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Bush, Gore campaigns laud running mates' debate performance

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush and Gore campaigns were quick to offer words of praise for vice presidential candidates Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman after their subdued debate Thursday night.

Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush and Democratic rival Al Gore tuned into Thursday night's vice presidential debate from the campaign trail as Cheney and Lieberman picked up the on many the same issues they emphasized two nights ago in Boston -- minus the scripted the attack lines.

Dick Cheney says the United States "might have no other choice" but military action to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein if he is found to be developing weapons of mass destruction  

Not surprisingly, Bush thought Cheney won the debate "hands down."

"I want to tell you how proud I was of Dick Cheney tonight. America got to see why I picked this man as my running mate," said the GOP nominee, appearing via satellite at a post-debate rally in Danville, Kentucky, the site of the debate.

Bush watched the debate from his hotel room in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Gore tuned in privately after making a brief appearance at a Democratic debate-watching party in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

"Senator Lieberman was great," said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane. "He made the case to the American people about how we should use our prosperity in a responsible way to benefit all of our people."

The vice presidential nominees -- meeting in their sole debate less than five weeks before the November 7 election -- wrangled over traditional campaign themes such as the national economy, taxes, education, defense and the environment.

Pledging to avoid personal attacks on one another, the two nominees fielded questions on racial and gender equality, gay rights and international policy. Besides a couple of quick-witted personal exchanges near the end of their encounter, many regarded the vice presidential debate as the most substantive in recent memory.

"These are good people, two good people, and I loved watching them. If the American people don't like that, let them go somewhere else, move on out," said former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming. "If that isn't what politics isn't about, then I've missed by boat."

If elected, Joe Lieberman says the first civil rights act he and Al Gore would send to Congress would be a national ban on racial profiling  

The Bush and Gore campaign juggernauts did their best to put their best "spin" on the low-key debate.

"I think the American people won by having a good opportunity to gauge these two men and they especially walked with a firm relocation of what they thought so highly of Dick Cheney during the Gulf War ... He was clearly in command tonight," Bush campaign strategist Karl Rove said of Cheney, who served as defense secretary under President Bush.

Despite some memorable exchanges in years past, vice presidential debates have historically had very little impact on the larger presidential contests. Rove echoed that point of view Thursday night.

"The effect of these debates is going to be cumulative, and the end of these four debates -- three presidential and one vice presidential -- people are going to take an assessment of the two tickets and make up their minds with some finality. The effect of any given debate ... is going to be small."

Gore supporters had expected Cheney to pick up were Bush left off Tuesday night, questioning the vice president's credibility and questionable fund-raising activities during the 1996 campaign. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, was pleasantly surprised he did not.

"I think the winner tonight was the American public. This was a very good debate, civil debate. I know it probably lacked the fireworks that some would have wanted, but I thought it was a very competent explanation of the two points of view," Dodd told CNN.

"I thought Joe did a fabulous job, as the vice president did on Tuesday night, of laying out of the significant differences that exist with regard to Social Security and Medicare."

Where do Bush and Gore stand on issues of importance to Europe? Launch our Interactive Guide.

View the latest tracking poll or dig into our poll archives.


Watch selected policy speeches and campaign commercials from the major presidential candidates.

See where George W. Bush and Al Gore stand on the major issues.

Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? What are the presidential primary results and exit polls? Find out with these state political and election facts.

Get Election 2000 zip code searchable candidate biographies and other material for races for governor, Senate and House in our Election Guide.

How much money have the candidates raised? Here are their quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission.

If you need to know who's up in 2000 and what seats are open, launch this quick guide.

WEB WHITE AND BLUE is a partner in the Web White and Blue rolling cyber-debate, a daily online exchange among the major presidential candidates. Look for twice-daily updates Sunday through Friday until election day.


Friday, October 6, 2000


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