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Gore Points Out Issue Differences, While Bush Ties Gore to Big Government (posted October 18, 2000)

Americans finally saw their presidential candidates explain their substantive differences in ways ordinary people could understand. It was the best debate of the three this fall in terms of connecting with voters. Gore returned to the convention passion that galvanized the Democratic convention and defended himself against charges that he favors big government. Bush deflected Gore's criticisms by saying Gore represented a style of bitter partisan bickering from Washington, D.C. and that it was time for a "fresh start".

Each candidate accomplished important goals. From Gore's standpoint, it was vital that he criticize Bush's governing record in Texas and explain clearly how the two men differed on tax cuts, a patient's bill of rights, guns, hate crime, and Medicare reform. In clarity of communication, this was Gore's best presidential debate since his early attacks on Bradley during the Democratic primaries. The vice president was passionate without being obnoxious and kept himself from the mind-numbing details that in previous debates prevented the audience from understanding his basic points.

Bush was the master deflector, turning Gore's various attacks and criticisms into a commentary on partisan sniping from Washington, D.C. The Texas governor consistently parried Gore's jabs by saying Gore was from Washington and Bush was not and that Gore favored big government, while he himself did not.

Post-debate polls revealed that neither scored a knock-out punch. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey revealed that 46 percent thought Gore did the better job in the debate, while 44 percent felt that way about Bush. According to a story, "Bush was seen as more likeable and more believable; Gore was viewed as the candidate who expressed himself more clearly." However, more Bush supporters watched the debate than did Gore proponents, which helps to explain why more people did not feel Gore had won the debate. With less than three weeks to go to Election Day, the race now should remain close until swing voters see something that moves them to one candidate or another.
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services