VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 9, 1996
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Kemp, some are saying these days that something's gone terribly wrong with the American soul, that we've become too mean, too selfish, too uncaring, and the spitting incident, how it was handled, the baseball player used as a recent example. What do you think about that?
MR. KEMP: Civility, responsibility, racial reconciliation, healing the wounds of our country has to be one of the greatest and most singularly important goals for this country here on the edge of the 21st century. How in the name of American democracy can we say to Eastern Europe that democratic capitalism will work there if we can't make it work in East LA or East Harlem or East Palo Alto, California? How can we tell South Africa and the new Mandela government that democracy and private property and limited government and the rule of law and civility will work there if it's not working in our own backyard here at home or the South Bronx?
How can America go into the next century and leave so many people behind? USA Today, just a few weeks ago, did a study. They said the affluent are doing very well in America - the "haves" - but the "have nots" and the poor are being left behind.
It's a giant - in my opinion - zero-sum game. Kind of like musical chairs when we were young boys and girls growing up, and it seemed like when the music stopped the big guy elbowed out the little guy from that last chair. That's not America, folks. We need more chairs. We need a bigger table. We need a greater banquet. We need to create more wealth. We need to create more jobs and more access to credit and capital and educational choice and opportunity for any man or woman and child to be what God meant them to be, not what Washington, DC wants them to be.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I think, Mr. Lehrer, that throughout much of his career Jack Kemp has been a powerful and needed voice against the kind of coarseness and incivility that you referred to in the question. I think it's an extremely valuable service to have a voice within the Republican Party who says, "We ought to be one nation. We ought to cross all of the racial and ethnic and cultural barriers." I think that is a very important message to deliver.
And we ought to speak out against these violations of civility when they do occur. You asked about the incident involving Roberto Alomar. I won't hesitate to tell you what I think. I think he should have been severely disciplined, suspended perhaps, immediately. I don't understand why that action was not taken. But the same could be said of so many incidents in all kinds of institutions in our society.
But I complement Mr. Kemp for the leadership he has shown in moving us away from that kind of attitude.
MR. KEMP: Well, I thank you, Al. I mean that very, very sincerely. But I'm trying to make a bigger point - that civility cannot return to our country unless every person feels that they have an equal shot at the American dream, that if you're born in this country to be a mezzo-soprano, or a master carpenter, or a school teacher - like my daughter - or a professional football quarterback, nothing should be in your way. And removing those barriers is what Bob Dole is all about - moving our country forward and leaving no one behind.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Vice President, do you agree with that thesis - that in order to solve the problem of civility, the problems in the American soul, you have to - it's an economic problem more than it is something else?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I think that economics is one of the single most important parts of this problem, that's why we're focusing on tax credits, to hire one million more people coming off welfare in the inner city. That's why we're focusing on an economic policy that has already created 10-1/2 million new jobs and is going to create millions more within the context, again, of a balanced budget that protects important programs.
We have focused especially on the most distressed areas because we cannot leave anyone behind. Our empowerment zones and enterprise communities, the tax credits that will encourage the formation of new businesses, the new approach by the Small Business Administration to get more loans out to individuals that have not had equal access to capital in the past - these are parts of the plan.
Another part of it is the Community Development Financial Institutions. And the - and a law that says deposits that are made in a community, in the inner city, say, should be kept in the community, not entirely, but some percentage of them should be kept there, that prevents that money being taken from the community and invested in some go-go investment on the other side of the world. And when they invest in the community, they find that there's a better payback rate, more small businesses are created, and the community improves. That's happening in America today - not fast enough, but faster than before, and we think we can accelerate it with our plan.
MR. KEMP: There really is no separation between a strong community and a strong economy, and you can't have a strong economy without strong communities and strong families.
The word "economics" in Greek came from the word "family" or "law or custom of the family." A family without a job, where both breadwinners are away from home, they cannot spend time with their children or can't send the child to the school of their choice, rather than just the choice of the federal bureaucracy, cannot possibly be as strong as a family that has the nurture, the love, the dignity and the justice that goes along with one breadwinner, a strong job. And if that man or woman wants to work, it's their choice, not just to pay taxes.
So we need both. We need strong community -- we need strong schools. We need schools that nurture the type of discipline and respect from teachers and parents, and Bob Dole wants to empower the public school districts and the teachers, not the federal bureaucracy, at the Department of Education.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, Senator Dole has said that he wants to abolish the Department of Education. He voted against the creation of Head Start. He vigorously opposed the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was the first law that President Clinton signed as president. Now Senator Dole has suggested that he would repeal the Family and Medical Leave Act if he had the chance if he was elected president.
We believe in more educational opportunity and measures to strengthen families not restrict their access to education.