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Spirited in St. Louis - Gore, Bush vie for command in issue-focused finale

Oct. 18, 2000

By B.J. GOERGEN

Reporter

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - In their final presidential debate Tuesday at Washington University, Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush did not have the love fest they displayed in discussion No. 2.

Audience questions covered a variety of issues and disagreements between Gore and Bush started early.

Audience member Angie Pedik asked the candidates how the national government could get parents involved in education. Bush responded that schools should be held accountable to set high standards for educating children.

Gore countered by saying he wanted to get 100,000 new teachers in schools during the next few years and give middle class families a $10,000 a year tax break for college students.

College professor Steven Kussman asked the candidates about apathy among young people who say some issues don't directly affect them. Gore said, 'Thank goodness we've always had enough people who have been willing to push past the fear of a broken heart and become deeply involved in forming a more perfect union [by getting involved in the political process].'

Bush answered the same question by saying, 'A lot of people are sick and tired of the bitterness in Washington, D.C. and they don't want any part of politics. What I think needs to happen in order to encourage the young to become involved is to shoot straight, is to set aside the partisan differences and set an agenda that will make sense.'

Even with an attempt to grasp the young vote, some felt the candidates still failed.

John Dervin, communications director for YouthVote 2000, an organization committed to getting young voters energized in this election said, 'The candidates completely missed the opportunity to connect with young voters,' after listening to the debate.

However, George P. Bush, chairman of Students for Bush-Cheney 2000 and George W. Bush's nephew, thought his uncle did address issues facing younger voters.

'It's up to all of us to exercise our civic duty and vote. My uncle believes that the individual has the write to make up their own decisions.'

After the debate, both parties were quick to claim victory. Gore spokesman Bill Daley said, 'Gore absolutely commanded the evening. He made a breakthrough this evening.'

Daley also said Bush fell short because he didn't have command of his facts or of his own record.

In contrast, Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said, 'the facts are on Bush's side. The vice

president spent much of tonight on the defensive.'