PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 16, 1996
JIM LEHRER: All right, the next question is for Senator Dole, and it's in this section. Yes, sir.
RON KITE: Ron Kite, minister.
MR. DOLE: Hi, Ron.
RON KITE: This great nation has been established by the founding fathers, who possessed a very strong Christian beliefs and godly principles. If elected president of the United States, what would you do to return this nation to these basic principles? And also, do you feel that the office of the president has the responsibility to set the role example to inspire our young people?
MR. DOLE: Well, no doubt about it, our founding fathers had a great deal of wisdom. And in addition to what you mentioned, they also were concerned about this all-powerful central government in Washington, D.C., that would in effect confiscate your property.
So I carry around in my pocket - I can't pull it out, I'd violate the rules a copy of the Tenth Amendment, which says that we ought to return power to the states and power to the people - people here. You ought to make more decisions.
Honor, duty and country - that's what America is all about. Certainly the president of the United States - in the highest office in the world, the most important office in the world - has a responsibility to young people, which we talked about earlier - to everyone, by example. And when it comes to public ethics, he has a public responsibility. When you have 30-some in your administration who've either left or are being investigated or in jail or whatever, then you've got an ethical problem. It's public ethics - not talking about private, we're talking about public ethics - when you have 900 files gathered up by some guy who was a bouncer in a bar and hired as a security officer to collect files.
In Watergate, I know a person who went to jail for looking at one file, one FBI file. There are 900 sequestered in the White House. Nine hundred! People like you. Why should they be rifling through your files? So the president has a great responsibility. That's one that I understand and would certainly carry out.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: This is the most religious, great country in history, and yet, interestingly enough, we have the most religious freedom of any country in the world, including the freedom not to believe. And now we have all these people - just up the road in Los Angeles County we've got people from 150 different racial and ethnic groups, and they've got tons of different religions. But the fundamental tenets of virtually every religion are the same.
And what I've tried to do is to support policies that would respect religion, and then help parents inculcate those values to their children. Let me very briefly give you some examples.
One of my proudest moments was signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says the government's got to bend over backwards before we interfere with religious practice. So I changed a Justice Department effort to get a church to pay back a man's tithe because he was bankrupt when he gave it.
I supported character education programs in our schools, drug-free schools programs. I supported giving parents a V-chip on their television so if they don't want their young kids to watch things they shouldn't watch, they wouldn't have to. That's the kind of thing we need to do, give people like you and our families the power to give those values to our children.
MR. DOLE: Well, I think it's - you know, before I came in tonight, my wife and daughter and I had a prayer because if it's God's will, whatever happens, if it's God's will, it will happen.
A constitutional amendment for voluntary prayer in school in my view would be a great idea. I support it and the president opposes it. I mean it seems to me the president, whoever the president may be, this is one of his highest responsibilities. People look to the president of the United States more than any other person in America and that's the way it's always been and that's the way it always will be.