Vice President Gore Discusses the Third Debate on the TODAY Show
(October 18, 2004)

COURIC: Governor George W. Bush with Tim Russert. Tim also spoke with Vice President Gore, and the vice president weighed in on everything from the economy to the subway series.

RUSSERT: Mr. Vice President, three weeks to go, you going to win?

Vice President AL GORE: Well, that will be up to the American people, Tim.

RUSSERT: Prosperity is the linchpin, in effect, of your candidacy. Are you concerned that oil prices are going up, the average consumer is going to spend $ 250 more to heat their home this year, per month, the stock market down another 150 points today. Earning statements by many major companies, particularly high-tech companies, down dramatically. Is this economy slowing down? Is this prosperity slowing down?

Vice Pres. GORE: I don't think so, because the fundamentals are very sound. You look at Europe, you look at Asia, the United States is the star of the world economy. This is the place to invest. This is the place where the future is being born. The stock market has tripled over the last eight years. We're seeing--well, look at oil prices. They're, you know, in light of all the events in the Middle East, they're staying relatively stable.

RUSSERT: No warning signs?

Vice Pres. GORE: Well, we have to--to stay on top of our game. We have to keep fighting for the American people.

RUSSERT: Gore, the big spender, one of the themes that Governor Bush tried to make.

Vice Pres. GORE: It's a myth. It's a myth.

RUSSERT: You said the journalist should be the score card. The LA Times: 'Gore's plan is far more spending than Clinton spent four years ago.' The Committee For Responsible Federal Budget, Leon--Leon Panetta, your former chief of staff.

Vice Pres. GORE: No, no, no, no. That plan was written by a donor to Governor Bush. The LA Times, what--which you cite, said that Governor Bush's commercial on this was very misleading. Look, I have presided over the sharpest reduction in the size of the federal government in the entire history of our country. Three hundred--more than 300,000 people less now than when I started on the re-inventing government program. And, under my four-year budget plan, government spending as a percentage of our economy will be the lowest in 50 years. We'll have a smaller, smarter government, where people don't have to wait in lines because they'll get services online.

RUSSERT: You mentioned vouchers tonight. There was quite an interesting exchange on it. Al Gore, August 9th in Carthage, Tennessee, your hometown, 'If I was the parent of a child who went to an inner city school that was failing, I might be for vouchers too.'

Vice Pres. GORE: Yeah. Yeah, I said--and I said something like that tonight. If I thought there was no alternative, I might feel differently about vouchers. But look, Tim, that's why I want to make the dramatic, major improvement of our public schools our number one priority. I budget for it. I shift money out of the lower priority programs. This has to happen.

RUSSERT: Why not take just a small amount of money, not out of the public schools, separate and above, from the surplus...

Vice Pres. GORE: It doesn't work that way.

RUSSERT: ...and--and let those poor parents, give them a chance?

Vice Pres. GORE: It doesn't--it doesn't work that way, Tim. Most communities set aside a certain amount--I know you feel--I know you're in favor of vouchers. But if--if you...

RUSSERT: No, I have no view on it. I have no view. But I went to a private school, you went to a private school, your children go to private school, mine go to private school.

Vice Pres. GORE: All my children when the to both public school and private school.

RUSSERT: Why--why not give...

Vice Pres. GORE: In most communities...

RUSSERT: ...as you said, 'If I was the parent of a child that went to an inner city school that was failing, I might be for vouchers too.' Why not give it a shot?

Vice Pres. GORE: You're--you're--you're changing it just a little bit. What I said was, if I thought there was no other alternative for bringing about the changes that are needed, I might feel differently. But there is another alternative. If there is a failing school, I think we should work with the states to shut down any--any failing school, and immed--plan ahead--immediately re-open it with a new principal, a turnaround team of specialists that get that school headed in the right direction right away. Governor Jim Hunt of North Carolina has put a plan just like that into effect, and it works great.

RUSSERT: We called his office tonight.

Vice Pres. GORE: Yeah.

RUSSERT: He has not shut down any schools.

Vice Pres. GORE: Well, he has turned around a bunch of schools that were failing schools, and he has sent specialists in. Whether the terminology used is shut down or whether it's a takeover, you know, that's something that you want to...

RUSSERT: He says--he says he hasn't had to do that yet.

Vice Pres. GORE: Well, he--he turns--he turns around the failing schools by--by bringing in new personnel and turning them around dramatically. And, you know, the terminology that you use is not important.

RUSSERT: Mets, Yankees, who you for?

Vice Pres. GORE: Tim, Tim, I'm for New York City.

COURIC: Al Gore with Tim Russert. It is 7:16. Once again, here's Matt.

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