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Vice Presidential Debate: Reaction

October 10, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT


MARGARET WARNER: Vice President Al Gore joined his boss on the campaign trail today in Knoxville, Tennessee. President Clinton had nothing but praise for Gore’s performance last night.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: The Vice President, last night I called to congratulate him on his debate, and I said that Mr. Kemp found out something that I found out a long time ago. It’s just as well not to be on the other side of an argument with Al Gore.

MARGARET WARNER: Jack Kemp, meanwhile, met up with Bob Dole in Cincinnati, their starting point for a two-day bus tour. Dole had equally high praise for running mate.

SEN. BOB DOLE: Let me thank Jack publicly for the great job you did last night in the debate. Support for economic package jumped eight points last night because of Jack’s performance. Every time there’s a question he gave them the economic package. And we got it right. We believe in you, and it is your money. It’s your money. It’s your money. (applause)

MARGARET WARNER: Both sides claimed victory in last night’s debate. Public opinion polls suggested more voters gave Vice President Gore the advantage but gave Kemp points for his civility and passion.

JACK KEMP: Last night you saw about as clearly as you possibly could two visions of America. My friend, Al Gore, said Bill Clinton is doing the very best job he can. And you know what? He’s right. This is the best Bill Clinton can do. Bob Dole can do a lot better.

MARGARET WARNER: During his appearance today, Vice President Gore repeated many of the themes he had stressed last night.

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: Thank you very much. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. You don’t know, you don’t know how that warms my heart. It’s good to be home. It’s great to receive that kind of rousing welcome, and I’m just so grateful to all of you for being here and being a part of it. Last night, Jack Kemp and I debated–(applause)–last night Jack Kemp and I debated the future. This morning, Bill Clinton and I are building the future. (applause)

MARGARET WARNER: Gore said he and the President would push for $100 million in new federal funding to expand the capabilities of the Internet and that nearby Oakridge Laboratories would share in those research dollars. Oakridge would face a very different future, Gore said, if Bob Dole became President.

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: Government laboratories, such as the Oakridge National Laboratory, have played a vital role in catalyzing this nation’s technological development. Now, we have heard from the President’s opponent that he wishes to completely eliminate the Department of Energy.

When asked for a clarification of what that would mean, he said, well, we will keep the military part of the budget but the civilian part of the budget is really on the chopping block. Well, Oakridge gets 3/4 of all of its budget from the civilian part of the Department of Energy. When asked for further clarification, he said, “The laboratories in New Mexico are off the table”. That’s nice. I think that’s a wise decision. But what about Oakridge National Laboratory? Don’t give us the mumbo jumbo about this will all magically work out somehow.

We want a commitment to Oakridge National Laboratory. (applause) So to those on the other side who have proposed measures that would clearly shut down the Oakridge National Laboratory, I have a message on behalf of the President and myself in words that you’ve heard before: We won’t let them.

MARGARET WARNER: While Kemp didn’t talk about eliminating the Department of Energy today, he did stress the overall theme of streamlining the federal government.

JACK KEMP: They are defending the indefensible. The United States Tax Code is 83 years old, seven and a half million workers long, it breeds corruption, cynicism, contradiction, and confusion. It’s holding back the genius of the American people and our American private enterprise system. Bob Dole and Jack Kemp will repeal all 83 years of it, all seven and a half million words, and we’ll start downsizing government, where it needs it the most, and at the IRS, and it’s controlled over the lives of the American people, our businesses, our farms, and our incomes.

MARGARET WARNER: The Republicans also added a third voice to their campaign team today, that of former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell.

COLIN POWELL: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a great pleasure to be here with you in Cincinnati and to be back in Ohio, and I want to thank my dear friend, Jack Kemp, for that wonderful introduction, and how about that speech he just gave? I mean, is there anything that causes this guy to wind down? He’s fabulous. He’s fabulous. And he did a great job last night, didn’t he? (applause) My friends, I’m here to lend my support today to the candidacy of Bob Dole and Jack Kemp to be the next President and Vice President of the United States of America.

MARGARET WARNER: The presidential candidates will continue to campaign hard for the next few days before beginning preparations for their second and final debate next Wednesday, a town hall style forum in San Diego.