CNN SUNDAY May 28, 2000; Sunday
Governor Bush, Clinton Administration Spar Over Missile Defense
Andria Hall, Kelly Wallace
ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: A new hot topic is being discussed as part of the U.S.
presidential race: a national missile defense system. The leading presidential
candidates have dramatically different
views on how the U.S. should defend itself.
CNN's Kelly Wallace has more.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defense Secretary William Cohen
extended a somewhat unusual offer to Republican presidential candidate George
W. Bush, a briefing on nuclear weapons and missile defense.
COHEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I offered him to be briefed. I think it
would be important and helpful to him.
WALLACE: Secretary Cohen's offer came after he criticized Bush's national
security proposal. Tuesday, the Texas governor said as president he would
unilaterally cut the strategic nuclear arsenal and back a
more advanced missile defense system than President Clinton is considering.
He also had a message for Mr. Clinton before he heads to Russia to meet with
President Vladimir Putin: don't make any arms control deals before leaving
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX),
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I'm really suggesting is, is that he not hamstring
the ability of the next president to fully develop an anti-ballistic missile
system to protect ourselves and our allies.
WALLACE: Mr. Clinton's national security adviser fired back.
SAMUEL BERGER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The American people elect their
presidents for four years, not for three years. The United States can't say to
the world we're out of business one year out of four.
WALLACE: The president's team is considering a limited missile- defense system
to protect against threats from rogue nations, such as North
Korea. The Russians oppose such a system, and the White House charges that
Bush's more advanced proposal would be even less acceptable to Moscow.
BERGER: How would they react to that? They would react by building up.
WALLACE: Vice President Gore signaled his support for the administration's
approach to missile defense Saturday.
But nuclear experts say both the Clinton-Gore and the Bush plans would put
China, India and Pakistan on the defensive.
FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: When they look at these plans, they're going to think that this would disarm
them. They're going to wind up building a lot more
missiles pointed at America.
WALLACE (on camera): Late Saturday, the Bush camp appeared to brush aside
Secretary Cohen's offer, saying they Bush's advisers, including Colin Powell,
former chair of the joint chiefs, understand the issues. A spokeswoman said
that Governor Bush would be briefed
at the appropriate time, which is usually after the nominating conventions.
Kelly Wallace, CNN, the White House.
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