AllPolitics - Debates '96

Campaigns & Elections October/November 1996


Vice Presidential Debate
October 9, 1996

Debate Score Card

Prepared by Ron Faucheux, Editor and Publisher
(See the Campaigns & Elections "Debate Watcher's Guide" for details).

Follow-up questions, please call
202-638-7788 (day) or
202-298-6665 (evening)


FINAL SCORE:
AL GORE 65
JACK KEMP 62

The bottom line: just about a draw. While Gore won a slim three point edge -- it's largely due to his ability to do what was needed in terms of winning this year's election. In many ways, Kemp did very well in terms of framing issues and staying on the offense -- important aspects of any debate -- but within the strategic context of this race, Kemp did not achieve the basic goal of altering the election calculus. Both candidates did a good job presenting a positive picture of their own candidacies as well as the issues identified with their respective tickets. They did it with few mistakes and no major blunders. Kemp showed more passion, Gore was more earnest.

EACH CANDIDATE BEGINS WITH 50 POINTS.
GORE +50, KEMP +50

Part A -- Add Points

1. Did candidate meet or exceed expectations?
GORE +4, KEMP +4
It was expected that both candidates would do well, avoid personal attacks, and would stick to the details of the issues. Republicans may be unhappy with Kemp's unwillingness to take the gloves off.

2. Did candidate accomplish what he needed to do?
GORE +7, KEMP +2
Gore, like Clinton, had to avoid risks and mistakes even if it meant missing some opportunities. Kemp needed to create doubt about Democratic policies in general and about the wisdom of Clinton policies in particular. Both candidates had one eye on the next four weeks -- as vice presidential candidates -- and one eye on the next four years -- as a potential presidential candidate. To do the latter, Kemp had a more delicate job -- maintaining his independence while maintaining his loyalty to Dole and the GOP. Kemp did well in terms of 2000 but failed to land a knock out punch on Clinton and/or Gore -- something he needed to do for his 1996 chances. Gore did well pressing the point about the Dole/Kemp risky tax scheme and stuck to the Clinton message on issues where the Democrats are ahead. Like the first Clinton-Dole debate, in this debate the GOP candidate did well but did not sufficiently alter the dynamics of the race to say that his objective -- for 1996, anyway -- was accomplished.

3. Did candidate control agenda and remain on the offense?
GORE +1, KEMP +4
Gore was often on the defense, which resulted from a cautious, overall, avoid-all-mistakes strategy -- though he handled statistics very well in explaining the basic Clinton message: We're better off than we were 4 years ago. Kemp did a good job framing his message about Washington making too many decisions in terms of taxes and the economy. Kemp was defensive on the medical leave issue.

4. Did candidate get the better of the opposition in key exchanges or confrontations?
GORE +0, KEMP +0
Kemp did very well during the early discussions involving taxes and the economy; Gore held a weaker hand and but did well using statistics to show economic improvement under his administration.

5. Did the candidate answer questions effectively?
GORE +5, KEMP +5
Gore did well responding to Kemp's "Niagara Falls" remark with the "barrel" reply. He also used the Kemp on Dole ("He never met a tax....") quote well; Kemp did not respond to that. While Kemp handled the abortion question well, it gave Gore a chance to underscore his position with pro-choice women. Kemp's responses on foreign policy issues were generally weak; Gore did much better on international affairs. Kemp gave a weak answer on medical leave; again, Gore was on the side of public opinion. Kemp was a little too theoretical on some key points, while Gore gave smooth, pragmatic answers that were easily understandable to their base constituencies and to swing voters. Kemp was strong on matters involving minorities.

SUBTOTAL OF ADDED POINTS:
GORE +67, KEMP +65


Part B -- Deduct Points

Candidate Appearance:
(May deduct up to 5 points)

Both candidates presented themselves well; no points were deducted for either in this area.

Hair & Grooming
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Tired & worn
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Clothing inappropriate, sloppy
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Make-up not well done
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Poor posture
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Unpleasant, distracting facial expressions
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Tone:
(May deduct up to 5 points)

Too negative, nasty
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Weak, uncertain
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Humorless, too intense
GORE -0, KEMP -0
Gore's initial self-deprecating remark helped him.

Obnoxious, arrogant, ornery
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Speaking Style:
(May deduct up to 5 points)

Garbled, confused expression of ideas
GORE -0, KEMP -1
Gore did a little better here in terms of clarity of his responses. Kemp often uses words that don't relate to average voters.

Incomplete, fragmented statements
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Inability to stay within time limit
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Poor eye contact
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Speaking too fast,too slow
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Too automated, canned
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Too loud, too low
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Lack of animation
GORE -1, KEMP -0
Gore did better than he usually gets credit for, but there was less animation on his part than on Kemp's part.

Low energy level
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Monotonous, no inflection
GORE -0, KEMP -0

General Matters:
(May deduct up to 5 points)

Unprepared, lack of knowledge
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Nervousness
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Ineffective opening
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Ineffective closing
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Lack of alertness
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Stiff and wooden
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Disorganized presentation
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Other:
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Major Blunders:
(May deduct up to 10 points)

Serious gaffe, embarrassing misstatement, or erroneous declaration
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Loss of cool, unpleasant display of anger or irritation
GORE -0, KEMP -0

Poor handling of an exchange with opponent or questioner
GORE -1, KEMP -2
Kemp got the better of Gore on tax issues. Gore did better on foreign policy. On the environment, Kemp had a tougher and more complex chore -- and handled it well, although Gore's viewpoint was expressed with clarity and has wider voter support.

TOTAL POINT DEDUCTIONS (Part B):
GORE -2, KEMP -3

FINAL SCORE:

AL GORE 65

JACK KEMP 62


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