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Bush/Gore Debate Performance (posted October 4, 2000)

Gore's Strengths: Vice President Al Gore showed his mastery of policy details with long recitations of facts and figures to support his arguments. Great at sticking on message. Scored debate points attacking Bush's tax cuts for the "wealthiest 1 percent" (which he got into the conversation 10 times).

Gore's Weaknesses: Lapsed too often into policy wonk mode with mind-numbing details about policy proposals. Robotic at times as he repeated key phrases such as "my plan ..." and the "wealthiest 1 percent". Still needs to loosen up and relax in his presentation.

Bush's Strengths: Crisp, clear, and concise answers. Good at making short arguments explaining his proposals. Several memorable one-liners such as his humorous jab at Gore for "inventing the calculator" and accusing Gore of relying on "fuzzy math" from Washington.

Bush's Weaknesses: Short answers which gave Gore a chance to pounce and which also allowed Gore to spend more time controlling the clock through explaining his own views. Gave Gore an opening on who knew more about involving Russia in the Balkans (Gore).

Overall Assessment: Gore did a good job scoring debate points and staying on message with a few simple points such as tax cuts for the rich, but Bush did a better job connecting with undecided voters in the audience and offering broad themes to the electorate. Bush took care of his major problem, which was satisfying voters he is up to the job. For viewers whose main information about the Texas governor came from late-night comedians, they would have been surprised at how well Bush did. Gore showed mastery of details, but we already knew he was up to the job. Still needs to show that human side which his friends claim is there. Bottom line--No big mistakes or clear knockout from either side. Look for the election to go down to the wire in November. Neither side has this one wrapped up.
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services