This debate was burned into my brain as soon as I heard it. This debate was on foreign policy. This was only the first question, but it was so telling. Bush starts off with the right answer, rambles awhile around education and social security, and ends with the wrong answer - namely that his foreign policy is Dick Cheney. It pays to pay attention to what the candidates are saying no matter what party you belong to.
Debate Transcript - October 11, 2000
The Second Gore-Bush Presidential Debate
MODERATOR: Let's welcome the candidates, Governor Bush and Vice President Gore. Good evening, from Wake Chapel at Wake Forest University at Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I'm Jim Lehrer of the News Hour on PBS. Welcome to this second election 2000 debate between the Republican candidate for president, George W. Bush of Texas, and the Democratic candidate, Vice President Al Gore. These debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The format and the rules are those negotiated by representatives of the two campaigns. Only the subjects tonight and the questions are mine. The format tonight is that of a conversation. The only prevailing rule is that no single response can ever, ever exceed two minutes. The prevailing rule for the audience here in the hall is as always, absolute quiet, please. Good evening, Governor Bush, Vice President Gore. The end of our 90 minutes last week in Boston, the total time each of you took was virtually the same. Let's see if we can do the same tonight, or come close. Governor Bush, the first question goes to you. One of you is about to be elected the leader of the single-most powerful nation in the world, economically, financially, militarily, diplomatically, you name it. Have you formed any guiding principles for exercising this enormous power?
BUSH: I have, I have. First question is what's in the best interests of the United States? What's in the best interests of our people? When it comes to foreign policy that will be my guiding question. Is it in our nation's interests? Peace in the Middle East is in our nation's interests. Having a hemisphere that is free for trade and peaceful is in our nation's interests. Strong relations in Europe is in our nation's interest. I've thought a lot about what it means to be the president. I also understand that an administration is not one person, but an administration is dedicated citizens who are called by the president to serve the country, to serve a cause greater than self, and so I've thought about an administration of people who represent all America, but people who understand my compassionate and conservative philosophy. I haven't started naming names except for one person, and that's Mr. Richard Cheney who I thought did a great job the other night. He's a vice presidential nominee who represents -- I think people got to see why I picked him. He's man of solid judgment and he's going to be a person to stand by my side. One of the things I've done in Texas is I've been able to put together a good team of people. I've been able to set clear goals. The goals ought to be an education system that leaves no child behind, Medicare for our seniors, a Social Security system that's safe and secure, foreign policy that's in our nation's interest, and a strong military, and then bring people together to achieve those goals. That's what a Chief Executive Officer does. So I've thought long and hard about the honor of being the President of the United States.
MODERATOR: Vice President Gore?
GORE: Yes, Jim. I've thought a lot about that particular question, and I see our greatest national strength coming from what we stand for in the world. I see it as a question of values. It is a great tribute to our founders that 224 years later this nation is now looked to by the peoples on every other continent and the peoples from every part of this earth as a kind of model for what their future could be. And I don't think that's just the kind of exaggeration that we take pride in as Americans. It's really true, even the ones that sometimes shake their fists at us. As soon as they have a change that allows the people to speak freely, they're wanting to develop some kind of blueprint that will help them be like us more, freedom, free markets, political freedom. So I think first and foremost our power ought to be wielded to in ways that form a more perfect union. The power of example is America's greatest power in the world. And that means, for example, standing up for human rights. It means addressing the problems of injustice and inequity, along the lines of race and ethnicity here at home, because in all these other places around the world where they're having these terrible problems, when they feel hope, it is often because they see in us a reflection of their potential. So we've got to enforce our civil rights laws. We've got to deal with things like racial profiling. And we have to keep our military strong. We have the strongest military, and I'll do whatever is necessary, if I'm president, to make sure that it stays that way. But our real power comes, I think, from our values.
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