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    Letters to the Editors

    Third debate displayed Gore's shortcomings

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2000

    Al Gore's performance in Tuesday's debate again demonstrated his shortcomings as a candidate for our nation's highest elected office. Despite his sometimes polished delivery, it's obvious that he will do and say anything to influence voters.

    He claims he's for smaller government, yet, according to financial experts, his spending plans would result in the largest increases ever in federal spending. He also claimed to have reduced federal staffing by 300,000 employees. In fact, federal staffing is only down this much because of the mass exodus of military personnel due to their dissatisfaction with the current state of our armed forces.

    I have grown tired of Gore's incessant chants of "I will do this . . . I will do that . . . if elected." The success of any president is historically measured by his ability to bring opposing political viewpoints together to do what is best for our country, its citizens and our allies throughout the world. I have yet to see Gore, unlike George W. Bush, mention how he would accomplish any of his plans. He may try by being the inconsiderate bully that was once again evident in the last debate. His lack of credibility would also make it difficult for him to work effectively with what will undoubtedly be a Republican-controlled Congress.

    Make no mistake: Al Gore is not out to help the middle class, the elderly or other needy Americans. He's simply out to feed his enormous ego at the political feeding trough in Washington.
    -- Jim Roark, Safety Harbor

    Gore has what it takes

    Now I know which candidate I will vote for. It is Al Gore, of course. Until I watched the third debate I was undecided, but at last it became clear.

    Gore presented his case like a professional. It was clear and factual. He had obviously done his homework. I do not agree entirely with all of his proposed programs, but, at least, he did have programs to put forward.

    George W. Bush, on the other hand offered nothing. He made grand statements about wonderful tax cuts but admitted that these would benefit the very rich. He sees no reason why the poor and middle classes should have any advantage. He constantly referred to his marvelous work in Texas when all the statistics show that Texas is lagging far behind in improving the quality of life.

    Also, when challenged on specifics, he resorted to snide remarks, whined about the "rules of debating" and then waffled about all sorts of things that had nothing to do with the question.

    Gore comes across as an honest man, determined to do his best for the people. Bush prefers to play to the gallery, raising sniggers and trying desperately (to use his own term) to put across fuzzy math that the people will mistake for real programs. Of course, it is very probable that Bush will get elected. After all, he has the backing of the powerful oil companies, and they have ruled this country for a hundred years.

    Why is it that all the good men get defeated and we end up with a super used car salesman as president?
    -- Dennis Harrison, Clearwater

    His character is in question

    In the last debate Al Gore was asked if he thought character was important. His answer was a resounding yes.

    Apparently both candidates had agreed to some debate rules, such as the two-minute time limit and no questions to each other or to the audience. Gore broke all three of these rules. In one instance even though his two minutes were up, he asked the moderator for more time. The moderator was forced to play the role of judge in order to keep Gore from monopolizing the debate. Gore tried to bend the rules in his favor -- he wanted to get in the last word.

    If one is not honoring the rules in order to be one up on his opponent, to win at any cost, then I would call such behavior cheating. Does this behavior have anything to do with character?

    Throughout the debate, Gore many times used the phrase, "I promise . . ." So whatever problem you have, whether you are poor, want to go to college, are part of the middle class or a senior citizen, Gore promises to solve your problem with money. To me promises made with an intended purpose of a payback such as a vote are really dishonest because it is an attempt to manipulate people. Does such behavior have anything to do with character?

    It is well known that Gore and President Clinton rented out the Lincoln bedroom for their own political benefit. They also managed to get Chinese nationals to donate money to them through the monks of a Buddhist temple. Would you say this is right or wrong and does it have anything to do with character?

    I agree with Al Gore. Character is important.
    -- Harvey Oltendorf, Homosassa

    Bush lacks stature to be president

    After watching the three presidential debates, listening to the comments and reading many articles, I have come to a frightening conclusion: The American public is either not listening, not reading or is so intent on getting President Clinton out of office that they aren't noticing that Clinton isn't running. I can't explain how anyone can say George W. Bush has "won" any of the debates. He is is unprepared, has no grasp of facts and avoids every issue for which he hasn't copped a cute phrase for his answer ("mediscare," "fuzzy math," "affirmative access" and so on).

    He visibly shrinks when he's not getting his way and looks so small and weak that I cringe at what kind of impression he would make in a circle of world leaders!

    While Gore may not have all of the answers -- no one does -- it is clear to me that he is the only viable candidate who can think on his feet, knows how to research an issue and will be a presence in the community of world leaders.

    The reality of politics is that neither man's programs can be realized without a great deal of bipartisan compromise and agreement in Congress. What Bush frequently refers to as his "bipartisan" record is nothing but old-fashioned Texas cronyism. Both parties' plans would likely look very different by the time they are realized. That's what Congress does and what it always will do.

    That being said, I cannot support a candidate who would remove a woman's right to choices about her body and health, feels private schools should receive taxpayer money, would move Social Security taxes into the volatile stock market, just to name a few points.

    Finally, if someone could describe the appeal of George W. that people state as the reason he gets their vote, please let me in on on it. I see a good ol' oil field Texas boy who got bored with his ranch and his money and became governor of Texas to pass the time. What's so appealing about that?
    -- Carolyn Becker, Belleair Bluffs
    Gore's ability to lead is in doubt
    It was reported that the "real" Al Gore showed up at the third presidential debate.
    I found Gore to be rude to an audience member when he decided to promote his own agenda instead of answering the first question he was asked. I found him to be arrogant when he ignored the moderator and decided the rules he insisted on didn't really apply to him. I found him to be discourteous to Gov. George W. Bush by interrupting often, at least once sighing loudly and then pouting whenever he didn't get the last word.
    A candidate who is unsure of his own identity, who must force his agenda on others (think negotiating), who is impatient, pouty and cannot abide by his own agreed-upon debate conditions does not have the emotional intelligence to lead, or to bring conciliation among others. Character does indeed count.
    Claudia Kuhn, Leesburg

    We should keep on course

    This vote will probably be the most important one for the country in many years. We Americans need to help continue the healing and prosperous economy we have had these past eight years.

    The negative politics by the George W. Bush camp are misleading and very un-adult -- to say the least. Bush would have America elect him as the town marshal, running things the way they do in Texas.

    When Bush admitted to favoring the ultra-rich in tax cuts and saying time and again how he doesn't like Washington people or the federal government, it shows me his lack of credibility and character to be a chief executive. If elected, he would be the federal government!

    So, wake up America, and you Republicans, who are just following Bush because you're registered with the GOP. Open your mind and vote for what America needs: A fair, honest, people-oriented man: Al Gore.
    -- John F. Barfield, St. Petersburg

    Remember the congressional gantlet

    We senior citizens know very well and must remember that the prescription drug plan coming from each presidential candidate is a proposal that will be besieged by lobbyists and special interests while going through various committees, amendments, changes, compromises by both the House and Senate. It will be altogether different from the original proposal by the time it reaches the president's desk for signing or veto.

    Let us not get false hopes.
    -- Harry Harper, Clearwater

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