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The 2nd Presidential Debate Part 6: Governor Bush and Vice President Gore

October 11, 2000 at 12:00 AM EDT


MR. LEHRER: Gentlemen, it’s time to go to the closing statements, and Vice President Gore, you have two minutes.

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: Jim, one of the issues that I would like to close with in my statement is education, because it’s an example of the overall approach that I think is important. This race is about values, it’s about change, it’s about giving choices to the American people. And Education is my number one priority, because I think that it’s the most important, big, major change that we can bring in our country.

I agree with Governor Bush that we should have new accountability; testing of students. I think that we should require states to test all students, test schools and school districts, and I think that we should go further and require teacher testing for new teachers, also. The difference is that while my plan starts with new accountability and maintains local control, it doesn’t stop there.

Because I want to give new choices to parents, to send their kids to college with a $10,000 tax deduction for College tuition, per child, per year. I want to reduce the size of the classrooms in this country — for one basic reason, so that students can get more one-on-one time with teachers. And the way to do that is first to recruit more teachers. I’ve a plan in my budget to recruit 100,000 new, highly qualified teachers and to help local school districts build new schools. I think that we have to put more emphasis on early learning and preschool.

Now, here is how that connects with all the rest of what we’ve been talking about. If you have — if you squander the surplus on a huge tax cut that goes mostly to those at the top, then you can’t make Education the top priority. If the tax cut is your number one, two, three and four priority, you can’t do Education You can’t do both, you have to choose. I choose Education and health care, the environment and retirement security. And I ask for your support.

JIM LEHRER: Governor Bush, two minutes.

GOV. GEORGE BUSH: Jim, thank you very much. Mr. Vice President, thank you very much. And I’d like to thank the folks here at Wake Forest. I want to thank you all for listening.

I’m running to get some things done for America. There’s too many issues left unresolved. There’s been too much finger pointing and too much name calling in Washington, D.C. I’d like to unite this country to get an agenda done that will speak to the hopes and aspirations of the future. I want to have an education system that sets high standards, local control of schools, and strong accountability. No child should be left behind in America.

I want to make sure we rebuild our military to keep the peace. I worry about morale in today’s military. The warning signs are clear; it’s time to have a new commander in chief who will rebuild the military, pay our men and women more and make sure they’re housed better, and have a focused mission for our military.

Once and for all, I want to do something about Medicare. The issue’s been too long on the table because it’s been a political issue. It’s time to bring folks together to say that all seniors will get prescription drug coverage. I want to do something about Social Security. It’s an important priority because now is the time to act, and we’re going to say to our seniors, our promises we’ve made to you will be promises kept.

But younger workers, in order to make sure the system exists tomorrow, younger workers ought to be able to take some of your own money and invest it in safe securities to get a better rate of return on that money. And finally, I do believe in tax relief. I believe we can set our priorities. I don’t believe, like the vice president does, in huge government. I believe in limited government. And by having a limited government and a focused government, we can send some of the money back to the people who pay the bills. I want to have tax relief for all people who pay the bills in America, because I think you can spend your money more wisely than the federal government can. Thank you for listening. I’m asking for your vote. And God bless.

JIM LEHRER: And we will return next Tuesday night, October 17th, from Washington University in St. Louis for the third and final debate. Thank you, Vice President Gore, Governor Bush. See you next week. For now, from Winston-Salem, I’m Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.

GOV. GEORGE BUSH: Good night. (Applause.)