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THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Bush: 'A New Spirit'; Gore: 'Crucial Time'

HERE ARE EXCERPTS, provides by the Federal News Service, from the presidential debate

October 04, 2000

Federal Budget

Lehrer: . . . when you said that you questioned whether or not Governor Bush was experienced enough to be president, you were talking about strictly policy differences?

Gore: Yes, Jim. I said that his tax cut plan, for example, raises the question of whether it's the right choice for the country, and let me give you an example of what I mean.

Under Gov. Bush's tax cut proposal, he would spend more money on tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% than all of the new spending that he proposes for education, health care, prescription drugs and national defense all combined. Now, I think those are the wrong priorities.

Now, under my proposal, for every dollar that I propose in spending for things like education and health care, I will put another dollar into middle-class tax cuts. And for every dollar that I spend in those two categories, I'll put $2 toward paying down the national debt.

Bush: Well, let me just say, obviously tonight we're going to hear some phony numbers about what I think and what we ought to do. People need to know that over the next 10 years, there's going to be $25 trillion of revenue that comes into our Treasury, and we anticipate spending $21 trillion. And my plan says why don't we pass $1.3 trillion of that back to the people who pay the bills. Surely we can afford 5% of the $25 trillion that are coming to the Treasury [for] the hard-working people who pay the bills. There's a difference of opinion. My opponent thinks the government--the surplus is the government's money. That's not what I think. I think it's the hard-working people in America's money, and I want to share some of that money with you so you've got more money to build and save and dream for your families.

Gore: . . . The governor used the phrase "phony numbers," but if you--if you look at the plan and add the numbers up, these numbers are correct. He spends more money for tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% than all of his new spending proposals for health care, prescription drugs, education and national defense all combined.

Abortion

Lehrer: Gov. Bush, if elected president, would you try to overturn the FDA's approval last week of the abortion pill, RU-486?

Bush: I don't think a president can do that. I was disappointed in the ruling because I think abortions ought to be more rare in America. And I'm worried that that pill will create more abortion--will cause more people to have abortions.

This is a very important topic, and it's a very sensitive topic because a lot of good people disagree on the issue. I think what the next president ought to do is to promote a culture of life in America--as the life of the elderly and the life of those living all across the country, life of the unborn. As a matter of fact, I think a noble goal for this country is that every child born and unborn ought to be protected in law and welcomed in life.

But I know we've got to change a lot of minds before we get there in America. What I do believe is we can find good common ground on issues like parental notification or parental consent, and I know we need to ban partial-birth abortions. This is a place where my opponent and I have strong disagreements. I believe banning partial-birth abortion would be a positive step toward reducing the number of abortions in America.

. . . Surely this nation can come together to promote the value of life. Surely we can fight off these laws that will encourage to--to allow doctors to take the lives of our seniors. Surely we can work together to create a culture of life so some of these youngsters who feel like they can take a neighbor's life with a gun will understand that that's not the way America is meant to be. And surely we can find common ground to reduce the number of abortions in America.

Gore: Well, Jim, the FDA took 12 years, and I do support that decision. They determined it was medically safe for the women who use that drug.

Now this is indeed a very important issue. First of all, on the issue of partial-birth or so-called late-term abortion, I would sign a law banning that procedure, provided that doctors have the ability to save a woman's life or to act if her health is severely at risk.

And that's not the main issue. The main issue is whether or not the Roe v. Wade decision's going to be overturned. I support a woman's right to choose. My opponent does not. It is important, because the next president is going to appoint three, maybe even four, justices of the Supreme Court. And Gov. Bush has declared to the anti-choice groups that he will appoint justices in the mold of [Antonin] Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who are known for being the most vigorous opponents of a woman's right to choose.

Lehrer: Governor . . . [to] make sure I understand your position on RU-486. If you're elected president . . . you won't support legislation to overturn this?

Bush: I don't--I don't think a president can unilaterally overturn it. I think the FDA's made its decision . . .

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