Vernon Hills is our Jeff Flock.

Hi to you, Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, hello to you, and I would say not only are their running mates praising them, but all of the folks at this table are praising them. We've heard that most of this day as we had our ear to the ground listening to reaction to last night's debate.

And I guess, was it the format? Is that what made it work for you or was it personalities, John? John Stewart (ph) is a Republican and a former Republican candidate for Congress here. What was your sense?

JOHN STEWART, ILLINOIS VOTER: I think it was -- I think it was both. But I think the best thing we got out of it was two words: direction of the country and the hypocrisy that Joe Lieberman is starting to take on.

A direction of the country: Joe Lieberman cemented in stone that they want bigger government and to keep more of our money, and I have a fundamental problem with that. And as far as hypocrisy, Gore says schools are decayed, Lieberman says schools are fine. Lieberman wants a lockbox on Social Security, and in 1992 they had a chance to do that and they didn't.

FLOCK: OK. We're going to let the other side of the strident opinions go in there. Weigh in, Rosy (ph). Rosy, you're a Democratic.

ROSY, ILLINOIS VOTER: Yes. I think it was a formal and very civil (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Most of the issues that I care about were addressed, such as equal vote for both men and women, racial profiling, education, Social Security and health care. Those are the issues that most Americans care about, and those issues were addressed.

FLOCK: Have you made your mind up, by the way?

ROSY: Yes, I have.

FLOCK: Who's -- what's your choice?

ROSY: Lieberman, Al Gore-Lieberman is my choice.

FLOCK: OK.

ROSY: They're good for America.

FLOCK: OK. Let's move to the undecided side of the table here and get some sense. Did anything that you heard last night, Doug, a firefighter here in town, did anything that you heard sway you one way or the other from either of the candidates?

DOUG, ILLINOIS VOTER: Not at this time. At this time, I think I need to watch the other debates, research both parties a little bit more, and find out where they truly stand on these issues.

FLOCK: But, Gail, you're a mom and an attorney, as well as now a stay-at-home mom. These candidates are pretty well in some sense defined. I mean, we've got a pretty clear choice between the two sides.

Do you feel that way or do you feel that there's not as clear a choice?

GAIL, ILLINOIS VOTER: I definitely think it's a clear choice, and I think that they did a wonderful job last night reiterating what their positions were.

Oftentimes in these debates, they get caught up in answering things beyond the question. I felt that both -- both Cheney and Lieberman did a very good job of sticking to what the issue was and giving their succinct opinions on them.

FLOCK: Sarah Noreen (ph), also a mom. You're an undecided voter. Did what you heard last night push you in one direction or another? You're starting to make up your mind yet?

SARAH NOREEN, ILLINOIS VOTER: I really feel like I still need some time to really delve into issues. I didn't come in with enough background to really weight whether what I was hearing from one candidate or another, was what I felt was the factual truth. However, it was -- what impressed me was the tone of the debate, the competency of both of the candidates in addressing the issues.

I felt -- I actually came away, I think, feeling a clearer understanding of what both parties' platform was from the vice presidential debate than I did from the presidential debate.

FLOCK: I think that's the key headline today, and I've got to ask you what your sense of it is. Why was this a better debate -- and almost everyone we've talked to has said this -- a better and more succinct, better debate than the presidential debate? John, have you got a sense for that?

STEWART: Absolutely. Two people, two men treating each other like gentlemen, with courtesy and respect, sticking on the issues. And I've said it before to everyone here, the possible leader of the free world, Al Gore, sighing, moaning, groaning, rolling his eyes just doesn't seem very -- very presidential to me, and we didn't see that last night. And I commend both Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney for not subscribing to that.

FLOCK: What do you think, Rosy? We're going to see that in the presidential debate next week.

ROSY: I think you should see that, because they were so -- they were no cordial and friendly, and I was able to absorb everything that they had to say. You know, there was no tension in the room like what we had last Tuesday or so. So I think we -- the presidential debate next week, we should adopt that kind of, you know, scenario.

FLOCK: Now, we were kicking it around here, and people have said this throughout the day: Gee, why don't they turn those tickets on end and make the vice presidential candidates the presidential?

Are we just wanting what we can't have there or is there some realistic notion that these guys are better qualified to be president?

DOUG: I feel that that is true. If you look at the background of the vice presidential candidates, I feel that Mr. Cheney is a much stronger Republican. I see much more of a leader in Mr. Cheney than I do out of Mr. Bush. And he's a very powerful man. I mean, he just has that stature of being a very powerful man.

FLOCK: Doug, I'm going to give you the last word on that, because we're out of time. I appreciate it very much, all of you coming, and sharing your thoughts with us today. As good as pundits, pundits in your own right here in the Chicago suburbs.

That's the latest from here, Natalie. Back to you.

ALLEN: All right, Jeff Flock, thanks so much.

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