|BUSH ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS|
November 19, 1999
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the leading GOP presidential candidate, gave a major speech on foreign affairs today. After an excerpt, Mark Shields and Paul Gigot analyze the contents and politics behind the speech.
JIM LEHRER: George W. Bush delivered his first major foreign policy speech today. He talked about U.S./Russia relations generally, and nuclear proliferation in particular, among other things. Here's an excerpt.
|A new strategic relationship|
GEORGE W. BUSH: Our first order of business is the national security of our nation. And here both Russia and the United States face a changed world. Instead of confronting each other, we confront the legacy of a dead ideological rivalry: thousands of nuclear weapons, which in the case of Russia may not be secure. And together we also face an emerging threat from rogue nations, nuclear theft, and accidental launch.
All this requires nothing short of a new strategic relationship to protect the peace of the world. Under the mutual threat of rogue nations, there is a real possibility the Russians could join with us and our friends and our allies to cooperate on missile defense systems, but there will be conditions.
First and foremost, Russia must break its dangerous habit of proliferation. In the hard work of halting proliferation, the comprehensive test ban treaty, is not the answer. I've said that our nation should continue its moratorium on testing, and I will. Yet far more important is to constrict the supply of nuclear materials and the means to deliver them by making this a priority with Russia and with China.
Our nation must cut off the demand for nuclear weapons by addressing the security concerns of those who renounce these weapons. Our nation must diminish the evil attraction of these weapons for rogue states by rendering them useless with missile defense. The comprehensive test ban treaty does nothing to gain these goals. It does not stop proliferation, especially the renegade regimes. It is not verifiable, it is not enforceable, and it would stop us from ensuring the safety and reliability of our nation's deterrent, should the need arise.
JIM LEHRER: Governor Bush speaking earlier today at the Reagan Library in Simi California.
|Establishing foreign affairs credibility|
JIM LEHRER: Now back to Mark Shields and Paul Gigot. What did you think of the speech, Paul.
PAUL GIGOT: I think it was a good speech, Jim, and an important speech for Governor Bush because like any governor running for President who hasn't been a vice president or hasn't been discussing the issues of foreign policy in the Senate, he has to establish his bona fides. He has to establish credibility, especially this one, this candidate, because he's had some problems with some of the details of foreign policy, some of the facts. Fair or not, there's been some doubt created, and I think he needed to get out there and show that he could master of the some policy and surround himself with smart people. Former Reagan officials, former Bush officials.
One of the interesting things about the speech is where he did what he did -- Ronald Reagan's presidential library. He was trying to associate himself not merely with some of his father's foreign policy successes but with Ronald Reagan's successes and he has a lot of Ronald Reagan's advisors around him. So I think he helped...
JIM LEHRER: Including George Shultz, who was Reagan's Secretary of State.
PAUL GIGOT: Secretary of State. But Richard Perle, who was one of the most hawkish defense advisors; Paul Wolfowitz, as well, a defense official in both the Bush and Reagan administrations, so I think he helped himself.
JIM LEHRER: Rice is his number one foreign affairs advisor who worked for President Bush. What did you think?
MARK SHIELDS: It was fine. I don't think... the irony here is that when Michael Dukakis ran in 1988, against George Bush's father, the knock was that he is a governor, he must have gotten his foreign policy advice down at the International House of Pancakes.
JIM LEHRER: I remember that line.
MARK SHIELDS: Remember the putdown line? If there's a guy...
JIM LEHRER: You have a good memory for one-liners.
MARK SHIELDS: The International House of Pancakes is George W. Bush. That's been a problem for him there. There are two problems here. First of all this is one of those issues, that... and religious and moral values, where the Republicans have a clear edge over the Democrats. It's national security. You want to be able to exploit it. George W. Bush is not the man to exploit that advantage over the Democrats in the year 2000 today.
JIM LEHRER: Against either Gore or Bradley.
MARK SHIELDS: Against Gore or Bradley. I think that's the problem. This helped, there's no question about it. But he did do the Reagan Library, as Paul pointed out. The Reagan Library has become what visits to Harry Truman were a generation ago. You go to Independence, Missouri, and go see him. Republicans used to see Ike at the farm at Gettysburg. Steve Forbes was there this week. I was there with John McCain just a few weeks ago. The difference between George W. Bush and John McCain is that John McCain stood after he gave his speech and answered questions for 35 minutes. There were no questions today. This was a sort of let's get this out, let's get it on the board. We don't want to muddy the waters. Let's just... that's our statement. If you have any further questions on it, that's our statement. It still leaves the debates for determination.
|Hard on China, Russia|
JIM LEHRER: From a substance standpoint, Paul, is there anything in the speech that leapt out at you negatively or positively and said, "hey?"
PAUL GIGOT: I thought the China section was strong.
JIM LEHRER: Tell us what he said.
PAUL GIGOT: What he took on was he positioned himself between the strategic partnership language of the Clinton administration and those on the right who want to treat China as the former Soviet Union and contain it. He's going to make enemies on both sides of that. But he took on the trade issue and said - look, I'm for opening trade with China but let's be sterner on security issues. So, he's going to get a battle with the Clinton administration and he's going to get a battle with Gary Bauer and Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes.
JIM LEHRER: What do you think on substance?
MARK SHIELDS: I thought two things jumped out at me. One was he said we will help Taiwan defend itself. That was his statement, which is not the same as we'll defend Taiwan. So that kind of leaves it open. It's drawing a strong line in the sand, but it's still unclear as to what America's own role would be if China were to invade or seek to dominate militarily Taiwan. The second thing was he talked about cutting off aid to Russia because of the military action and violence in Chechnya. And I don't think that Governor Bush wants to suggest they'd cut off funds, for example, to dismantle nuclear weapons, which is what we're doing right now in Russia, and which we're paying for. So I think that was a little vague, I thought.
PAUL GIGOT: But actually he said he would provide the cash for that purpose. What he wouldn't do was provide economic aid that went for corrupt economic policies. He did draw a distinction there.
JIM LEHRER: Little time we have left, Paul, you first. The speech aside or the speech included, where does the race stand at this moment in your opinion? What is this McCain move mean at this point?
PAUL GIGOT: The McCain move is real. The problem for McCain is that it's mainly in New Hampshire right now. He doesn't have a presence in Iowa -- in fact decided this week formally this week that he wasn't going to compete there. That means he has to count on Steve Forbes really doing well and wounding George W. Bush in Iowa so that he can do better, he can have a weaker opponent in New Hampshire.
JIM LEHRER: A few words.
MARK SHIELDS: John McCain is the Democrats' nightmare. Quinnipiac College just finished a poll in New Hampshire, 1,000 voters. John McCain is beating Al Gore 53 percent to 34 percent in New Hampshire while George Bush and Al Gore are within the margin of error. I mean he's a devastating... potentially... devastating national election candidate.
JIM LEHRER: But he has to get by Bush to get there.
MARK SHIELDS: He has to get by Bush to get there.
JIM LEHRER: All right. Thank you both very much.