PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 16, 1996
MR. DOLE: Let me first give you a sports update. The Braves, one; Cardinals, nothing -- early on.
I want to thank you and I want to thank everybody here tonight, and I want a special thanks to my wife, Elizabeth and my daughter, Robin, for their love and support, and thank the people who are listening and watching all over America.
In 20 days, you will help decide who will lead this country into the next century. It's an awesome responsibility. And you must ask yourself do you know enough about the candidates. You used to know as much as possible about each of us. Sometimes the views have been distorted and millions and millions of negative -- dollars in negative advertising spent distorting my views, but I hope tonight you'll get a better feel of who Bob Dole is what he's all about.
And I think first you should -- I should understand that the question on your mind is do I understand your problem? But I understand it if -- it occurred to me and I might just say that I'm from a large family. I got lots of relatives. And they're good, average, middle class hard-working Americans. They live all across the country. They're not all Republicans. Maybe all but one.
But in any event, I understand the problem -- whether it's two parents working because one has to pay the taxes and one has to provide for the family, whether it's a single parent who just barely pays the pressing bills, or whether you're worried about an education for your children or going to the best schools, or whether you're worried about safe playgrounds, drug-free schools, crime-free schools.
This is what this election is all about. And hopefully tonight, when we conclude this debate, you will have a better understanding and the viewing and listening audience will have a better understanding. Thank you.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. President, two minutes, opening statement.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I was going to applaud, too.
Well, thank you, Jim, and thanks to the people of San Diego for giving us this opportunity to have another discussion about the decision we all face in front of people who will make the decision. Again, I will say I'll do my best to make this a discussion of ideas and issues, not insults. What really matters is what happens to your future and what happens to our country as we stand on the brink of a new century, a time of extraordinary possibility.
I have a simple philosophy that I tried to follow for the last four years: Do what creates opportunity for all, what reinforces responsibility from all of us and what will help us build a community where everybody's got a role to play and a place at the table.
Compared to four years ago, we're clearly better off. We've got 10 1/2 million more jobs; the deficit's been reduced by 60 percent; incomes are rising for the first time in a decade; the crime rates, the welfare rolls are falling; we're putting 100,000 more police on the street; 60,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers have been denied handguns.
But that progress is only the beginning. What we really should focus on tonight is what we still have to do to help the American people make the most of this future that's out there. I think what really matters is what we can do to help build strong families. Strong families need a strong economy. To me, that means we have to go on and balance this budget while we protect Medicare and Medicaid and education and the environment. We should give a tax cut targeted to child rearing and education, to buying a first home and paying for health care. We ought to help protect our kids from drugs and guns and gangs and tobacco. We ought to help move a million people from welfare to work. And we ought to create the finest education system in the world, where every 18-year-old can to on to college, and all of our younger children have great educational opportunities.
If we do those things, we can build that bridge to the 21st century. That's what I hope to get to talk about tonight.