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Presidential Candidates Debates: Republican Presidential Candidates Town Hall at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire
Presidential
Presidential Candidates Debates
Republican Presidential Candidates Town Hall at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire
October 28, 1999
Campaign 2000
Location:

United States
New Hampshire
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PARTICIPANTS:
Gary Bauer (President, Family Research Council);
Steve Forbes (Businessperson);
Senator Orrin Hatch (UT);
Former Ambassador Alan Keyes;
Senator John McCain (AZ)

MODERATORS:
Judy Woodruff, CNN; and
Tom Griffith, WMUR

Griffith: Good evening, and thank you all very much for joining us here in New Hampshire tonight. As you all well know, here in New Hampshire we get a great opportunity to see the candidates up close and ask them very important questions face to face.

Woodruff: And in keeping with that tradition, that is exactly what they're going to be doing over the next hour right here. There are about 300 voters from the upper valley of New Hampshire and elsewhere in this state, here in Hanover at Dartmouth's Moore Theater. They were selected by the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth, which is a center for public affairs and civic leadership. They were chosen by lottery.

Griffith: Audience members submitted their questions in advance. WMUR-TV and CNN sorted through them for currency, also for timeliness and relevancy. Those are the questions which our five Republican presidential candidates will be asked to face from you tonight.

Woodruff: Now, let's meet the candidates. From the left, let's welcome Senator Orrin Hatch...[applause]...Senator John McCain...[applause]...former Ambassador Alan Keyes...[applause]...former Reagan administration official Gary Bauer...[applause]...and publisher Steve Forbes.

Governor George W. Bush declined our invitation.

Each of the candidates -- each of the candidates will have 90 seconds to answer questions posed by voters in this audience.

Griffith: Let's begin with our first question. Would you please state your name, give us your home town, and then pose your question to the candidate?

QUESTION: Hi. I'm Cindy Biddinger and I'm from Hanover, New Hampshire. I have a question for Senator McCain. Should the Republican Party be more inclusive by encouraging pro-choice voters to support their candidates?

McCain: Thank you very much, Cindy. Thank you for the question and first of all, obviously, I'd like to thank Tom and Judy for being here. I'd like to thank WMUR and CNN for sponsoring what the people of New Hampshire expect and demand, and that's to see us, to talk to us and hear what we have to say. And I'd also like to thank myself for making sure that Dartmouth won their first victory of the season on Saturday. [laughter]

McCain: Mr. President, I sent...[applause]

Since we take credit for everything, I might as well that.

Cindy, I thank you for the question because I worry -- I worry a great deal about the unintended consequences of sending a message that we're not an inclusionary party. I am a proud pro-life person. I have a 17-year record on that issue. But I believe that we must begin a dialogue and a discussion on the issue of abortion. Both pro-life and pro-choice people believe very strongly that we need to eliminate abortion.

I and my wife, Cindy, are proud adoptive parents. We need to encourage adoption in America. We need to match up those children that have no families with those families that have no children. We need to improve foster care dramatically in America.

We can work together. And my party, which is proud of its pro- life position and I am proud of it, should send the word: We want you in our party. We can have respectful disagreements on specific issues and we can work together on this one. I thank you. [applause]

Griffith: Thank you, Senator. [applause]

Woodruff: The next question for Steve Forbes. [applause]

Q: I'm John Scott, from Plainfield, New Hampshire. I believe we need to start making polluters pay more of their fair share for clean air and clean water. In a lot of states around the country including New Hampshire and Texas, some of the biggest polluting power plants and incinerators, pay only a fraction of the true cost and that leaves the rest of us to make up the difference, either with our wallets, or maybe with our health.

What I'd like to know is, where in your economic plan are the pollution fees, or other market place incentives that will get polluters to clean up their act?

Forbes: Well, thank you very much for your question. As a father of five daughters, and my wife, Sabina, is here tonight, obviously, I have a keen interest in clean water, a good environment, clean air.

There's not point in having economic progress if you don't have a good quality of life. That's the point of moving forward. And there's a lot that can be done. And we can take heart from the progress we've made in the last 25 years.

Pollutants in the air are way down, from 30 to 90 percent. Lakes have been cleaned up. Rivers that were dead have come to life. So progress can be made.

We're getting more fuel efficiency. We're also getting automobiles that are far less polluting than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago.

So, a lot can be done. But the key is to have a practical, can- do, approach of moving forward.

Take for example Superfunds. The Superfund which is supposed to clean up toxic waste dumps. The way Washington has run the thing is that most of that money has gone to lawyers, billions and billions of dollars. Sixty cents on the dollar goes for legal fees.

Forbes: Over 20 years ago, 1,200 sites were cited as extremely dangerous. Since then, you how many have been cleaned up? Less than half.

So, the resources are there. We can do the job. The question is getting Washington to allow us to do the job, whether on the state level or on the national level. There's a lot more to be done.

Griffith: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Our next question is for Mr. Bauer. State your name and your hometown, please.

Q: My name...

Protester: [off-mike] cut military spending.

Griffith: Excuse me, ma'am.

Protester: You could cut military spending so we can have good [inaudible], good health care, good education...

Griffith: Excuse me, ma'am. Our next question is...

Protester: [inaudible] nuclear weapons.

Griffith: Excuse me, ma'am. Let's move on to our next question.

Woodruff: Let's go on with our question. Say your question.

Protester: It's ridiculous that nobody ever talks about it.

Q: My name is Emily Sutton. I'm from Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Mr. Bauer, my question is for you. In recent years, we've seen a growing disparity between technological haves and have nots. The have nots, in their turn, don't have access to information which many people do have. I was wondering if you do see this as a problem. And if so, do you think it's something that will run its own course or is there a plan of action that you plan to take?

Bauer: You said you first name was Ellen?

Q: Emily.

Bauer: Emily, I'm sorry. It's very difficult to hear with the defense speech going on there.

Emily, it's an extremely important question. And I think it's an educational question. Many of you may know that I was undersecretary of education under Ronald Reagan, and was in charge of a $17 billion budget, and had about 17,000 bureaucrats working for me. And I have to tell you it was an incredibly eye-opening experience.

Those bureaucrats were good people, but I spent about 90 percent of every day saying no to just really bad ideas.

We've got a real disparity in American education right now. Many of the suburbs have a lot of resources that they can use and they can get better results. But in the inner cities we've got schools that just aren't working.

I believe one of the things we can do to solve that is to provide educational choice for those parents. If we can give low-income parents vouchers, then they can go to that local principal and say: You're not teaching our children the math and they science that they're going to need to be competitive in this world.

I believe that's a basic reform and we've got to do it. I think it'll make real progress on this issue so we don't have another whole generation left behind on the most important advances that the country's experiencing.

Woodruff: Thank you, Mr. Bauer.

Next question here for Senator Hatch. Please tell us your name and where you're from.

Q: My name is Chris Miller, and I'm from Alstead, New Hampshire. And I'd like to hear the senator's position on Second Amendment rights, and if elected, what his policy would be toward the recent wave of litigation facing the firearms industry.

Hatch: Well, let me tell you something. When it comes to constitutional -- expressed constitutional provisions, and the Second Amendment is one of those expressed provisions, you've got to be very loathe to try and change that provision by mere statute. So I'm a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.

I'm also a strong criticizer of this administration, because there are people being killed in our society today because they're not enforcing the law. Parents are afraid to have their kids go to school because they don't know whether those kids are going to be safe in schools. They're worried to death about it. And the reason they are is because 12,000 kids and adults took guns to school in the last two years in violation of law.

Guess how many prosecutions by this administration -- 13. And I can go down through every law that this administration hasn't enforced over the last number of years.

So I'm very concerned about it. People like you are concerned. Parents are concerned. Schools are concerned. And I've got to tell you, we've got too many guns in the streets in the hands of criminals.

I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd pass the Juvenile Justice Bill, which has a number of provisions in it that would help to alleviate these problems. But I'd also do this, I'd have the Hatch 10, 20, Life Amendment. And that is, if you commit a crime with the use of a gun and you have a gun on you, it's an automatic 10 years without parole. If you fire that gun, it's an automatic 20 years. If you hurt somebody with that gun, it's an automatic life.

Griffith: Senator.

Hatch: I think that'd set a rule that people'd have to abide by.

Griffith: Thank you, Senator, very much. [applause]

Our next question is for Ambassador Keyes. Go ahead.

Q: Susan Chacho, from New London, New Hampshire. And in the recent years, NASA and other space endeavors have experienced millions, if not billion dollar disasters. Do you think that the taxpayers should continue to fund these programs? Or shouldn't it move to the private sector?

Keyes: Thank you very much for your question.

Actually I believe they should continue to fund these programs. I think we have to remember -- and even when we look back at the heritage of the country. When we opened up our frontiers, the Lewis and Clarke expeditions and so forth and so on, those were not privately-funded matters.

A matter of fact, it was considered by our founders to be one of the important functions of government: to explore this great continent, to produce the maps that would be necessary so that folks could then move in and exploit the resources and opportunities that were there for our people.

We have a vast frontier sitting on our doorstep in space which we have developed the technology to make use of. And I think, not only for the sake of this country but for the sake of humanity, we need to follow in the inspiring and visionary footsteps of our founding fathers. And we should, as a community, sustain our commitment to make sure we are able to develop and make use of that great frontier; for the sake of humanity, not just for our own sake.

I also think, by the way, that that has a spiritual component which we may be losing sight of, because, as a people, as a race, we need continually to have before us the truth that our potential is best realized when we are challenging ourselves to reach for those things that transcend our every day needs and desires and passions, and commit us to the kind of endeavors that have importance, not only for us, but for future generations.

I think space exploration is one of those and I would support it strongly.

Woodruff: Thank you, Ambassador Keyes. [applause] Our next question for Gary Bauer.

Q: My name is Laurel Lambert. I live in Lebanon, New Hampshire. I'm a fourth-year surgical resident at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and my question has two parts. As you know, there's growing concern that the control of health care is shifting from physicians to the bureaucrats of insurance companies and HMOs. Yet, despite this loss of control, physicians still bear the burden of liability for the care they're allowed to provide.

My first question is, do you think that HMOs should share this burden of liability? And my second question is, how would you proposed to rectify this imbalance between the control of and responsibility for providing health care?

Bauer: Well, it's a great question. I really agree with you on this. I have to tell you I was very troubled when the leadership of my party in the Congress got themselves into the box of taking the position that average Americans shouldn't have the right to sue and HMO if it provided inappropriate medical treatment.

Now, I'm against big bureaucracy in Washington making health care decisions. I just have an aversion to bureaucrats. But it's not just government bureaucrats. I don't like HMO bureaucrats and insurance company bureaucrats either. And I think we need to level the playing field.

My mother is 76-years-old and she lives back in Newport, Kentucky. She's already had one heart attack. And so I call her everyday to check on her.

And I can tell you one of her great frustrations is dealing with the American health care system.

She doesn't feel like she has any real leverage. She's confused by all the paperwork.

We need to make real reforms: medical savings accounts, allowing deductibility for insurance payments. Big companies can do that now; individuals can't.

There are many things that we can do and we need to do them now before we have a system where bureaucracy is making all of the decisions in health care: accountants making decisions instead of doctors.

I'll be unveiling a health care plan soon that will reflect those principles. I think that it will be a big step forward and I hope my party will get on the right side of being with the average American instead of with the big HMOs.

Griffith: Thank you, Mr. Bauer, very much. [applause] Our next question is for Mr. Forbes.

Q: Good evening. My name is Terry Grigsby. I live in Lebanon.

My question for you, Mr. Forbes, is if you become our next president, what specifically will you do to eliminate United States citizens from feeling that they need to travel to Canada and Mexico to purchase their prescription drugs because the costs are absolutely exorbitant?

Forbes: Thank you, Terry.

And this gets, again, to the question that Gary just dealt with on health care. The problem with health care in America is not that we want more health care. As you get older, longevity's not such a bad thing in your eyes, and yet, you hear these experts talk that the problem is that we want more health care. In a true free society that demand should be an opportunity. And I've put forth specific proposals to do just that, putting you in charge, whether it's on Medicare where if you work for the federal government, you have your have choice of hundreds of different health care plans. You, as a Medicare recipient, should have that kind of choice. If you need prescription insurance, you should have that choice at an affordable cost, and it is doable. And removing the barriers to medical savings accounts, that is necessary to put you charge of health care resources.

As a CEO of a company, we did that eight years ago. Each year we give our people $1,500 for routine medical expenses; what you don't use, you get to keep.

If it's more than $1,500, you have a deductible based on your salary, and then the regular catastrophic insurance kicks in.

But what this means is you are in charge. If you want an HMO, you can. If you want fee-for-service, you can. And as a result of empowering individuals, our health care expenses per person today are less or just the same as they were eight years ago and no one is forced into managed care.

Woodruff: Thank you, Mr. Forbes.

Forbes: It's doable.

Woodruff: Thank you.

Forbes: Consumerism works.

Woodruff: Thank you, Mr. Forbes. [applause]

Next question directed to Senator McCain. And please tell us your name and where you're from.

Q: My name's Tod Handy and I live down the street here in Hanover.

Senator McCain, the health-care costs of alcohol abuse in our country are staggering. In contrast, we have a number of health-care professionals, a growing number, agreeing that medical marijuana has legitimate medicinal value. Nevertheless, alcohol is illegal -- excuse me, legal, marijuana is illegal.

If you support medical marijuana, what would you do to expedite its legalization? And if you're against medical marijuana, given that both alcohol and marijuana equally classify as gateway drugs, how do you reconcile the tolerance for alcohol with the intolerance for marijuana?

McCain: Thank you. That is an excellent question...[laughter]...that I would prefer to duck. But...[laughter]... when I was in Keene, at Keene College not long ago, at the Q&As which I have -- speak very briefly, which is uncharacteristic of a senator, and answered questions, a young woman said to me: Senator McCain, what do you think about industrial hemp? And being an old Navy person, I thought it was a great thing for making ropes and lines as we do in the Navy. [laughter]

I found out that the question was more along the lines of your question, and that industrial hemp is used for different purposes than making lines.

In fact, it is used to -- for inhalation purposes. [laughter]

Look, I can't support the legalization of marijuana. Clearly, scientific evidence indicates that the moment that it enters your body, one it does damage and second it can become addictive. And as you say, it is a gateway drug.

There is a problem in America with alcohol abuse and there's no doubt about that. We have to do whatever we can; prevention, education. And that applies to drugs, too.

My friends, we're losing the war on drugs. We ought to say, it's not a war anymore or we really ought to go after it. And there was a time in our history when we weren't always losing the war on drugs. It was when Nancy Reagan had a very simple program called Just Say No. And young Americans were reducing the usage of drugs in America.

So I can't agree with your thesis. But I also agree with you that there is an alcohol abuse problem in America.

I've got a couple of seconds, I want to add to what Gary said. Why is it that we can't come up with a decent patients' bill of rights? The Democrats are gridlocked by special interests of the trial lawyers, the Republicans by the insurance companies and special interests. Until we reform this campaign finance system, we're not going to reach a conclusion.

Griffith: Senator. Thank you very much, Senator.

Our next question is for Ambassador Keyes. Will you please state your name and your home town for us please?

Q: Hi. I'm Linda Wesney, and I'm from Claremont. And my question is for Ambassador Keyes.

Elizabeth Dole says that drugs aren't cool, they kill. How do you plan to continue with the war on drugs?

Keyes: It seems to me the first thing that we should understand is that we're not dealing with a material problem.

We're dealing with a moral problem.

When I was born in 1950, we didn't have a huge plethora of laws dealing with all kinds of drug use and abuse, and yet we also did not have an enormous drug problem in this country.

The reason that we proliferated the laws is because the fundamental discipline that was prevailing in our society when I was born has broken down. And I think sometimes we get all caught up in discussing what steps we will take to deal with the consequences of this problem, we don't want to deal with the problem. And the problem is very simple; you can't sustain self-government without self- discipline. And the drug problem is a symptom of that.

We proliferate laws. We even have started to invade property rights and do other things that are tearing down our system of liberty. Why? Because we are out of control. Because we are a people who do not understand that if you enslave yourself to chemicals, you can not be free.

And I think that the obvious solution is the one that stares us in the face but we don't want to implement it because it requires that we look at the truth about our situation. We don't have a drug problem, an economic problem or any of these other problems, only that we say we have.

We have a moral crisis. We have a crisis that goes to the heart of the question of whether or not we're a people that still acknowledges that there is a difference between right and wrong which we must pass on to our children and enforce, even if it means that we, ourselves, must accept inconvenience.

Woodruff: Thank you.

Keyes: When we face that reality, then we will have solved the problem.

Woodruff: Thank you, Mr. Keyes. [applause]

The next question for Senator Hatch. Please tell us your name.

Q: My name is Jim Belanger from Lebanon. And Senator, my question for you is, would you support and fight to give the uninsured American access to the same health care policy that you as an elected official has?

Hatch: Well, Jim, that's a real good question. I spent 23 years enacting health care legislation that has really benefited a lot of people, everything from creating the modern generic drug industry that has cut pharmaceutical costs in half so that our senior citizens don't have to go out and give up food in order to buy their pharmaceuticals, to home health care, to saving the nursing homes and other institutions that we have got to have, just in the latest Finance Committee matters that we have been doing. And of course, I have got to tell you that I have spent most of my career trying to solve health care problems.

Now, I found two years ago -- actually, I knew it before then -- that 10 million children in our society of the poorest of the poor families not on Medicaid, meaning the working poor, did not have adequate health care. They were the only people fully left out of our health care system.

So we fought day in-day out until we passed the Hatch-CHIP -- CHIP -- bill, the Child Health Insurance Program, that now provides full coverage for 7 to 10 million children. I didn't have -- I only had one governor who supported me during that whole time and very few people in Congress.

When it was finally passed, today, every governor claims that's his or her bill.

Now I'm not just talking about it; I've done it.

And I've been there and I will do it again.

Griffith: Senator, thank you very much. [applause]

The next question is for Mr. Forbes. Give us your name and home town sir, please.

Q: I am Steve Swain and I am from West Lebanon.

Mr. Forbes, will you hire qualified men and women to work on your campaign and in your administration who are openly gay? Or will you ban and/or fire such people simply because they are openly gay?

Forbes: I will hire people who are qualified for the job, people who can do the work at hand, people who are there to get something done, not to make a political statement about a lifestyle. That's incidental.

And so if a person wants a job to make a statement, they're not going to get it. If a person wants a job because they're qualified and have the same principles, the same philosophy, they will be actively considered for it.

And in my campaign again, I believe in equal rights for all, special rights for none.

The chairman of my campaign, Ken Blackwell, is one of the highest elected African-American officials in America. He joined my campaign because of my belief in the new birth of freedom, whether it's getting rid of the IRS as we know it, lowering -- genuinely -- taxes on people, putting patients in charge of health care, allowing younger people to have a new Social Security system where their taxes are invested in their own account, out of the grasping hands of Washington, whether it's allowing you to chose your own doctor: all ties together this new birth of freedom. The freedom to be born -- it all ties together.

And those who share that philosophy are welcome aboard. Those who don't share it, I'm going to work hard to persuade you of it, because, ultimately, it reflects the best in America.

These are the principles that have made us great. These are the principles that can make us great again.

Woodruff: Thank you, Mr. Forbes.

Forbes: Thank you very much.

Woodruff: Our next question for Gary Bauer.

Q: My name is Bench Furgo. I live right here in Hanover.

The United States is a nation of immigrants, so I wanted to hear some thoughts from you regarding immigration policy. I would like to know whether you would want to change the immigration quotas -- increase them, decrease them, leave them the same. What do you think should be the criteria in terms of selecting potential immigrants? And, finally, what should we do about the millions of undocumented illegal immigrants in this country who are working, paying taxes, living here?

Bauer: Well, I believe that our immigration policy is a mess. And I think back at my time in Newport, Kentucky, when I was growing up. It was a tough blue-collar town. And I remember in elementary school, we would all stand in line to get milk. And then the school bully would come along and get in the front of the line, and nobody could do anything about it because he was bigger than anybody else.

Well, we have millions of people around the world that are standing in line to get into the United States. They see it as that shining city on a hill that the founding fathers talked about and that Ronald Reagan reminded us of all the time.

They're playing by the rules. They're abiding by the law. And we allow countless people to butt into the front of the line, to pour across our borders and have as their first act as entering our country the violation of our laws.

We must secure our border. A great nation should not have borders that are unsecured. And I believe if we do that, then we can make a judgment as a people what the appropriate legal immigration levels ought to be.

I would mention another important item here that I think will help solve the immigration debate, and that is this idea that everybody coming into the country should want to become an American. They should want to learn the English language. They should want to know our traditions. We need to make a new effort as a nation to teach everyone, native-born and immigrant, the great values of America and our founding principle in the Declaration of Independence: All men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Griffith: Mr. Bauer, thank you very much. [applause]

Our next question is for Ambassador Keyes. Would you state your name and your home town, please.

Q: Yes, my name is Carrie DeCato and I'm from West Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Good evening, Mr. Keyes.

My question is, do you support funding for national community service programs, such as AmeriCorps? Why or why not?

Keyes: I am a great believer in volunteerism in this country, but I think it's time we understood that it ought to be just that. The business of helping one another is a business that ought to be centered in the private sector, in the faith sector in this country.

I think government's involvement has been detrimental, they have botched it up. They have botched up the welfare program, because when you enter the business of helping folks and you deal with them in such a way that you separate from their moral being -- that, to put it frankly, you help them without the sermon -- I think you do them something that's detrimental.

And therefore, my goal with all of these efforts in which we are aiming to achieve mutual help for one another, is to put them back in the hands of the private and faith sector in this country. But of course you can't do that, can you, if the government continues to sit on all the money that's needed to fund those programs?

So I think that one of the first things we will have to do is revamp the entire tax system.

And unlike some of the folks here, I don't think it's going to be enough to lessen the load that people have and keep them running down the track with that sack on their back. I think what we need to do is take the sack off your back. I think we need to get rid of the socialist income tax in this country and return to the original Constitution. The Constitution that funded the federal government with tariffs, duties and excise taxes and that left, therefore, to the people the decision of what they would do with every dollar they earn.

And I think then, they can make the choice. Are they going to spend it? Are they going to save it? Or are they going to devote it to putting together the kind of faith-based and charity-based institutions through which we reach out to one another and help one another? I think that's what needs to be done.

Woodruff: Thank you.

Keyes: Put it back in the hands of the people themselves.

Woodruff: Thank you.

Our next question for Senator Hatch. Tell us your name, please.

Q: My name is Dave Chaffey. I'm from Etna, New Hampshire, and a member of the family that's operated an independent book store on Main Street in Hanover for more than 100 years.

You've had a long and distinguished career in the Senate, Senator Hatch. And I'd like to know from your perspective, what is the best policy, and I'm talking about domestic policy, you feel America has embarked on now and why?

And what would you do to keep it rolling and why? And on the other hand, what is the worse policy, in your opinion, and why? And what would you do to put us back on track?

Hatch: Well, that's a hard question. I'll tell you these questions have really been great. I'm not kidding.

But I would say the best policy that I've seen -- you know, I came up here and campaigned for Ronald Reagan in 1980. I've been tremendously impressed with the way people in this state take politics seriously.

And I've got to tell you, Reagan brought about a revolution, it was really an important one, because he reduced marginal tax rates from 70 percent down to 28 percent by 1986; that's what's been driving this economy every since. This president has taken credit for it, but literally that's what's doing it. Plus the fight for the balanced budget amendment which I lead for six or seven times since then. Plus the appointment of Alan Greenspan, who has done a terrific jog. I'll give this president some credit too, but plus the first time in 30 years you had a Republican Congress who supports a balanced budget on the American people.

And let me just say this, the president deserves some credit too because he appointed Robert Rubin, who, I think, did a tremendous job and he's been more pragmatic than other Democrats so we can, at least, manipulate him into doing what's right occasionally. At least that's what we're trying to do.

I think the worst thing that I've seen in public policy in many years -- it's hard to say because there have been a lot of worse things -- but one of the worst things I've seen is the way some of our federal judges have become activists on the bench; they have usurped the powers of the other two branches of government and have started to become super-legislators on the bench in black robes. And they have violated the real role of judging which is to interpret the laws, not make the laws and...

Griffith: Thank you very much. I don't mean to interrupt, but thank you. [applause]

Our next question is for Senator McCain. Sir, will you state your name and your home town for us, please?

Q: My name is Hershner Cross, and I live in Hanover.

Senator McCain, you have been a very articulate advocate for rebuilding the armed forces. My question is, in the light of the failing system that we have at the present time, is your idea for rebuilding the armed forces doable without resorting to some form of draft in peacetime?

McCain: I believe we can. There's no doubt that our new military requires a great deal of training, a great deal of expertise, and the technological skills that frankly don't lend themselves to a short-term draft.

And I believe that the all-volunteer force has not failed. I believe our government and Congress have failed the all-volunteer force.

We won Operation Desert Storm -- one of the great successes in military history -- with an all-volunteer force. What's happened since? The president and the Congress have allowed the military to deteriorate to such an alarming degree that it's almost obscene.

I identified $6. -- in response to the lady, who I think is now gone...[laughter]...I identified $6.4 billion worth of waste, worth of projects we don't need or want. It is -- as I said, it's enraging.

People say that perhaps John McCain gets angry. My friends, I get angry when we spend $350 million on a carrier the Navy doesn't want or need.

Five hundred and some million on an airplane or C-130 that the Air Force has said for years they don't need. And meanwhile, my dear friends, we have 12,000 enlisted families -- brave young men and women -- on food stamps.

That's a disgrace. That's an outrage. I'm going to fix it as president of the United States, and I promise those men and women in the military that's my first priority.

And I want to tell you that when we have...

Woodruff: [off-mike]

McCain: OK, thank you. [applause]

Woodruff: There was another very good question that was submitted tonight. The person who submitted it could not be here. But we want it to be asked, so we are going to take the liberty of asking a question about taxes. And we're going to pose it to all of you and give each one of you an opportunity.

The question has to do with tax reform, the tax overhaul that has been proposed, the so-called "flat tax." We want to ask each of you do you favor a flat tax. If so, at exactly what rate. And I'm going to begin on the left with Senator Hatch.

Hatch: Well, naturally, I favor throwing out the current system and getting rid of this awful IRS code. In fact, if I had my way we would get rid of the IRS and come up with the most fair, simple, decent, honorable system that we can have. And if I'm president of the United States, I will get the best actuarially sound accountants, attorneys and everybody else who are tax experts to sit down and show us how to do it: because a flat tax, the thing I worry about -- and I'm for it. I'd be happy to have any change that would simplify this code, that would give people a chance to be able to save more of their money, that would basically be stimulative to our economy.

But I'll tell you something, I worry about a flat tax, because I'm on the Senate Finance Committee. And I can tell you, we spend a lot of time just figuring out where all these little things go. And it's just a natural propensity in Congress to see us add more and more to that tax code until we satisfy just about every citizen in America. And it's killing our country.

So I would like to get rid of this system. I'd like to start over. And I think it's going to take guts to do it.

And if you elect me as president, I'm going to be a common-sense conservative who'll get that done. It's one of the things I'll do, I promise you.

Griffith: Senator Hatch, thank you very much. [applause]

I don't think any of our candidates are having any problems addressing this issue.

Senator McCain, you're next.

McCain: Sure, I'm for a flat tax. I'm for a tax system where average Americans can fill out their tax return on a postcard and send it in and not have the fear of an audit.

But my dear friends, do you know why the tax code is 44,000 pages long? Do you know why it's a nightmare, a chamber of horrors for average citizens and a cornucopia of good deals for the special interests?

Do you know when we just passed the last tax bill through the Congress, Republican-sponsored, it had tax breaks for the special interests like a company, a corporation in Delaware that turns chicken litter into energy, and those tax cuts would have taken place immediately while the marriage penalty repeal, where young Americans are being penalized for getting married tax-wise? It's because of the special interests. It's because of the special interests.

The special interests rule in Washington. The big money, the huge six- and seven-figure contributions that come in: that every time we pass a tax bill we add another special loophole and a special deal for the special interests.

I'm for reform. I'm for reform of education, reform of the military, reform of the tax code.

My dear friends, that's not possible. That's not possible when average Americans are no longer represented in Washington, D.C.

And I will fight to the last breath I draw to eliminate the influence of special interests in the tax code and every other part of America. And I will not rest until I give the government back to you.

Thank you. [applause]

Griffith: Ambassador Keyes. [applause]

Keyes: You know, a lot of the great philosophers said that liberty is one of those things that once you lose it, you don't even know what you have lost. Whenever I see people talking about this tax [inaudible] I think of that, because as Americans, we have basically lost our economic freedom and we don't even know it.

The income tax is a form of taxation that was advocated by Marx and Lenin because it cedes, in principle, to the government control of every last dollar that is made or earned in the economy. Think about it. Now, if I make a deal with you that I'm going to give to you a certain percentage of my income and you get to determine the percentage, how much of my money do you control in principle? How much? Answer it. All of it, every last cent of it.

And when folks stand up in Congress and start talking like all our money belongs to them, it's because, in principle, as long as we have the income tax, it does belong to them. And this country was not founded with an income tax.

The Founders put in the Constitution provisions that made an income tax unconstitutional: a direct tax on our people -- government dipping directly into our pocket to spend our money before we get a chance to say anything about it.

The issue isn't the tax rate, and the issue isn't whether it's flat or progressive. The issue is the income tax itself.

I am an abolitionist. It shouldn't surprise you. [laughter]

I think -- I think that just as we've had to get rid of chattel slavery in the last century, we need to get rid of tax slavery at the end of the 20th century, so our children in the 21st will have control of every last dollar they earn. And the government won't get a say in what is done with that money until after they deal with it. And then, in the open marketplace, you put a sales tax on transactions in that marketplace.

Griffith: Ambassador Keyes, thank you very much. [applause]

Mr. Bauer.

Bauer: Judy, I think you need to be honest with us. That questioner that couldn't be here tonight, that wasn't Governor Bush that asked this question? [laughter]

Because that would not be fair.

Woodruff: No, it wasn't. It was a voter.

Bauer: Well, this is a very, very important -- very important question. There are two of us here tonight that have put flat-tax proposals on the table. And I think as always, the devil is in the details.

If you're going to have a flat tax, what you describe as income become all-important. And how you see America's wealth being created is all-important.

I grew up in a home where my father was a janitor. I'm used to having bills last till Friday when the paycheck only lasted until Thursday. And so my flat-tax proposal recognizes that the real wealth of America is in our families. I have a 16-percent across-the-board rate. You would be able to keep your mortgage deduction and your charitable deduction, and everyone would pay the 16 percent -- the waitress and the corporation.

Now, Steve has a plan that he'll elaborate on, but Steve has a major new write-off in his plan for big business. He allows the big corporations to write off the entire cost of their investments in the year that they make them.

That means that a lot of corporations will pay zero while you're paying 25 percent between the income tax and the payroll tax.

I also have a 20 percent payroll tax cut. So my plan is fairer for families. It's across the board. And I think it's the way the Republican Party has to go if we want to win the White House back.

Griffith: Mr. Bauer, thank you very much. Now an opportunity for you, Mr. Forbes, to respond.

Forbes: Well, this is a delightful evening, because when I ran -- when I ran four years ago, virtually every Republican denounced the idea of a flat tax. So education works. Some are slower than others, but they're coming along. [laughter]

And my plan is very simple. And Gary, you're wrong, you should read the "Union Leader." They had an article on my plan and they got it right. And basically, I give generous deductions and exemptions to each adult and each child. A family of four, such as the Daley family in Exeter, New Hampshire, their first $41,000 of income is free of federal income tax.

That family told me when they did the arithmetic that they'd save enough money from my flat tax to be able to afford health insurance for their family. Real help for real people. Real tax cuts for real people.

Above the 41,000 level for the Daley family, only 17 cents on the dollar above 41,000. No tax on pensions. No tax on capital gains. And no death taxes. You'll be allowed to leave the world unmolested by the IRS. [laughter]

Sort of a new principle of taxation: no taxation without respiration.

And as a businessman -- as a businessman, I have incentives for investment.

If you tell a farmer, you can't recover the cost of your tractor, you ruin him. You tell a restaurant owner, they can't recover the cost of the equipment, you ruin him.

Griffith: Mr. Forbes, Mr. Forbes.

Forbes: I provide for jobs. I provide a tax break for all, and I'm glad they're coming onboard.

Griffith: Mr. Forbes, thank you very much. [applause] Let's now go -- let's go back to our studio audience for another question. Sir, will you please state your name? Give us your home town and then address your question. I believe it's for Ambassador Keyes.

Q: That's right. My name is David Coconas. I live here in Hanover. And my question is for Ambassador Keyes.

Currently, the United States has about $1 billion in overdue membership dues to the United Nations. This delinquency is threatening our seat on the Security Council and also damaging our credibility with the international community. So my question is: Do you think the reasons for our withholding payment area valid and, if not, what would you do as president to ensure that the bill gets paid?

Keyes: Thank you for that question. Actually, I do think they're valid and if you want to blame somebody, among others, for that billion-dollar deficit, you can blame me. I'll take the blame, because I was one of those people in the Reagan administration who helped to put together -- foster the policy that withheld our contributions from the United Nations, because it is an organization that takes our money, tosses it down the rat hole of United Nations waste, reaches into the pockets of the working people of this country in order to put our money into the pockets of the rich people in developing countries.

So, no, I feel no conscience whatsoever about the fact, that in order to try to get the United Nations to reform its dreadful practices, reform its opposition to the free enterprise approaches that could actually help countries around the world to develop, we withheld those dollars and I'd continue to withhold them today because the organization has not responded. It has not reformed. And I think until it does, we ought to stand firm in our position that we won't take the hard-earned money of the American people and toss it away to international bureaucrats who are basically interested in doing nothing but maintaining their own comfort and security. Sorry about that.

Woodruff: Thank you. [applause] Thank you, Mr. Keyes.

The next question for Gary Bauer from this side of the theater. Go ahead.

Q: Hi. My name's Bill Murphy. I'm from Lime, New Hampshire and I'd like to address this question to you Mr. Bauer.

To what extent do we serve the college-age people of America by leaving them at graduation with thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, in debt? Isn't there a better way of funding higher education?

Bauer: Well, the higher education -- did that hit a nerve here? [applause]

The higher education programs are extremely important. I'm a conservative and I want the federal role in education to be much less than it is now, because I think local and state communities will do much better running schools. But I'm not going to be a hypocrite about it. I used loans and grants to get through college myself and law school, and where I grew up people wouldn't have been able to go to school if it weren't for those loans and grants.

But I think there has to be a basic honesty here about this.

If we put out a loan program and tell the American taxpayer it is a loan program, then when students borrow that money they have to be held responsible for paying it back.

And quite frankly, I think to the extent that students are driven by that to a work ethic, needing to balance the things that we always have to balance in life -- I had to do that when I was in school -- I think it's actually part of the educational process.

Getting a higher education in America is a ticket to great things later. And I think everybody that does it has to be willing to make some sacrifices.

It would be easy for me in this audience to say, you know what, I want to turn all those loans to grants and everything will be OK. But you've had politicians doing that to you for the last 30 years. In fact, I heard two guys last night spend the surplus over five different times. [laughter]

And so I'm not going to lie to you. I think a mixture of loans and grants are the appropriate way to go. We need to keep the interest rate low on those loans. But I think most students will find that package to be a good package.

Griffith: Thank you, Mr. Bauer, very much. [applause]

Let's go over to this side of the auditorium. Our next question is for Senator McCain.

Can you give us your name and your home town please?

Q: My name is Jeanette Galiametti, and I'm from Hanover.

We all talk about the importance of education. Shortly in our country we'll lose over 2 million teachers to retirement. How can we attract the best and the brightest teachers given the current salaries?

McCain: Thank you for that question.

It is probably the -- and we've answered several questions surrounding it -- it's probably the pressing issue that faces America as we want to fully exploit the potential of this information technology revolution that we're going through.

We simply don't have the teachers, nor do we have the educated people to fulfill this incredible potential that is changing America in the world. And I'm pleased that America leads.

Look, may I propound one simple proposition? I don't see why a good teacher should be paid less money than a bad senator. [laughter]

I think that it's important -- I think that it's important that we have merit pay for teachers, that we have teacher testing, that we do everything we can to motivate young men and women to enter this profession.

As we all know, there's a whole generation that's retiring. It is unconscionable that the average salary of a lawyer is $79,000 a year and the average salary of a teacher is $39,000. And I promised not to tell a single lawyer joke.

But the fact is that we have to have choice and competition in our schools in order to improve our school system, including charter schools, including a test-voucher program that would be paid for with ethanol subsidies, which I would hope my friends would join in -- the gas and oil subsidies -- and with sugar subsidies. And in order to make that system work, a test-voucher program throughout America.

We have to have good teachers, and I would argue that merit pay, rewards for good teachers and helping bad teachers find another line of work is the way we must go about it.

And the really, the...

Woodruff: Senator, McCain...

McCain:.... future of our kids rests upon it. Thank you for the question.

Woodruff: Thank you. [applause]

The next question from this side of the theater for Steve Forbes.

Q: My name is Patricia Higgins. I am from Hanover, New Hampshire.

Amid all the sort of hoopla of being the first in the nation, for voting in the primary, we do take our voting very seriously.

And yet, what we're watching is, sort of, a nomination process that reminds me more of an auction where the nomination goes to the highest bidder. I'd really like to be able to ask this to the candidate who's not here, but I can't do that.

Mr. Forbes, as nominee of the Republican Party or as president, what would you do to keep the future nominations from being bought?

Forbes: Thank you very much for your question, which really gets not only to the process but to how we finance the process.

And like you, I share the frustration that Governor Bush is not here tonight. He didn't come to a debate last week because he had a fund-raiser. A couple of weeks ago, his plane got delayed. He had a choice between a fund-raiser and going to a school in Rhode Island with underprivileged kids; he chose the fund-raiser. So perhaps in the future at a forum like this, if we call it a fund-raiser, he might show up. [laughter]

But seriously -- seriously -- to get to your question, I believe that, on the funding side, we should have a system in America where individuals can give as much as they want to a candidate as long as there's full and prompt disclosure. The establishment loves these current rules because, unless you're blessed like me with independent resources, they have ways of shutting you out.

And all 67,000 lobbyists in Washington, they've all rallied around Governor Bush. They want a coronation, not a real contest. And that's fundamentally wrong.

But you have the power of your hands to say: No, this is not going to be a coronation. If you don't participate in forums like this, if you don't put specific proposals out, you're not going to get your support.

The lobbyists have made their choice. They're not backing me because I'm independent. I'm not beholden to special interests, not beholden to the lobbyists, not beholden to the establishment. I'm here to serve you and I vow to do that.

Thank you very much.

Griffith: Mr. Forbes, thank you. [applause]

The next question is for Senator Hatch. And it comes from this side of the theater. Give us your name and your hometown.

Q: My name is Ian Smith, and I'm from Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Senator Hatch, I'm a middle school social studies teacher. And I talk with my students about the importance of taking part in this democratic system and the role that money plays in the electoral process. Just recently, Elizabeth Dole left the party because apparently she could not financially compete. What would your administration do to address the concerns surrounding campaign finance reform?

Hatch: Well, thank you so much. I filed on July 1st. Some people thought it was too late. One of the media people said, aren't you a day late and dollar short? I said, no, I'm two years late and $36 million short.

Then I told him what I was doing. I think if people want to talk about campaign finance reform, then they ought to live their own rules. They ought to set an example. They ought to show us how to do it. They ought to live within the means of the common people, the everyday working person.

I was born not as a son of wealth. As a matter of fact, I worked as a janitor at one time to get through school, get through college. And I'm darn proud that I did. I learned a trade as a young man.

But I decided I wouldn't want to be president if I had to just rely on the fat-cat establishment out there giving me $1,000 donations. Now, I'm not going to turn any of those away, if you want to give them to me. [laughter]

So I decided what I'm going to do, I said if I get a million people to give me $36, I'll have as much money as George W. Bush and I'll win this dog-gone presidency for you and you'll have somebody who's beholden only to the people.

And oddly enough, I've been getting monies from Democrats, Republicans, independents saying: I want to be one of your million. And you can learn how to do it by looking at my web page; WarrenHatch.org. And you could learn how to become a Hatch Skinnycat. And if we do this, this is something that really would change the face of politics in this country; that somebody could get elected on $36 donations.

When was the last time a $36 donation elected a president of the United States? Well, I'm asking all of you to help.

Woodruff: Thank you. Senator Hatch, thank you. [applause]

That, unfortunately, concludes the question part of our format. We just have a little bit of time left. And, in that time, we'd like to give each candidate 20 seconds to sum up for the evening, and we're going to begin on the right this time with Steve Forbes.

Forbes: Well, than you very much and thank all of you for participating tonight.

The basis of my campaign comes from Abraham Lincoln's words in Gettysburg, "a new birth of freedom" -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. Whether it's the freedom to be born, freedom to choose your own schools for your children, freedom to choose your own doctor, freedom for young people to choose whether their Social Security money is invested, freedom to be safe and secure in this world, it all ties together. And I would beg you -- I ask for your support. Thank you.

Griffith: Thank you, Mr. Forbes.

Mr. Bauer?

Bauer: America is a great nation militarily, it's a great nation with wealth, but it also has a terrible virtue deficit. If we're going to be a shining city on a hill, the way the founders wanted us to be, we need to put our families back together, we need to make sure that every child has an adult that's crazy about him and we need to balance virtue and liberty.

And that's what my presidency will be dedicated to. Thank you.

Griffith: Mr. Bauer, thank you very much. [applause]

Mr. Keyes.

Keyes: After all these years of Bill Clinton, I think it's pretty clear this nation's in the worst moral crisis that it's ever faced. We must address that crisis as a matter of top priority or we're going to lose our liberty.

I believe that that is in fact the foremost -- indeed, the only -- challenge we face right now if we're going to survive.

Griffith: Thank you, Mr. Keyes. [applause]

Senator McCain.

McCain: I want to be president of the United States because I want to reform government. The only way you're going to do that is clean up this special interest ruling of our government through all of this huge amounts of money and donations.

Then, I want to inspire a generation of Americans to commit themselves to a cause greater than their self-interest. There are great causes in the world, where there are hungry children, where there's seniors without shelter, and where people are killing are people are killing each other because of ethnic and tribal hatreds.

Griffith: Thank you.

McCain: I can do that.

Griffith: Thank you, Mr. McCain. [applause]

Mr. Hatch.

Hatch: I want to be president because I have more experience than anybody running, including the two Democrats. I have a record of accomplishment that none of them can duplicate and I know how to get it done. And I know how to get people from diverse points of views to come together and get things done.

Last but not least, I think who picks the next 50 percent of the court plus five judges -- plus five Supreme Court nominees...

Griffith: Thank...

Hatch:... is going to be very important.

Griffith: Thank you, Mr. Hatch.

Hatch: That's the most important issue in this campaign. [applause]

Griffith: We are out of time tonight.

Woodruff: That's it.

Griffith: Want to thank you.

Woodruff: That's it. Thanks to Dartmouth and to all of you. [applause]


APP Acknowledgement: Debate transcript source provided by David Casalaspi.
Citation: Presidential Candidates Debates: "Republican Presidential Candidates Town Hall at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire," October 28, 1999. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=105435.
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