WHO IS EVAN BAYH
AUGUST 26, 1996
Who is the keynote speaker? The son of a liberal Senator, Evan Bayh is the fiscally conservative Governor of Indiana, who is sometimes described as a "Republicrat." He talks with Margaret Warner about why he was chosen as the keynoter and what his vision of the Democratic Party is.
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
A RealAudio version of Gov. Bayh's Keynote speech is available.
An interview with Republican Keynote speaker Susan Molinari.
Complete NewsHour coverage of the Democratic National Convention.
Complete NewsHour coverage of the '96 elections.
Complete NewsHour coverage of the Republican National Convention in San Diego.
MARGARET WARNER: Welcome, Governor. Thanks for being with us.
GOV. EVAN BAYH, Indiana: Thank you, Margaret.
MARGARET WARNER: Why do you think you were chosen to be the keynoter tonight?
GOV. EVAN BAYH: You know, Margaret, I get asked that a lot, and I honestly don't know. I believe it has something to do with having a record in Indiana of balancing budgets but still being fiscally or socially compassionate, of cutting taxes for working people but still finding the means to provide more for education and health care and the other needs of our society, reforming welfare in a responsible way, and those kinds of things. So I--I think, although I haven't been told, you know, it probably has to do with the fact that I can speak with some authority about the President's efforts and what he hopes to do for our country.
MARGARET WARNER: So what's going to be the thrust of your speech?
GOV. EVAN BAYH: I'm going to speak about the importance of traditional virtues in our country, opportunity, responsibility, a new sense of community, and what we can do to give them new currency in our own time to meet the challenges of today. It's a generational theme about bringing these values forward to help us today give a better world to our kids with a lot of policy specifics too.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, your father, of course, Sen. Birch Bayh, was one of the leading Great Society liberals of his day. How does he feel about your evolution away from that?
GOV. EVAN BAYH: I think he--my father and I share the same values and the same principles, and I think that if he were with us here, he would say that it's natural, that the way in which the specific policies through which we go about implementing those values and principles should change. I think a lot about my nine-month-old twin sons, and I think that thirty or forty years from now, how could I possibly sit here and say today to them, look, here's what's going to be right for you? I hope to give them a sense of what their priorities are, the way, you now, decency, honesty, hard work, an approach to life. But the specific policies that will be right for their time will be much different than ours are today just as the policies of the 30's and 60's are not right today, so the values are the same, but the specific policies we should expect to change.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, how did your evolution come about? I mean, you ran your father's last unsuccessful campaign against Dan Quayle in 1980, and yet, eight years later, you were running for governor, promising a tax cut. How did your evolution come about?
GOV. EVAN BAYH: Margaret, we're all a product of our times, and in the 1960's, the economy was growing a lot faster, more revenue was coming in, people's incomes were rising every year. Now we have to struggle to tighten our belts just like families. People's incomes aren't rising quite as fast, and so I think fiscal discipline is more important today. Growing the economy is more important today. It's not as effortless as it used to be, and so the new realities of my time have led to new solutions that are a little bit different than they used to be.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, some Republicans in your state--and you've had to deal with a Republican-dominated state senate--I think it was the state Republican chairman asked about you said, well, he's been a pretty good Republican governor. Others have called you a “Republicrat.” How is the kind of fiscal conservatism that you're espousing and the way you govern, how is it different from a moderate Republican?
GOV. EVAN BAYH: Margaret, I'll tell you the difference. I view balancing the budget and fiscal responsibility as a necessary precondition to social compassion and progress. The people who get hurt first in our country, the poor, the sick, the young, are those who depend upon the government. So if we go bankrupt as a state or a country, they're the ones who get hurt first. If we're going to do more for education, more for health care, more for the environment, we only can do that if we have the money. And that means balancing our budget and growing our economy. So I think that the priorities would be a little bit different.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, it sounds to me as if you're talking about your motivation is different, but programmatically is it different from what a say moderate Republican would espouse?
GOV. EVAN BAYH: Well, I try and do what I think is right for our state, and for example, growing the economy and creating good jobs, I don't think it should come as a surprise that Democrats and Republican alike feel that's the right thing to do. I hope we've arrived at a point where balancing the budget is something that's not a partisan issue, we all agree, but I'll give you an example, and I may speak to this tonight. The President wants to balance the budget. His opponents claim they do too. The President wants to do it within the context of protecting Medicare and Medicaid, education, the things that we care about. His opponents want to go much further with deeper cuts that really would harm those things. So there are differences in achieving the objectives, even though the objectives may be somewhat the same.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me ask you a personal--a personal matter that relates to something that's going to happen tonight, which is Hillary Clinton's speech. Now, your wife also is a lawyer, was a corporate lawyer when you first got into politics, yet, she's avoided much of the same criticism leveled against the First lady. How has she done that?
GOV. EVAN BAYH: Well, I don't, I don't know, quite frankly, Margaret, but my wife has been actively involved, particularly with adult literacy. And I think some of the criticism leveled at our country's First Lady, frankly, has been a little unfair. It may be the result of the first time there being a professional, accomplished, talented woman as First Lady who, you know, wants to put her talent to good use. And so I think part of that may just be generational.
MARGARET WARNER: But your wife, as I read anyway, did give up, for instance, her corporate practice when you became Secretary of State because of the potential conflict but then when you became Governor, I understand, she stopped practicing actively altogether. Do you think that's the kind of choice that a First Lady even today has to make?
GOV. EVAN BAYH: Well, I think in this day and age you have to be very careful, and Susan has kept her professional career. She's teaching now, teaching law at Indiana University. She's also serving on a commission that the President has appointed her to that deals with the environment, not Indiana, so I think, yes, a spouse, I should include men in that too--
MARGARET WARNER: Yes, we should.
GOV. EVAN BAYH: --because there are many accomplished women who are elected to office today--a spouse can pursue a professional career but has to be, you know, sensitive and very cognizant of the potential pitfalls. And that's obviously something--a lot more sensitive today than it was even a few years ago.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, Indiana hasn't given its electoral votes to a Democrat, I don't think, since ‘64, LBJ. I saw a poll before the Republican convention that indicated that Clinton and Dole were neck and neck. Do you think really realistically that Bill Clinton could take a state like Indiana?
GOV. EVAN BAYH: Well, I think it's possible, particularly if he has the kind of victory nationwide that he might have if we come out of this convention strong. You know, he was very close four years ago, and the Republicans had to expend some considerable resources over the last three weeks to win our state by just 6 percent, so I think the fair answer, Margaret, is that it's possible, but you know, it's still tough.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, thanks, Governor, very much, and good luck tonight.
GOV. EVAN BAYH: Thank you.