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CNN's post debate 'town hall' gives points to Gore - with reservations

WARREN, Michigan (CNN) -- Uncommitted voters in Michigan, one of the electoral prizes up for grabs in this year's presidential race, were divided over Democratic Vice President Al Gore's performance in Tuesday's final debate -- but most think he dominated the event.

Town hall meeting
Undecided Michigan voters share their impressions of the final presidential debate with CNN's Wolf Blitzer  

After being criticized for being too passive in his last encounter with Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Gore aggressively battled back in Tuesday night's 90-minute session in St. Louis, Missouri. That was the judgment of a panel of 17 undecided voters CNN assembled to review the debate, even if they didn't like the show.

With 18 electoral votes, Michigan is one of the bigger states that remain tossups three weeks before election day. As in the first debate, however, many voters in the suburban Detroit town hall meeting said they were put off by Gore's demeanor even if they thought he won the debate.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer hosts a town hall meeting on third Bush-Gore debate: Part 1

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"There's fighting for what you want, and then there's being argumentative," said Joell Cooper. He said he thought Bush started off weak and nervous, but regained his confidence by the end. He said he started the evening leaning toward Bush, but said he said he remained uncommitted.

Another voter who scored the debate in Gore's favor said Bush avoided answering questions that Gore was ready to answer.

"I think that Al Gore showed that he knew his facts much more than what Bush did," said Julie Kallio. "Bush hemmed and hawed, beat around the bush and did not give direct answers to several questions."

Sheryl Bruins-Rozier said she also remained uncommitted, but said the vice president "lost this debate in my mind because of this approach."

"He especially was not answering the questions that were asked of him. He had his agenda of what he wanted to talk about tonight and no matter what the question was, he had to get back to his agenda. He even stole time from somebody else's question to answer a question from previously," she said.

But some others found Gore's aggressive nature appealing.

"Last week I did think Vice President Gore seemed rather wimpy by agreeing with Bush," said Carmen Stuyvenberg, who said she now was likely to vote for Gore. "I wanted to see the differences. He wants my vote, he's got to convince me why."

"He knows his issues, he knows his stands and I think today he proved it," she added.

Phil Holm, a teacher who remained uncommitted after the third debate, said he was impressed with Gore's handling of a question on education.

"He spoke to a lot of the difficulties teachers have," Holm said. "He seemed to answer it and George Bush seemed to duck it."

Holm also disagrees with Bush on vouchers for private schools, which the Texas governor supports. "I'd still like to vote for Bush because I like his stand on the Second Amendment," he said, referring to the portion of the Constitution regarding the right to bear firearms. "I wish I could combine the two candidates," he added.

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.


Wednesday, October 18, 2000


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