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GOP Debate Excerpts

December 03, 1999|Associated Press

Highlights of the debate among Republican presidential candidates: conservative activist Gary Bauer, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, publisher Steve Forbes, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, former ambassador Alan Keyes and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

On raising the Social Security eligibility age:

FORBES: "It's typical of the political culture today to make promises and then break the promises. And Gov. Bush the other day on 'Meet the Press' said he would consider raising the retirement age. It's already been raised from 65 to 67. That's a betrayal."

BUSH: "I want to read something real quick. 'Alas, the unaffordable promises have to be scaled back. And the best way to do that is to gradually raise the age at which one may collect his full benefits. Those now in their 20s would not be eligible until they're 67 or 68.' The author of that? Mr. Steve Forbes.

"I would hope we wouldn't have to raise the age. I definitely wouldn't on those who receive benefits today and those who are near retirement."

FORBES: "Well that quote, I think, was written 20-some-odd years ago when the system was in crisis."

On abortion:

BAUER: "I don't think I'm at odds with the majority at all. But I must tell you that if I was it wouldn't make any difference. This is a fundamental question. It's about whether or not our unborn children are part of the American family, protected by the Constitution and Declaration of Independence."

On defense:

MCCAIN: "The question is not spending more dollars. The question is spending money on programs and projects we need, eliminating those that we didn't."

On foreign policy:

KEYES: "Over the course of the last several months, we've learned a lot of information that suggests that the propaganda that was unhappily spread throughout the media about atrocities in Kosovo was greatly exaggerated. The Pentagon has admitted it. News sources have admitted it. Teams have been in now and have discovered that a lot of these things did not have foundation."

On Bush's tax proposal:

HATCH: "I'm against taxes. I was one of a handful who convinced Ronald Reagan that we should cut marginal tax rates from 70% down to 28% by 1986. I agree with Gov. Bush, on the one hand, that he's trying to cut taxes $1.14 trillion over the next 10 years. . . . On the other hand, he wants to do it within this same lousy system that we have."

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