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Election 2000

Former Vice President Walter Mondale on the 2000 Democratic Convention

August 15, 2000
Posted at: 9:59 a.m. EDT

(CNN) -- In 1960, Mondale was appointed state attorney general by Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman. Mondale was attorney general until 1964, when he was asked by Governor Karl Rolvaag to fill Hubert Humphrey's U.S. Senate seat. Mondale served in the Senate for 12 years.

On Nov. 2, 1976 Walter Mondale was elected vice president of the United States. Mondale traveled extensively throughout the nation and the world. He was the first vice president to have an office in the White House. In 1984, Mondale was the Democratic Party's nominee for president of the United States. He lost to President Ronald Reagan. Mondale became U.S. ambassador to Japan on Aug. 13, 1993. Mondale was ambassador until December, 1997.

Chat Moderator: Welcome to the Allpolitics Chat, former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Walter Mondale: Hello, everybody! I'm glad to be here.

Question from Rilian: Mr. Mondale, do you think that the debates this year are going to matter? You soundly defeated Ronald Reagan in the debates that you had, but you did not win the election.

In-Depth Coverage of the Democratic National Convention
Walter Mondale:
I think the debates are very important. It's really the one time for sure when voters have a chance to see the candidates in an uncontrived environment. They're asked tough questions by good reporters. Often, there are follow up questions.

You can measure the skills, talents and energy levels of the candidates in that environment more than in any other. This year, that's especially important. We have a lot of issues to debate. There will be big audiences, and personally, I think Gore will come out of that far ahead.

Question from Liberal: Mr. Mondale, what social issue do you think will promise to be most advantageous for the Democrats this fall?

Walter Mondale: I wouldn't pick just one. I think they come together. It's an underlying philosophy, as well as specifics, that are at issue. The Republicans used their convention time for fluff. They didn't get to issues because they have none.

But, we have to keep supporting and improving education. That's essential. We have to continue our commitment toward a society that doesn't discriminate based on age, race, sexual preference, gender and the other things that can divide our people. The Democrats are very committed to this.

We've got to keep at it. We've got to get control of guns and gun violence. We need to get control of the environment. I'll stop here, but the list is long.

Question from Dan: Mr. Mondale, do you have any advice for Al Gore in the debates?

Walter Mondale: Yes; he should be himself. Gore has a lot of qualities. He is very bright. He has had a lot of experience. He is very disciplined. He knows these issues in a very impressive way.

He's ready to be president. He should just look deep within himself, and have confidence that the public will respect those values, skills and talents, because they will.

Question from Libertarian: Mr. Mondale, do you believe that other candidates should be included in the debates?

Walter Mondale: I think the rule at this point is about right. In other words, if they're bellow 15 percent in the polls, they shouldn't be admitted. Under those rules, they allowed John Anderson in 1980 to debate, and Ross Perot two years ago.

The problem is this: Everyone wants into that debate. Buchanan wants in, Nader wants in, and three or four others want in. If you allow everyone to debate, instead of having a serious, profound focus on which of these two will be president, you get a huge cross section of candidates using up the time. It loses something. All along, those candidates have had a chance to be in the process, but now we're at the end, and there has to be a screening process.

Question from Liberal: Mr. Mondale, do you believe it is wise for the so-called "New Democratic Movement" to continue putting base liberal values like abolishing the death penalty on hold for the sake of political expediency?

Walter Mondale: I guess I don't agree with the basis of that question. I know we refer to it as the "New Democratic Party," but if we're a good party, we're always changing. That doesn't mean we're without values. But, we have to attack problems in the context of our times.

Question from IvyLeaguer: Do you think that the attempt to portray Al Gore so closely to Clinton's shadow proves that George W. Bush wants to conceal his inexperience by shifting the focus?

Walter Mondale: I believe that they have a clear strategy of trying to avoid a direct debate over issues and policies, to distract public attention from the qualities that Gore and Lieberman bring to the ticket. President Clinton misbehaved. We all know that. But no one has suggested that Gore is responsible for this, so let's get on with the real question: "Where does this nation go?"

Chat Moderator: What does Vice President Gore need to say on Thursday to rally the party, and deepen his support among the rank and file Democrats?

Walter Mondale: I think he has to be Al Gore. I think he has to tell us where he wants to take us. President Clinton did a great job last night describing what they've accomplished over these last 8 years. Now Gore and Lieberman are on their own. It's their party, our party, and they're the future.

He has a tremendous chance on Thursday to show us where he wants to take us. He will contrast greatly from George W. Bush. Bush's policies are the same ones I campaigned against 20 years ago; same stuff!

First, they say they want to cut taxes $1 trillion. That's what they said back then. They did it, and it almost ruined us. Let's not make that mistake again.

Second, they say: "Let's have star wars." They want to build a big national program based on an unrealized technological theory, and this could lead to instability, and an arms race. I think it reminds me of the last time they were around.

Finally, they want to privatize Social Security. The Democrats are not going to let that happen.

Chat Moderator: Do you have any final thoughts for us?

Walter Mondale: Well, watch tomorrow night, and you'll see our new leader, Mr. Lieberman, and Thursday night you'll see our next president.

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us, former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Walter Mondale: Thank you very much!

Former Vice President Walter Mondale joined the Allpolitics Chat from the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, California. CNN provided a typist for Mondale. The above is an edited transcript of the chat, which took place on Tuesday, August 15, 2000.

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