Bush/Gore Second Presidential Debate October 11
LEHRER: Governor Bush, the first question goes to you. One of you is
about to be elected the leader of the single most powerful nation in
the world, economically, financially, militarily, diplomatically, you
name it. Have you formed any guiding principles for exercising this
BUSH: I have. I have. The first question is what's in the best
interests of the United States. What's in the best interests of our
people? When it comes to foreign policy that'll be my guiding
question. Is it in our nation's interests? Peace in the Middle East is
in our nation's interests. Having a hemisphere that is free for trade
and peaceful is in our nation's interests. Strong relations in Europe
is in our nation's interests.
I've thought a lot about what it means to be the president. I also
understand that an administration is not one person, but an
administration is dedicated citizens who are called by the president
to serve the country, to serve a cause greater than self. And so I've
thought about an administration of people who represent all America,
but people who understand my compassionate and conservative
philosophy. I haven't started naming names except for one person, and
that's Mr. Richard Cheney, who I thought did a great job the other
night. He's a vice presidential nominee who represents, who, I think
people got to see why I picked him. He's a man of solid judgment and
he's going to be a person to stand by my side.
One of the things I've done in Texas is I've been able to put together
a good team of people. I've been able to set clear goals. The goals
ought to be an education system that leaves no child behind, Medicare
for our seniors, a Social Security system that's safe and secure,
foreign policy that's in our nation's interest, and a strong military,
and then bring people together to achieve those goals. That's what a
chief executive officer does. So I've thought long and hard about the
honor and -- of being the president of the United States.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore.
GORE: Yes, Jim, I've thought a lot about that particular question and
I see our greatest national strength coming from what we stand for in
the world. I see it as a question of values. It is a great tribute to
our founders that 224 years later this nation is now looked to by the
peoples on every other continent and the peoples from every part of
this earth as a kind of model for what their future could be. And I
don't think that's just the kind of exaggeration that we take pride in
as Americans, it's really true. Even the ones that sometimes shake
their fists at us. As soon as they have a change that allows the
people to speak freely, they're wanting to develop some kind of
blueprint that will help them be like us more: freedom, free markets,
So I think first and foremost our power ought to be wielded in ways
that form a more perfect union. The power of example is America's
greatest power in the world. And that means, for example, standing up
for human rights. It means addressing the problems of injustice and
inequity along lines of race and ethnicity here at home because in all
these other places around the world where they're having these
terrible problems when they feel hope it is often because they see in
us a reflection of their potential. So we've got to enforce our civil
rights laws. We've got to deal with things like racial profiling. And
we have to keep our military strong. We have the strongest military.
And I'll do whatever is necessary, if I'm president, to make sure that
it stays that way. But our real power comes, I think, from our values.
LEHRER: Should the people of the world look at the United States,
Governor, and say should they fear us, should they welcome our
involvement, should they see us as a friend, everybody in the world?
How would you project us around the world as president?
BUSH: Well, I think they ought to look at us as a country that
understands freedom, where it doesn't matter who you are or how you're
raised or where you're from, that you can succeed. I don't think they
ought to look at us with envy. It really depends upon how (the) nation
conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation,
they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll
welcome us. And our nation stands alone right now in the world in
terms of power. And that's why we've got to be humble and yet project
strength in a way that promotes freedom. So I don't think they ought
to look at us in any way other than what we are. We're a
freedom-loving nation. And if we're an arrogant nation, they'll view
us that way, but if we're a humble nation, they'll respect us.
LEHRER: A humble nation.
GORE: I agree with that. I agree with that. I think that one of the
problems that we have faced in the world is that we are so much more
powerful than any single nation has been in relationship to the rest
of the world than at any time in history, that I know about anyway,
that there is some resentment of U.S. power. So I think that the idea
of humility is an important one. But I think that we also have to have
a sense of mission in the world. And we have to protect our capacity
to push forward what America's all about. That means not only military
strength and our values. It also means keeping our economy strong. You
know, two decades ago, it was routine for leaders of foreign countries
to come over here and say "You guys have got to do something about
these horrendous deficits because it's causing tremendous problems for
the rest of the world." And we were lectured to all the time. The fact
that we have the strongest economy in history today is not good enough
-- we need to do more. But the fact that it is so strong enables us to
project the power for good that America can represent.
LEHRER: Does our wealth, our good economy, our power bring with it
special obligations to the rest of the world?
BUSH: Yes it does. Take for example, third world debt. I think be
ought to be forgiving third world debt under certain conditions. I
think, for example, if we're convinced that a third world country
that's got a lot of debt would reform itself, that the money wouldn't
go into the hands of a few, but would go to help people, then I think
it'd make sense for us to use our wealth in that way. Or to trade debt
for valuable rain forest lands, makes eminent sense. Yes, we do have
an obligation in the world, but we can't be all things to all people.
We can help build coalitions, but we can't put our troops all around
the world. We can lend money, but we've got to do it wisely. We
shouldn't be lending money to corrupt officials. So we've got to be
guarded in our generosity.
LEHRER: Let's go through some of the specifics now. New question Vice
President Gore. The governor mentioned the Middle East. Here we're
talking at this stage in the game about diplomatic power that we have.
What do you think the United States should do right now to resolve
that conflict over there?
GORE: The first priority has to be on ending the violence, dampening
down the tensions that have arisen there. We need to call upon Syria
to release the three Israeli soldiers who have been captured. We need
to insist that Arafat send out instructions to halt some of the
provocative acts of violence that have been going on. I think that we
also have to keep a weather eye toward Saddam Hussein because he's
taking advantage of this situation to once again make threats and he
needs to understand that he's not only dealing with Israel, he is
dealing with us, if he is making the kind of threats that he's talking
The use of diplomacy in this situation has already -- well, it goes
hour by hour and day by day now. It's a very tense situation there.
But in the last 24 hours, there has been some subsiding of the
violence there. It's too much to hope that this is going to continue,
but I do hope that it will continue. Our country has been very active
with regular conversations with the leaders there. And we just have to
take it day to day right now.
But one thing I would say where diplomacy is concerned. Israel should
feel absolutely secure about one thing. Our bonds with Israel are
larger than agreements or disagreements on some details of diplomatic
initiatives. They are historic, they are strong and they are enduring.
And our ability to serve as an honest broker is something that we need
BUSH: Well, I think during the campaign, particularly now during this
difficult period, we ought to be speaking with one voice. And I
appreciate the way the administration has worked hard to calm the
tensions. Like the vice president, I call on Chairman Arafat to have
his people pull back to make the peace. I think credibility is going
to be very important in the future in the Middle East. I want
everybody to know, should I be the president, Israel's going to be our
friend. I'm going to stand by Israel.
Secondly, that I think it's important to reach out to moderate Arab
nations, like Jordan and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It's
important to be friends with people when you don't need each other so
that when you do there's a strong bond of friendship. And that's going
to be particular important in dealing not only with situations such as
now occurring in Israel, but with Saddam Hussein, the coalition
against Saddam has fallen apart or it's unraveling, let's put it that
way. The sanctions are being violated. We don't know whether he's
developing weapons of mass destruction. He better not be or there's
going to be a consequence, should I be the president.
But it's important to have credibility and credibility is formed by
being strong with your friends and resolute in your determination.
It's one of the reasons why I think it's important for this nation to
develop an anti-ballistic missile system that we can share with our
allies in the Middle East, if need be, to keep the peace. To be able
to say to the Saddam Husseins of the world or the Iranians, don't dare
threaten our friends.
It's also important to keep strong ties in the Middle East with
credible ties because of the energy crisis we're now in. After all,
all the energy is produced from the Middle East. And so I appreciate
what the administration is doing. I hope to get a sense of, should I
be fortunate enough to be the president, how my administration will
react to the Middle East.
LEHRER: So you don't believe, Vice President Gore, that we should take
sides in this -- and resolve this right now? A lot of people are
pushing -- Hey, we -- the United States should declare itself and not
be so neutral in this particular situation.
GORE: Well, we stand with Israel. But we have maintained the ability
to serve as an honest broker. And one of the reasons that's important
is that Israel cannot have direct dialogue with some of the people on
the other side of conflicts, especially during times of tension,
unless that dialogue comes through us. And if we throw away that
ability to serve as an honest broker then we will have thrown away a
strategic asset that's important not only to us but also to Israel.
LEHRER: Do you agree with that, Governor?
BUSH: I do. I do think this, though: I think that when it comes to
timetables, it can't be a United States timetable as to how the
discussions take place. It's got to be a timetable that all parties
can agree to -- like the Palestinians or the Israelis. Secondly, any
lasting peace is going to have to be a peace that's good for both
sides. And therefore the term honest broker makes sense. This current
administration has worked hard to keep the parties at the table. I
will try to do the same thing. But it won't be on my timetable. It'll
be on the timetable that people are comfortable with in the Middle
LEHRER: People watching here tonight are very interested in Middle
East policy. And they're so interested that they want to base their
vote on differences between the two of you as president, how you would
handle Middle East policy. Is there any difference?
GORE: I haven't heard a big difference right, in the last few
BUSH: Well I think, it's hard to tell. I would hope to be able to
convince people I could handle the Iraqi situation better. I mean --
LEHRER: Saddam Hussein, you mean?
LEHRER: You could get him out of there?
BUSH: I'd like to, of course. And I presume this administration would
as well. But we don't know, there's no inspectors now in Iraq. The
coalition that was in place isn't as strong as it used to be. He is a
danger. We don't want him fishing in troubled waters in the Middle
East. And it's going to be hard, it's going to be important to rebuild
that coalition to keep the pressure on him.
LEHRER: You feel that as a failure of the Clinton administration?
BUSH: I do.
LEHRER: Mr. Vice President.
GORE: Well, when I got to be a part of the current administration it
was right after I was one of the few members of my political party to
support former President Bush in the Persian Gulf war resolution. And
at the end of that war, for whatever reasons it was not finished in a
way that removed Saddam Hussein from power. I know there are all kinds
of circumstances and explanations. But the fact is that that's the
situation that was left when I got there. And we have maintained the
sanctions. Now I want to go further. I want to give robust support to
the groups that are trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein. And I know
there are allegations that they're too weak to do it. But that's what
they said about the forces that were opposing Milosevic in Serbia. And
you know, the policy of enforcing sanctions against Serbia has just
resulted in a spectacular victory for democracy just in the past week.
And it seems to me that having taken so long to see the sanctions work
there building upon the policy of containment that was successful over
a much longer period of time against the former Soviet Union in the
Communist bloc, it seems a little early to declare that we should give
up on the sanctions. I know the governor's not necessarily saying
that, but you know, all of these flights that have come in, all of
them have been in accordance with the sanctions regime, I'm told,
except for three, where they notified. And they're trying to break out
of the box, there's no question about it. I don't think they should be
LEHRER: Did he state your position correctly? You're not calling for
eliminating the sanctions, are you?
BUSH: No, of course not. Absolutely not. I want them to be tougher.
LEHRER: Let's go onto Milosevic and Yugoslavia, and it falls under the
area of our military power. Governor, new question. Should the fall of
Milosevic be seen as a triumph for U.S. military intervention?
BUSH: I think it's a triumph. I thought the president made the right
decision in joining NATO in bombing Serbia. I supported him when they
did so. I called upon the Congress not to hamstring the administration
and, in terms of forcing troop withdrawals on a timetable that wasn't
in necessarily our best interests, or fit our nation's strategy, and
so I think it's good public policy. I think it worked. And I'm pleased
I made the decision I made, and I'm pleased the president made the
decision he made, because freedom took hold in that part of the world,
and, there's a lot of work left to be done, however.
LEHRER: But you think it would not have happened Do you think that
Milosevic would not have fallen if the United States and NATO had not
intervened militarily? Is this a legitimate use of our military power?
BUSH: Yes, I think it is. Absolutely. I don't think he would have
fallen had we not used force. And I know there's some in my party that
disagreed with that sentiment. But I supported the president, I
thought he made the right decision to do so. I didn't think he
necessarily made the right decision to take land troops off the table
right before we committed ourselves offensively. But nevertheless it
worked. The administration deserves credit for having made it work.
It's important for NATO to have to work. It's important for NATO to be
strong and confident to help keep the peace in Europe. And one of the
reasons I felt so strongly that the United States needed to
participate was because of our relations with NATO. And NATO's going
to be an important part of keeping the peace in the future.
Now, there's more work to do. It remains to be seen how whether or not
there's going to be a political settlement to Kosovo. And I certainly
hope there is one.
I'm also on record as saying, at some point in time, I hope our
European friends become the peacekeepers in Bosnia and in the Balkans.
I hope that they put the troops on the ground so that we can withdraw
our troops and focus our military on fighting and winning war.
LEHRER: Mr. Vice President.
GORE: Well, I've been kind of a hard-liner on this issue for more than
eight years. When I was in the Senate, before I became vice president,
I was pushing for stronger action against Milosevic. He caused the
deaths of so many people. He was the last Communist Party boss there
and then he became a dictator that by some other label he was still
essentially a Communist dictator. And unfortunately now he is trying
to reassert himself in Serbian politics. Already, just today, the
members of his political party said that they were going to ignore the
orders of the new president of Serbia and that they questioned his
legitimacy. And he's still going to try to be actively involved. He is
an indicted war criminal. He should be held accountable.
Now, I did want to pick up on one of the statements earlier. And maybe
I've heard the previous statements wrong, Governor. In some of the
discussions we've had about when it's appropriate for the U.S. to use
force around the world, at times the standards that you've laid down
have given me the impression that if it's something like a genocide
taking place or what they called ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, that that
alone would not be -- that that wouldn't be the kind of situation that
would cause you to think that the U.S. ought to, to get involved with,
with troops. Now, have to be other factors involved for me to want to
be involved. But by itself, that, to me, can bring into play a
fundamental American strategic interest because I think it's based on
our values. Now, have I got that wrong?
BUSH: If I think it's in our nation's strategic interests, I'll commit
troops. I thought it was in our strategic interests to keep Milosevic
in check because of our relations in NATO, and that's why I took the
position I took. I think it's important for NATO to be strong and
confident. I felt like an unchecked Milosevic would harm NATO and so
it depends on the situation, Mr. Vice President.
LEHRER: Well, let's stay on the subject for a moment. New question
related to this. There have been -- I figured this out -- in the last
20 years, there have been eight major actions involving the
introduction of U.S. ground, air or naval forces. Let me name them:
Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti,
Kosovo. If you had been president, would any of those interventions
not have happened?
GORE: Can you run through the list again?
LEHRER: Sure. Lebanon?
GORE: I thought that was a mistake.
GORE: I supported that.
GORE: I supported that one.
LEHRER: Persian Gulf?
GORE: Yes, I voted for it, supported it.
GORE: Well, of course, in that, that, again -- no, I think that that
was ill considered. I did support it at the time. It was in the
previous administration, in the Bush-Quayle administration, and I
think in retrospect the lessons there are ones that we, that we should
take, take very, very seriously.
GORE: Oh, yes.
LEHRER: And then Kosovo, we talked about that.
LEHRER: Want me to do it with you?
BUSH: No, I'm fine. Let me make a couple of comments.
LEHRER: Sure, absolutely, sure.
BUSH: Somalia. It started off as a humanitarian mission then changed
into a nation-building mission and that's where the mission went
wrong. The mission was changed. And as a result, our nation paid a
price, and so I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's
called nation building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight
and win war. I think our troops ought to be used to help overthrow a
dictator when it's in our best interests. But in this case, it was a
nation-building exercise. And same with Haiti. I wouldn't have
LEHRER: What about Lebanon?
LEHRER: Obviously, the Persian --
BUSH: With some of them I've got a conflict of interest on, if you
know what I mean.
LEHRER: I do, I do. -- the Persian Gulf, obviously.
LEHRER: And Bosnia and you've already talked about Kosovo. But the
reverse side of the question, governor, that Vice President Gore
mentioned, for instance, 600,000 people died in Rwanda in 1994. There
was no U.S. intervention, there was no intervention from the outside
world. Was that a mistake not to intervene?
BUSH: I think the administration did the right thing in that case. I
do. It was a horrible situation. No one liked to see it on our TV
screens, but it's a case where we need to make sure we've got a, kind
of an early warning system in place in places where there could be a
ethnic cleansing and genocide the way we saw it there in Rwanda. And
that's a case were we need to use our influence to have countries in
Africa come together and help deal with the situation. The
administration, it seems like we're having a great love fest tonight,
but the administration made the right decision on training Nigerian
troops for situations just such as this in Rwanda. And so I thought
they made the right decision not to send U.S. troops into Rwanda.
LEHRER: Do you have any second thoughts on that based on what you said
a moment ago about genocide and --
GORE: I'd like to come back to the question of nation building, but
let me address this question directly first.
LEHRER: We'll do that --
GORE: Fine. We did actually send troops into Rwanda to help with the
humanitarian relief measures. My wife, Tipper, who's here, actually
went on a military plane with General Shalikashvili on one of those
flights. But I think in retrospect, we were too late getting in there.
We could have saved more lives if we had acted earlier.
But I do not think that it was an example of a conflict where we
should have put our troops in to try to separate the parties for this
reason, Jim. One of the criteria that I think is important in deciding
when and if we should ever get involved around the world is whether or
not our national security interest is involved, if we can really make
the difference with military force, if we've tried everything else, if
we have allies. In the Balkans we had allies, NATO, ready, willing and
able to go and carry a big part of the burden.
In Africa we did not. Now our country's tried to create an Africa
crisis response team there and we've met some resistance. We have had
some luck with Nigeria in Sierra Leone. And now that Nigeria's become
a democracy, and we hope it stays that way, then maybe we can build on
that. But because we had no allies and because it was very unclear
that we could actually accomplish what we would want to accomplish by
putting military forces there, I think it was the right thing not to
jump in, as heartbreaking as it was. But I think we should have come
in much quicker with the humanitarian mission.
LEHRER: So what would you say, governor, to somebody who would say,
"Hey, wait a minute. Why not Africa? I mean, why the Middle East? Why
the Balkans but not Africa when 600,000 people's lives are at risk?"
BUSH: Well, I understand. And Africa's important. And we've got to do
a lot of work in Africa to promote democracy and trade. And the vice
president mentioned Nigeria. It's a fledgling democracy. We've got to
work with Nigeria. It's an important continent. But there's got to be
priorities. And Middle East is a priority for a lot of reasons as is
Europe and the Far East, and our own hemisphere. And those are my four
top priorities should I be the president. It's not to say we won't be
engaged. Nor trying -- nor should we -- work hard to get other nations
to come together to prevent atrocity. I thought the best example of a
way to handle a situation was East Timor when we provided logistical
support to the Australians; support that only we can provide. I
thought that was a good model. But we can't be all things to all
people in the world, Jim. And I think that's where maybe the vice
president and I begin to have some differences. I am worried about
over-committing our military around the world. I want to be judicious
in its use. You mentioned Haiti. I wouldn't have sent troops to Haiti.
I didn't think it was a mission worthwhile. It was a nation-building
mission. And it was not very successful. It cost us billions -- a
couple of billions of dollars and I'm not so sure democracy's any
better off in Haiti than it was before.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore, do you agree with the Governor's views on
nation-building, the use of military, our military for nation-building
as he described it then defined it?
GORE: I don't think we agree on that. I would certainly also be
judicious in evaluating any potential use of American troops overseas.
I think we have to be very reticent about that.
But look, Jim, the world is changing so rapidly. The way I see it, the
world's getting much closer together. Like it or not, we are now --
the United States is now the natural leader of the world. All these
other countries are looking to us. Now, just because we cannot be
involved everywhere and shouldn't be doesn't mean that we should shy
away from going in anywhere.
Now, both of us are kind of, I guess, stating the other's position in
a maximalist extreme way, but I think there is a difference here. This
idea of nation building is kind of a pejorative phrase, but think
about the great conflict of the past century, World War II.
During the years between World War I and World War II, a great lesson
was learned by our military leaders and the people of the United
States. The lesson was that in the aftermath of World War I we kind of
turned our backs and left them to their own devices and they brewed up
a lot of trouble that quickly became World War II. And acting upon
that lesson, in the aftermath of our great victory in World War II, we
laid down the Marshall Plan, President Truman did; we got intimately
involved in building NATO and other structures there. We still have
lots of troops in Europe.
And what did we do in the late 40's and 50's and 60's? We were nation
building. And it was economic. But it was also military. And the
confidence that those countries recovering from the wounds of war had
by having troops there, we had civil administrators come in to set up
their ways of building their towns back.
LEHRER: But you said in the Boston debate, Governor, on this issue of
nation building that the United States military is overextended now.
Where is it overextended? Where are there U.S. military that you would
bring home if you become president?
BUSH: Well first let me just say one comment about what the Vice
President said. I think one of the lessons in between World War I and
World War II is we let our military atrophy. And we can't do that,
we've got to rebuild our military. But one of the problems we have in
the military is we're in a lot of places around the world and I
mentioned one and that's the Balkans. I'd very much like to get our
troops out of there. I recognize we can't do it now, nor do I advocate
an immediate withdrawal. That would be an abrogation of our agreement
with NATO. No one is suggesting that, but I think it ought to be one
of our priorities to work with our European friends to convince them
to put troops on the ground. And there is an example. Haiti is another
example. Now there are some places where I think, you know I supported
the administration in Colombia. I think it's important for us to be
training Colombians in that part of the world, our hemisphere is in
our interests to have a peaceful Colombia. But --
LEHRER: Some people are now suggesting that if you don't want to use
the military to maintain the peace, to do the civil thing, it's it
time to consider a civil force of some kind that comes in after the
military that builds nations or all of that? Is that on your radar
BUSH: I don't think so. I think what we need to do is convince people
who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm
missing something here. I mean we're going to have kind of a
nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not. Our military is
meant to fight and win war. That's what it's meant to do and when it
gets overextended, morale drops. Well, listen I strongly believe we
need to have a military presence in the Korean peninsula not only to
keep the peace in the peninsula but to keep regional stability. And I
strongly believe we need to keep a presence in NATO. But I'm going to
be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our
vital interest. The mission needs to be clear and the exit strategy
GORE: Well, I don't disagree with that. I certainly don't disagree
that we ought to get our troops home from places like the Balkans as
soon as we can, as soon as the mission is complete. That's what we did
in Haiti. There are no more than a handful of American military
personnel in Haiti now. And the Haitians have their problems but we
gave them a chance to restore democracy, and that's really about all
we can do. But if you have a situation like that right in our back
yard, with chaos about to break out and flotillas forming to come
across the water and all kinds of violence there right in one of our
neighboring countries there, then I think that we did the right thing
And as for this idea of nation building. The phrase sounds grandiose.
And you know, we can't allow ourselves to get overextended. I
certainly agree with that, and that's why I've supported building,
building up our capacity. I've devoted, in the budget I've proposed,
as I said last week, more than twice as much as the governor has
proposed. I think that it's in better shape now than he generally
does. We've had some disagreements about that. He said that two
divisions would have to report not ready for duty and that's not what
the Joint Chiefs say. But there's no doubt that we have to continue
building up readiness and military strength. And we have to also be
very cautious in the way we use our military.
LEHRER: In the nonmilitary area of influencing events around the
world, the financial and economic area, World Bank president
Wolfensohn said recently, governor, that U.S. contributions to
overseas development assistance is lower now, almost than it has ever
been. Is that a problem for you? What is your, what is your idea about
what the United States' obligations are -- I'm talking about financial
assistance and that sort of thing, to other countries, to poor
BUSH: Well I mentioned third world debt. That's a place where we can
use our generosity to influence in a positive way -- influence
nations. I believe we ought to have foreign aid. But I don't think we
ought to just have foreign aid for the sake of foreign aid. I think
foreign aid needs to be used to encourage markets and reform. I think
a lot of times we just spend aid and say we feel better about it and
it ends up being spent the wrong way. And there are some pretty
egregious examples recently; one being Russia where we had I.M.F.
loans that end up in the pockets of a lot of powerful people and
didn't help the nation. I think the I.M.F. has got a role in the
world. But I don't want to see the I.M.F. out there as a way to say to
world bankers "If you make a bad loan, we'll bail you out." It needs
to be available for emergency situations. I thought the president did
the right thing with Mexico and was very strongly supportive of the
administration in Mexico. But I don't think I.M.F. ought to be a stop
loss for people who ought to be able to evaluate risk themselves. So I
look at every place where we're investing money. I just want to make
sure the return is good.
LEHRER: Do you think we're meeting our obligations properly?
GORE: No, I would make some changes. I think there need to be reforms
in the IMF. I've generally supported it, but I've seen them make some
calls that I thought were highly questionable. And I think there's a
general agreement in many parts of the world now that there ought to
be changes in the IMF. The World Bank, I think, is generally doing a
But I think one of the big issues here the doesn't get nearly enough
attention is the issue of corruption. The governor mentioned it
earlier. I've worked on this issue. It's an enormous problem. And
corruption in official agencies like militaries and police departments
around the world, customs officials. That's one of the worst forms of
it. And we have got to, again, lead by example and help these other
countries that are trying to straighten out their situations find the
tools in order to do it.
I just think, Jim, that this is an absolutely unique period in world
history. The world's coming together, as I said. They're looking to
us. And we have a fundamental choice to make: Are we going to step up
the plate as a nation the way we did after World War II, the way that
generation of heroes said, O.K., the United States is going to be the
leader. And the world benefited tremendously from the courage that
they showed in those post-war years.
I think that in the aftermath of the Cold War, it's time for us to do
something very similar, to step up to the plate, to provide the
leadership -- leadership on the environment, leadership to make sure
the world economy keeps moving in the right direction. Again that
means not running big deficits here and not squandering our surplus.
It means having intelligent decisions that keep our prosperity going
and shepherds that economic strength so that we can provide that
BUSH: Let me comment on that.
BUSH: I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around
the world and say this is the way it's got to be. We can help. And
maybe it's just our difference in government, the way we view
government. I mean, I want to empower people. I want to help people
help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just
don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country
and say, we do it this way, so should you. I think we can help. And I
know we got to encourage democracy in the marketplaces.
But take Russia, for example. We went into Russia, we said here's some
IMF money. It ended up in Viktor Chernomyrdin's pocket, and others.
And yet we played like there was reform. The only people who are going
to reform Russia are Russia -- they're going to have to make the
decision themselves. Mr. Putin is going to have to make the decision
as to whether or not he wants to adhere to rule of law and normal
accounting practices so that if countries and-or entities invest
capital there's a reasonable rate of return, a way to get the money
out of the economy. But Russia has to make the decision. We can work
with them on security matters, for example, but it's their call to
make. So I'm not exactly sure where the vice president's coming from,
but I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American
is for us to go around the world saying, we do it this way, so should
Now, we trust freedom. We know freedom is a powerful, powerful,
powerful force, much bigger than the United States of America, as we
saw recently in the Balkans. But, maybe I misunderstand where you're
coming from, Mr. Vice President, but I think the United States must be
humble and must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in
how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own
LEHRER: Let's move on. No, let's move on.
GORE: Far be it for me to suggest otherwise.
LEHRER: New question. New subject. Vice President Gore on the
environment, in your 1992 book you said "We must make the rescue of
our environment the simple organizing principle for civilization and
there must be a wrenching transformation to save the planet." Do you
still feel that way?
GORE: I do. I think that in this 21st century we will soon see the
consequences of what's called global warming. There was a study just a
few weeks ago suggesting that in summertime the north polar ice cap
will be completely gone in 50 years. Already many people see the
strange weather conditions that the old-timers say they've never seen
before in their lifetimes. And what's happening is the level of
pollution is increasing significantly. Now here's the good news Jim.
If we take the leadership role and build the new technologies like the
new kinds of cars and trucks that Detroit is itching to build, then we
can create millions of good new jobs by being first into the market
with these new kinds of cars and trucks and other kinds of
technologies. You know, the Japanese are breathing down our necks on
this. They're moving very rapidly because they know that it is a
fast-growing world market. And some of these other countries,
particularly in the developing world, their pollution is much worse
than anywhere else. And their people want higher hire standards of
living. And so they're looking for ways to satisfy their desire for a
better life and still reduce pollution at the same time. I think that
holding on to the old ways and the old argument that the environment
and the economy are in conflict is really outdated. We have to be
bold, we have to provide leadership. Now it's true that we disagree on
this. The governor said that he doesn't think this problem is
necessarily caused by people. He's for letting the oil companies into
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Houston's just become the
smoggiest city in the country and Texas is No. 1 in industrial
pollution. We have a very different outlook and I'll tell you this, I
will fight for a clean environment in ways that strengthen our
BUSH: Well, let me start with Texas. We are a big industrial state but
we're, reduced our industrial waste by 11 percent. We cleaned up more
brown fields than any other administration in my state's history, 450
of them. Our water is cleaner now --
LEHRER: Explain what a brown field is for those who don't follow this.
BUSH: A brown field is an abandoned industrial site that just sits
idle in some of our urban centers. And people that are willing to
invest capital in the brown fields don't want to do so for fear of
lawsuit. I think we ought to have federal liability protection,
depending upon whether or not standards have been met. Book you
mentioned that Vice President Gore wrote, he also called for taxing,
big energy taxes in order to clean up the environment. And now that
the energy prices are high, I guess he's not advocating those big
energy taxes right now.
I believe we ought to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund,
with half the money going to states so states can make the right
decisions for environmental quality. I think we need to have clean
coal technologies, I proposed $2 billion worth. By the way, I just
found out the other day an interesting fact, that there's a national
petroleum reserve right next to Prudhoe Bay that your administration
had opened up for exploration in that pristine area. And that was a
smart move because there's gas reserves up there. We need gas
pipelines to bring the gas down. Gas is a clean fuel that we can burn
to -- we need to make sure that if we de-control our plants, that
there's mandatory, that the plants are, must conform to clean air
standards. The grandfather plants, that's what we did in Texas, no
excuses, I mean, you must conform.
In other words, there are practical things we can do. But it starts
with working in collaborative effort with states and local folks. You
know, if you own the land, every day is Earth Day. And people care a
lot about their land and care about their environment. Not all wisdom
is in Washington, D.C. on this issue.
LEHRER: Where do you see the basic difference, in very simple terms in
two or three sentences, between you and the governor on the
environment? If the voter wants to make a choice, what is it?
GORE: I'm really strongly committed to clean water and clean air and
cleaning up the new kinds of challenges like global warming. He's
right that I'm not in favor of energy taxes. I am in favor of tax cuts
to encourage and give incentives for the quicker development of these
new kinds of technologies and let me say again, Detroit is raring to
go on that.
We differ on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as I have said. We
differ on whether or not pollution controls ought to be voluntary. I
don't think you can get results that way. We differ on the kinds of
appointments that we would make.
LEHRER: But you say it's a fundamental difference.
GORE: I think it's a fundamental difference and let me give you an
example. He --
LEHRER: Hold on one second.
GORE: O.K., sure.
LEHRER: If somebody wanted to make -- to vote on the environment, how
would you draw the differences, Governor?
BUSH: I don't believe in command and control out of Washington, D.C. I
believe Washington ought to set standards, but I think we ought to
work with people at the local levels. And by the way, I can't let him
just say something and not correct it.
LEHRER: All right.
BUSH: The electric decontrol bill that I fought for a signed in Texas
has mandatory emission standards, Mr. Vice President. That's what we
ought to do at the federal level when it comes to grant for other
plants, for utilities. But there's --
LEHRER: Do you think --
BUSH: I think there's a difference. I think, for example, take when
they took 40 million acres of land out of circulation without
consulting local officials I thought that was --
LEHRER: That's out in the west?
BUSH: Out in the west, yes. On the logging issue, that's not the way I
would have done it. Perhaps some of that land needs to be set aside.
But I certainly would have consulted with governors and elected
officials before I would have acted unilaterally.
LEHRER: Would you believe the federal government still has some new
rules and new regulations and new laws to pass in the environmental
area, or do you think --
BUSH: Sure, absolutely, so long as they're based upon science and
they're reasonable, so long as people have input.
LEHRER: What about global warming?
BUSH: I think it's an issue that we need to take very seriously. But I
don't think we know the solution to global warming yet and I don't
think we've got all the facts before we make decisions. I'll tell you
one thing I'm not going to do is I'm not going to let the United
States carry the burden for cleaning up the world's air, like the
Kyoto treaty would have done. China and India were exempted from that
treaty. I think we need to be more even-handed as, evidently 99
senators -- I think it was 99 senators -- supported that position.
LEHRER: Global warming, global warming. The Senate did turn it down.
BUSH: Ninety-nine to nothing.
GORE: I think that, well that vote wasn't exactly, a lot of supporters
of the Kyoto treaty actually ended up voting for that because of the
way it was worded, but there's no doubt there's a lot of opposition to
it in the Senate. I'm not for command and control techniques either.
I'm for working with the groups, not just with industry but also with
the citizens groups and local communities to control sprawl in ways
that the local communities themselves come up with. But I disagree
that we don't know the cause of global warming. I think that we do.
It's pollution, carbon dioxide and other chemicals that are even more
potent, but in smaller quantities that cause this.
Look, the world's temperatures going up, weather patterns are
changing, storms are getting more violent and unpredictable. And what
are we going to tell our children? And I'm a grandfather now. I want
to be able to tell my grandson when I'm in my later years that I
didn't turn away from the evidence that showed that we were doing some
serious harm. In my faith tradition, it's written in the Book of
Matthew, where your heart is, there is your treasure also. And I
believe that we ought to recognize the value to our children and
grandchildren of taking steps that preserve the environment in a way
that's good for them.
BUSH: Yeah, I agree. I just, I think there's been some -- some of the
scientists, I believe, Mr. Vice President, haven't they been changing
their opinion a little bit on global warming? .... Look, global
warming needs to be taken very seriously, and I take it seriously. But
science -- there's differing opinions and before we react I think it's
best to have the full accounting, full understanding of what's taking
place. And I think to answer your question, I think both of us care a
lot about the environment. We may have different approaches. We may
have different approaches in terms of how we deal with local folks. I
mean, I just cited an example of the administration just unilaterally
acting without any input. And I remember you gave a very good answer
in New Hampshire about the White Mountains, about how it was important
to keep that collaborative effort in place. I feel very strongly the
same place -- it certainly wasn't the attitude that took place out