March 14, 2000
Vice President Al Gore considers issues such as oil prices, abortion and gun control.
JIM LEHRER: OK. A taxes question. Gasoline prices are on the way up. One of the things that Governor Bush has suggested -- the possibility at least -- of -- of rolling over all or part -- rolling back over all or part of the 1993 gasoline tax -- 4.3 cent increase in the gasoline tax, and a lot of people call it the Gore tax, because you cast the tie vote on that. How do you feel -- first of all -- about rolling back that tax?
|Rising gas prices a concern|
| AL GORE: Well, first of all, I'm very proud of that vote. That vote was the tie-breaking vote, which ended up 51 to 50, by which we got rid of the Bush/Quayle economic catastrophe and put in place the economic recovery plan that has caused the strongest economy in the history of the United States. So I'm very, very proud of that vote, and of course, you know, 4 cents a gallon is 1/5 of what the Texas tax on gasoline is -- 20 cents a gallon -- is he proposing to roll that back? |
JIM LEHRER: So you're not in favor of doing this?
AL GORE: Well, I -- you know -- I don't think that it is --
JIM LEHRER: Is it a problem? Do you consider --
AL GORE: I think that high gasoline prices definitely are a problem -- absolutely.
JIM LEHRER: For whom?
AL GORE: For the people that have to buy the gasoline.
JIM LEHRER: What about those in the environment movement who say this is terrific because it'll cut consumption and that means cleaner air, et cetera?
AL GORE: Well, see, I think that the best way to use the tax code is to give incentives for the quicker introduction of the new technologies that will allow us to burn far less gasoline and other kinds of fuels. I've put forward the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles -- for example -- and here in a short time you're going to see some new advances in speeding up the introduction of the new technologies that are going to allow us to continue improving our standard of living without increasing pollution -- indeed, while decreasing pollution.
But now on the gasoline prices, this is a serious problem, and I've been involved in trying to get some relief there, and (Energy) Secretary Richardson and others in the Clinton/Gore administration have been tentatively successful in persuading some of the large OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) producers to change their policy and increase production, which will take the pressure off these short supplies and reduce the price at their next meeting.
JIM LEHRER: It's already been written that this could be a huge issue between you and Governor Bush in the fall campaign. Do you agree?
AL GORE: I don't know. I mean, I think any time gasoline prices are going up it's a matter for great concern.
|Abortion is a main election issue|
|JIM LEHRER: How important do you think the abortion issue should be in this campaign? |
AL GORE: Well, given the fact that whoever is elected president will probably be appointing three justices of the Supreme Court -- maybe more -- and shaping the opinion of the Supreme Court for the next 30 to 40 years on the issue of a woman's right to choose, civil rights and other issues -- I think that it's very important. There's no question that there's a pretty clear contrast between my position and Governor Bush's position.
I support a woman's right to choose, and I will not have it undermined or weakened or taken away. And he has obviously pledged to Pat Robertson that he will do his best to take away a woman's right to choose. He made it plain that he supports the extremist language of the Republican platform last time around, which doesn't even carve out any exceptions on this and will set out to appoint -- he says -- his favorite justice is Justice Scalia -- and that's a code for saying that he would appoint justices that would overturn Roe v. Wade. It's just as clear to say that that's one of the main issues in this election. There's a lot of passion from both sides that's going into this.
JIM LEHRER: And just so we understand it straight on, you will not appoint anybody to the Supreme Court who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?
AL GORE: Now, Jim, you know better than that. I have said I wouldn't support -- you can't even quit from smiling there -- you know this stuff so well. I'm not going to have a litmus test for a Supreme Court nomination if I have the privilege of making appointments to the Supreme Court, but I will insist upon justices who have an interpretation of the Constitution that's in keeping with the general philosophical approach that I share.
You know, I believe the Constitution is a living and breathing document and that there are liberties found in the Constitution such as the right to privacy that spring from the document, itself, even though the Founders didn't write specific words saying this, this, and this, because we have interpreted our founding charter over the years and found deeper meanings in it, in light of the subsequent experience in American life of the last 211 years of our republic, and a strict constructionist, narrow-minded, harkening back to a literalist reading from 200 years ago, I think that's -- I think that's a mistake. And I would certainly not want to appoint any justices that took that approach.
JIM LEHRER: As a practical matter, Mr. Vice President, how in the world can you assure any voter that Roe v. Wade is going to be OK under a Gore administration if you're not going to even ask potential nominees what their position is on abortion?
AL GORE: It'll be OK. In a Gore administration it'll be OK.
JIM LEHRER: It'll be okay. All right. OK.
AL GORE: I guarantee it.
|Needing common sense gun restrictions|
JIM LEHRER: Gun control, what is the big difference, as you see it, between your position and that of Governor Bush?
AL GORE: He's -- he's with the NRA (National Rifle Association) -- and I'm not. I believe that the horrible instances of violence that we have had in recent years involving guns demonstrate very clearly why we need common sense restrictions on things like mandatory child safety trigger locks. When you have a 6-year-old first grader killed in the classroom --
JIM LEHRER: How do you enforce that?
AL GORE: Mandatory trigger locks? You make it a law and enforce it.
JIM LEHRER: But you can't enforce it in somebody's home, can you?
AL GORE: Well, this -- it would apply initially to all new handguns, and then -- you know -- you take it from there, but the other side is opposed to even that. They talk about voluntary measures. Well, you know, if first-grade gunplay is not serious enough, what does it take, kindergarten? There was a 5-year-old with a loaded gun, firing on a playground before the horrible incident in Michigan that didn't really get much publicity until after the incident in Michigan, so there you've got a kindergartner. Is that enough for concern here? What about nursery school?
I mean, it's ridiculous -- really -- I mean, I think it's absurd, and I mean, I favor a photo license I.D. requirement for the purchase of a new handgun. I favor closing the gun show loophole. In fact, I cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to close this -- the gun show loophole. I favor reinstatement of the three-day waiting period under the Brady Law, toughening of restrictions, toughening of enforcement on the guns laws, and toughening of penalties for violation of the gun law and better enforcement. And when the NRA says they're not enforcing the current law and that's the answer to that, well, they've been in the Congress working to weaken enforcement of the current law - and they're calling the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) jackbooted thugs and all of this, and of course, the horrible comment from their executive director the other day, which was just --
JIM LEHRER: He said that you and President Clinton don't mind a little violence and killing to further your interests.
AL GORE: Oh, gosh. You know, I've had the experience over and over again as vice president over these last seven years of talking with families who have suffered from gun violence. Oh, gosh. You know, it's -- I was in a hospital yesterday in Miami, and an emergency room nurse introduced me, and the event was on health care. She brought up the issue of gun violence in her introduction. And you know what you said -- she said that they have doctors from Canada that come down on a rotating basis to Dade County to get training in how to treat gunshot wounds because they don't see them up there. They come down here, and they get plenty of experience here.
You know, this has to be changed, and nobody is talking about taking guns away from owners or sportsmen. These are -- these are red herrings that the NRA throws out as red flags. It's not right. Now, Governor Bush, by contrast, Jim, overturned the 150-year prohibition on concealed weapons in Texas, pushed through legislation to give the gun manufacturers more protections in the form of immunities from lawsuits for the people who are trying to get them to behave more responsibly, has opposed any new gun laws of the kind that the president and I had been proposing, has the strong support of the NRA. I mean, this is a clear issue in the campaign.