|THE LAST DEBATE|
January 18, 2000
BILL BRADLEY: Racial profiling is particularly pernicious, because we're talking about people who pay their taxes, work hard, abide by the rules, and they are plucked out because of our inability to see beneath skin color or eye shape or ethnicity in this country, and stopped on a regular basis. If I were President of the United States, I would put an executive order in immediately that would end racial profiling in the federal government. I would work to get local police departments to keep data to be able to demonstrate that there was racial profiling. And then I'd stick the Justice Department after them to make sure they were going to abide by the law in which no racial profiling (applause)
AL GORE: I said at the beginning of my campaign for President that on the first day of the Gore presidency, I would issue an executive order to ban racial profiling; and the first civil rights bill introduced from the White House of the year 2001 would be a bill outlawing racial profiling. There's a lot of pain out there in this country on the part of African Americans and Latinos and Asian Americans who feel as if they have been singled out unfairly and sometimes in a very harsh way because of the way they look. That is unacceptable, and it's not necessary in order to have good community policing. Now, the fact is, we need more community police officers, more contacts between officers walking the beat and the leaders in each community. And we need more diverse police departments with African Americans and Latinos and others represented fully on the police force so the police force understands this community well.
BILL BRADLEY: You know, Al, I know that you would issue an order to end racial profiling if you were President of the United States. But we have a President now. You serve with him. I want you to walk down that hallway, walk into his office, and say, "sign this executive order today." (Applause)
SPOKESPERSON: Vice President Gore?
AL GORE: I don't think President Bill Clinton needs a lecture from Bill Bradley about how to stand up and fight for African Americans and Latinos in this country. (Applause)
SPOKESPERSON: Hopefully this question will be settled very soon, but if you were President now, would you favor allowing Elian Gonzalez to be with his father? Wouldn't family values favor reuniting him with his parents?
SPOKESPERSON: Mr. Bradley? Yes, sir?
BILL BRADLEY: Well, as an American, I wanted Elian Gonzalez to be in the United States. I said that when he came. There's a court proceeding going on. That court proceeding ought to work. As a father, I can understand why his father wants him in Cuba. The best answer would be for his father and Elian to be in the United States. But I think there's a wider point here. The tragedy of this young person has riveted the nation's attention. I want to make sure that we don't lose sight of that tragedy, because there are tragedies every day in this country with nearly 14 million children living in poverty on the streets of America. I believe we should take some of this goodwill and some of this determination to help and turn it to reducing and eliminating child poverty in this country. If Elian Gonzalez can be an inspiration to do that, then I think it will have a much longer-term effect than just simply one tragic incident, no matter how tragic it is.
AL GORE: I think that the question ought to be... I think the question ought to be very simply, what is in the best interest of this child? I think that the father should come here and stand on free soil to express the true feelings in his heart. I think we should remember and honor the fact that this child's mother lost her life, sacrificing her life in order to try to get her child's freedom. Now, if Castro keeps hiring these paid demonstrators to shout outside the father's window, how can we be sure that he is not speaking under the threat of intimidation? If he is not allowed to come here and speak freely, then the matter should be addressed in our domestic relations courts that have expertise and experience and the body of law by which we traditionally answer those questions according to due process.
SPOKESPERSON: Vice President Gore, this question is for you. Under what is colloquially known as the wet foot-dry foot law-- which, in essence, means that a Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil can stay-- that is not the case for a Haitian immigrant, that is not the case for a Mexican immigrant, that is not the case for a Chinese immigrant. Do you think that this law should be expanded to include all of these groups? Or do you think this law should be halted?
AL GORE: I think that Communist dictatorships are treated differently for a legitimate reason. I do think that underlying your question is the stark reality that in some times past, Haitian immigrants have not been treated according to a fair standard.
SPOKESPERSON: So China should be the exception as well?
AL GORE: No, no. I would say the same of Chinese immigrants. And recently the child of a Haitian immigrant who had been sent back was returned when the INS reversed itself and applied the same standards there, which it should always do. But I think that the law which singles out the pervasive effects of a Communist dictatorship is a difference that is justified, and it has been reflected in some other situations where Communist dictators have been calling the shots.
SPOKESPERSON: Mr. Bradley?
BILL BRADLEY: I basically agree with Al on that. I think that there's a wider issue, though, here, which is immigration generally and the role it plays in our country. And people who come to our shores as refugees have a right to remain because they're fleeing tyranny-- not just Communist tyranny, but tyranny. I think we ought to assure that they can stay and have the same legal rights as everybody else.
JIM LEHRER: The Iowa caucuses are next Monday.