Governor George W. Bush Discusses the Third Presidential Debate on the TODAY Show
(October 18, 2000)

TIM RUSSERT reporting: Three weeks to go, are you going to win?

Governor GEORGE W. BUSH: Hope so, think so. But, you know, you never know.

RUSSERT: Why is it so tight?

Gov. BUSH: Because the incumbency has not been able to defend the incumbency. You'd—you'd think that it would be a runaway, wouldn't you, with the economy being good and the world relatively peaceful. But there's some unans—there's some unanswered issues, and that's why—that's why I think I've got a good chance of winning.

RUSSERT: If you look at the world right now, however, Middle East crisis...

Gov. BUSH: Yeah.

RUSSERT: ...stock market went down 150 points again today.

Gov. BUSH: Mm-hmm.

RUSSERT: A lot of companies not meeting their profit statements. A lot of uneasiness, a lot of concern. Are we headed towards a recession?

Gov. BUSH: Energy crisis. You know, it's hard to tell. I certainly hope not. But there are some warning signals. I think one of the biggest signals of all is energy prices. Remember the great strategic petroleum reserve plan that was going to dampen prices, and now they're higher than they were when we started releasing oil. And, no, there are warning signals, there are some other warning signals, kids aren't learning, prescription drugs aren't available for seniors in Medicare. I mean, there's warning signals. One of the reasons I think I've got a chance of winning.

RUSSERT: But if we're talking about warning signals about the economy, you're out there talking tax cuts, the vice president is out there talking about spending programs. We may never see these so-called surpluses because the economy could slow down rather dramatically.

Gov. BUSH: But that's the reason I have tax cuts. That's the reason you give mon—people money back. It's to serve as an insurance policy against an economic slowdown. It's part of the rationale. Part of it, of course, is let people have their own money.

RUSSERT: But if you have no lock box for surpluses, what do you do with Social Security and Medicare?

Gov. BUSH: Well, the Social Security—the Social Security system has—has got $ 2.4 trillion of surplus. That's going to take a heck of a downturn. But I believe that by—by—by cutting taxes it's going to stimulate the economy. I think it's how you avoid recessions. I mean, remember, people are now paying a tax in higher gasoline bills. It's a reason to give people money back. There's a big difference between the vice president and me. I think the biggest threat to economic growth is a huge federal government, and I was making that point tonight.

RUSSERT: You did repeatedly, and when you talked about vouchers, you said that the federal government would not mandate vouchers.

Gov. BUSH: Right.

RUSSERT: And yet, in your econo—in your plan, in your own proposal, it says very clearly, quote, “the state will be required to offer parents $ 1500 per year voucher they can use.”

Gov. BUSH: Well, wha—by that means—that's upon failure. That—that's tied to an accountability system. That's a consequence for federal money. That's different from a system that says you will—you will have an overall voucher program. This says, if you don't meet state stan—if you don't meet standards, if, in other words, if you fail...

RUSSERT: There is a mandate.

Gov. BUSH: ...there's a consequence, yeah.

RUSSERT: And you're comfortable in having that federal mandate?

Gov. BUSH: Yes. I wouldn't have said it if I didn't believe it. But it's a consequence for failures. You know, there are some voucher programs that is auto—everybody is automatically voucherized. Mine says that—that you've got to learn. Now I happen to believe most schools are going to succeed when—when there's high standards and strong accountability.

RUSSERT: One of the joys of coming to Missouri is I had a chance to talk to a lot of these undecided voters, and several Republican women said to me, 'I want to vote for George Bush, but I'm afraid if he's elected, abortion will be outlawed.'

Gov. BUSH: Well, if the, you know, if the single-issue voter, there are some single-issue voters, there's a lot of single-issue voters on the other side of that issue in the state of Missouri as well. But abortion is not going to be outlawed until a lot of minds are changed. Hopefully, I'll be able to work with people to reduce the number of abortions. We ought to—I tell you what will be outlawed I hope, is partial birth abortion, but...

RUSSERT: But in a Bush presidency, abortion would not be outlawed?

Gov. BUSH: I don't—in America it's not going to be outlawed until a lot of people change their mind. And there's going to be abortions one way or the other. And, you know, what we've got to do is convince people that abortion and life is—life is precious and adoption is better than abortion. But that's going to require leadership that doesn't use the issues of political club, but it's somebody that says the value—to promote the value of life.

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