VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 9, 1996
JIM LEHRER: Gentlemen, that was the last question, so now we go to the closing statements. There will be three minutes each. And, Mr. Kemp, you're first.
MR. KEMP: Thank you, Jim. And thanks to the people of St. Petersburg for a - fantastic hospitality, and my friend, Al Gore, for a vigorous debate.
I think this is the most exciting time in the history of the world to be alive. We have lived through what Jean Kirkpatrick called the bloodiest century in mankind's history. We have defeated, in this system of ours, fascism, Naziism, communism, socialism is defunct or debunked around the world, the evil of apartheid has ended. There's only one last question remaining for the next century, indeed, the next millennium: Can we in America make the world's greatest liberal democracy, this democratic experiment in private property, limited government limited government, the rule of law, respect for families and traditional Judeo-Christian values work so it can be a blessing to our country and a blessing to the rest of the world?
With all due respect to this administration, they've got a foreign policy in disarray. They have a lack of credibility around the world. Weakness, as I said earlier, is provocative, and clearly this economy is not performing up to the standards that we would expect from this great nation going into the most exciting global economy the world has ever known.
There's something amiss. Our culture seems to be weakening all around us. Families are under tremendous pressure. People do not feel safe in their homes. A mother doesn't feel safe sending her child to school. Our schools are not educating. It's not the problem of the teachers; they are overworked, and my daughter will tell you they're underpaid. And we know that. They need to be empowered.
We need to reform education. We need to reform welfare. We need to reform litigation and regulation. And we certainly need to reform this tax code that is a product of this terrible century of war and recession and inflation.
It can be done. We need somebody who understands the potential of the American people, that we're not just doing well for ourselves, we need to do well for the rest of the world because they're looking at us and we need to make it work in every neighborhood and community in America and for every family so that no one, as Bob Dole said in his San Diego acceptance speech, is left behind.
Bob Dole, as I said earlier, is a man of courage, a man of principles, a man who crawled out of a foxhole on Reaver's Ridge in 1945 to save a wounded brethren.
The Bible says, "No greater love hath a man than he give his life." Well Bob did, just about. He'd been through the valley of the shadow, and he, as commander-in-chief can take this country with the courage of Churchill, the principles of Lincoln and the indefatigable optimism and spirit that this nation expects from its commander-in-chief and the next president of the United States, Bob Dole.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Vice President?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you very much, Mr. Lehrer. Thanks again to the people of St. Petersburg, and thanks again to Jack Kemp. I have enormous respect for Jack Kemp and for Bob Dole. They're good men.
I don't agree with their plan. I've tried to make that clear tonight, and one reason I've tried to make it clear is that in just 27 days the United States of America has an important choice to make between two approaches to the future of this country.
We have a plan that will create millions more jobs, bring the deficits down further and balance the budget while protecting Medicare, protecting Medicaid, protecting and preserving the environment, our air, our water, the Everglades, the Tongass, the Mohave Desert in California, the Utah Red Rocks area, all of which have been protected by President Bill Clinton.
We also have a plan to expand access to education. There's a family in the audience tonight, the McNeil family, who lives right here in St. Petersburg. Both parents are teachers. They're not rich in money, but they have strong values, and they value education. Their oldest son is a freshman at St. Petersburg Junior College. Their younger son, Roderick, is a sophomore in the same high school that Don McNeil teaches at.
Roderick is concerned that he may not be able to get the tuition he needs to go to college when the time comes. Our plan give a $1,500 tax credit to make that junior college essentially free, and a $10,000 tax deduction to make it so that no American family - or almost no family - will have to pay taxes on the money they pay for college tuition.
This plan also gives tax breaks on the sale of a home, up to $500,000 in profit tax free. It gives a new break for first-time homebuyers, and again, all in the context of a balanced budget. We have seen progress during the last four years because policies like these have been working. This risky scheme that I've described tonight has been said by many objective observers to not add up. It would be a serious risk.
Our plan, by contrast, has been working and will work more. We want to build a bridge to the 21st century, and we want it to be strong enough and broad enough for all families to cross, and we want it to lead to a brighter future for America because our best days are ahead.
JIM LEHRER: Thank you.