Vice President Al Gore Discusses the Second Presidential Debate on the TODAY Show
(October 12, 2000)

KATIE COURIC, co-host:

NBC's Tom Brokaw was also at the debate last night, and afterwards, he sat down with Vice President Gore.

TOM BROKAW reporting:

Mr. Vice President, we know that you were advised to change your body language in this debate, but were there times tonight when you felt too restrained when you wanted to roll your eyes, when you wanted to let out a sigh?

Vice President AL GORE: I feel strongly about these issues, Tom. And I have to acknowledge I sometimes will, but I put all my sighs in a lock box tonight.

BROKAW: But were there times when you wanted to be more aggressive with him?

Vice Pres. GORE: Well, I don't know. I think the format is a good one. It encourages a more restrained and genteel debate. And I enjoyed it. I thought it was a good discussion of our priorities. And I think that contrast came across very clearly. If you give so much of the surplus away in a very large tax cut that goes mostly to the--to the very wealthy, then you don't have enough left over for education and health care--middle class tax cuts, retirement security, the environment. And we feel differently about these things.

BROKAW: But the focus groups that we had on afterward, both in Florida and in Ohio, felt that Governor Bush was more commanding and much more at ease this time, and certainly more on top of the issues. Is that a fair assessment?

Vice Pres. GORE: No, I don't think so. In fact, I think too much is made of instant polls and focus groups. You know, they showed the reverse in last week's debate. And after a couple of days' reflection, people--some of them reversed their judgment. And I--I think that you have to look at these three debates together, as a group. And I think that's the way most of the American people will. I think that they're going to make a judgment very close to election time. This is one of the closest races ever. Probably the closest since 1960. And it's a lot of fun. It is a great challenge. And a great opportunity for our country to choose priorities, to choose a new president, but to choose a new direction.

BROKAW: Are you at all concerned that this economy does seem to be slowing down? There are real signs, not just in the stock market.

Vice Pres. GORE: I don't see it that way. You know, just last week we got the new unemployment figures, which showed they've dropped to the lowest level in 30 years. And the--the sharpest drops were among African-Americans, and Latinos, and in inner cities. We're seeing a strengthening of the base of our economy. And we continue to see these very large productivity gains, which give us the ability to have high growth rates with low inflation. That's why Alan Greenspan, among others, has speculated that there are, indeed, elements of a new economy that make it possible for to us sustain growth at higher levels for a longer period of time.

BROKAW: Was there any time tonight in which you thought that Governor Bush was inaccurate or unfair to you in this debate?

Vice Pres. GORE: There, obviously, were several times where the commentators are saying, 'Yeah, he misstated things,' but I'll leave that to others.

BROKAW: You don't want to address it?

Vice Pres. GORE: Well, I mean, I think the more important questions for me are--are priorities. Whatever misstatements occurred about the aftermath of the James Byrd crime in--in--in Texas is the main...

BROKAW: Well, he said--he said all three of them got the death penalty when two did, and one got life in prison.

Vice Pres. GORE: And I think the important thing is that he left the impression that--that his position was the same as mine, and that he was for that law, when the sponsors of the law certainly felt differently, and the Byrd family felt differently, and all the news reports that covered it were--were different. And--but, see, I don't think the details are--are so important. I don't think they're evidence of a--of a character flaw. I--I--I think that the--the large things are important. Social Security, for example, he has a--a trillion dollar promise out of Social Security, to young working couples for--for savings and investment. But the same trillion dollars is needed to keep his promise to seniors that there will be no benefit cuts. That's promising the same trillion dollars to two different groups of people. That's a big--that's a big problem.

COURIC: Vice President Al Gore with Tom Brokaw.

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