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1st round to Gore

Oct. 5, 2000

Bush's performance more unsteady in debate arena

The first of three 90-minute presidential debates between Democratic candidate Al Gore and Republican candidate George W. Bush was a close one. But because Gore was stronger than Bush in several key areas, we declare him the winner.

The debate, held at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and moderated by journalist Jim Lehrer, centered on education, taxes, energy, previous political and military experience, Social Security and Medicare. Lehrer also asked questions about the abortion pill RU-486, the energy crisis, potential Supreme Court appointments, campaign finance reform, international relations and character.

Bush emphasized his image as a family man dedicated to empowering Americans. Gore, on the other hand, emphasized his two-decade political career and America's current prosperity. Perhaps because of his limited experience as a debater, Bush relied on certain catch phrases, calling Gore's command of numbers 'fuzzy math' and saying Gore wanted to 'scare people into the voting booths.' Sometimes, however, Bush seemed to expect audience applause when it wasn't there, making his delivery seem strained.

Gore, on the other hand, attacked Bush's tax plan again and again, which he said would give $100 million to the wealthiest 1 percent in America, and Bush's health plan, which wouldn't go into effect for a few years. Gore also caught Bush, contradicting what he had said a few days ago regarding the abortion pill RU-486. In a race as close as this, that kind of blunder may cost Bush the election.

While most political pundits call the debate a tie, most Baylor students in several classes believe Gore won. But a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken hours after the debate found 96 percent of voters said the debate did not make them switch their votes.

Closer to home, Tuesday night's debate was devoid of any discussion on issues that directly affect college students.

'Nobody really asked me for my vote,' Dawn Maple, an Elk City, Okla., junior, said. Most students don't need a comprehensive health care plan, and the Social Security system is bound to change by the time we're old enough to benefit from it. We are too old to worry about our own elementary education and not old enough to worry about our children's elementary education. Inside the Bubble it is easy for us to forget about what's happening in Yugoslavia, and we don't make enough money to care passionately about tax plans. The candidates are missing a substantial segment of the population, and we look for the candidates to address issues important to college students in the next two debates.