PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 6, 1996
JIM LEHRER: Senator Dole, if you could single out one thing that you would like for the voters to have in their mind about President Clinton on a policy matter or a personal matter, what would it be? Something to know about him, understand it, and appreciate it.
MR. DOLE: If I say anything, it's going to be misconstrued. I don't think there's even a race between the -- it's about our vision for America.
I happen to like President Clinton personally. I am addressing him all evening as Mr. President. I said in 1992 he didn't extend that courtesy to President Bush. But I respect the presidency. I have served under a number of presidents. They all have their strengths, and they all have their weaknesses. So I'd rather talk about my strengths. I think I have my strengths. And I think the best thing going for Bob Dole is that Bob Dole keeps his word. It's a question between trust and fear.
And I would say I think, Mr. President, about all you've got going in this campaign is fear. You're spending millions and millions of dollars in negative ads frightening senior citizens. I know this to be a fact because I had one telling me last week ``Senator, don't cut my Medicare.'' I'm trying to save your Medicare, just as I rescued Social Security with a bipartisan commission. I had relatives on Medicare. I used to sign welfare checks for my grandparents. I know all about poverty and all about need and all about taking care of people, and that's been my career in the United States Senate.
And I'll keep my word on the economic package. If I couldn't cut taxes and balance the budget at the same time I wouldn't look you in the eye tonight in your living room or wherever you may be and say that this is good for America. People will tell you who served with Bob Dole that, agree or disagree, he kept his word. That's what this race is all about.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'd like the American people to know that I have worked very hard to be on their side and to move this country forward, and we're better off than we were four years ago. But the most important thing is my plan for the 21st century is a better plan. A targeted tax cut; a real commitment to educational reform; a deep commitment to making welfare reform work with incentives to the private sector move people from welfare to work. Now we have to create those jobs now that we're requiring people to go to work. A commitment to continuing step-by-step health-care reform, with the next step helping people who are between jobs to access health care and not lose it just because they're out of work for a while; a commitment to grow the economy while protecting the environment.
That's what I'd like them to know about me, that I've gotten up every day and worked for the American people and worked so that their children could have their dreams come true. And I believe we've got the result to show we're on the right track.
The most important thing is I believe we've got the right ideas for the future. And like Senator Dole -- I like Senator Dole. You can probably tell we like each other; we just see the world in different ways, and you folks out there are going to have to choose who you think is right.
MR. DOLE: Well, I'd say that, you know, the first homeless bill in the Senate was the Dole-Byrd bill, part of the Byrd-Dole bill -- I can't remember who was in control then.
I remember working with Senator Rybicoff from Connecticut on the hospice program, and now, 2500 hospices.
As I said, I remember -- I've worked all my life, while I was in the Congress -- I left on June the 11th because I wanted the American people to know that I was willing to give up something. President Clinton ran for governor in 1990 and said he was going to fill out his term, and he didn't. He's president, so I guess it's a little better deal. But I wanted the American people to know that I was willing to give up something -- it wasn't just getting more power and more power, so I rolled the dice. I put my career on the line because I really believe the future of America is on the line.
We can give you all these numbers; they don't mean a thing if you are out of work, you have nothing to eat, or you can't have medical care, or you're holding a crack baby in your arms right now. What do you do next?
You know, America's best days are ahead of us. I've seen the tough times. I know they can be better. And I'll lead America to a brighter future.