empty podium for debate

Republican Presidential Candidates Forum in Durham, New Hampshire

October 22, 1999

COKIE ROBERTS: Good evening. We're here tonight in the studios of New Hampshire Public Television. Joining us are five Republican candidates--and one who is not. They are Gary Bauer, Senator Orrin Hatch, Steve Forbes, John McCain and Alan Keyes. Tonight's forum will be divided into the following three categories: first the economy and health care, then foreign affairs, finally social issues and education. And the candidates have chosen their seating order and each question that begins by a draw--who begins each section by a draw.

So we'll start with the guy who drew the short stick, Gary Bauer, on the economy. You gentlemen are here in New Hampshire at a time that's not only beautiful physically, but it's quite happy economically. Eight years ago that was not the case here. It was in terrible shape, banks were closed, people were losing high tech jobs. Now things are very good here. Why would voters want to change?

GARY BAUER: Well, Cokie there are economic cycles obviously, and you know things go up and down. I think what people need to look at is what we're going to do for the long term. What are our tax policies going to be and what are we going to do about issues like Social Security--it of course has a big effect on the economy.

Cokie as you know I grew up in a blue collar town where my father's paycheck lasted 'til Thursday but the bills lasted 'til Friday. And I think the way you grew up sort of forms your economic views. I've got a flat tax proposal that I think people in New Hampshire are going to like. It's 16 percent across the board. It's the lowest rate. It doesn't allow big corporations to get away with paying zero as Steve Forbes' plan does in some cases.

I've also got a Social Security plan, Cokie, that is based on the idea that Social Security is a good program. Where I grew up the elderly would have been living in poverty if it weren't for Social Security; I want to preserve it. And so my plan pays those IOUs to our parents and grandparents, but it also allows younger workers to have a 20 percent tax cut that they can invest anywhere--not just in Wall Street as some would mandate that they do, but I would also let them use it for tutoring lessons or whatever.

I think what Americans are looking at is not what's happened economically in the past eight years; what are we going to do in the next eight or ten years. My flat tax that's family friendly, my Social Security reform is exactly I think what people are looking for in this state.

COKIE ROBERTS: Senator Hatch, why change?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Well I believe that we've got to have a commonsense conservative as president, one with experience, one who's been able to bring together diverse groups of people and get things done. Frankly if you look at it we've had unprecedented economic expansion over the last number of years; it's been primarily because Reagan cut marginal tax rates from 70 percent down to 28 percent by 1986. I was one of the handful who convinced him that that should be done.

In addition we of course are in relative peace, but the fact of the matter is we're paying wartime tax rates. They're too high. Our IRS is unfriendly. We ought to get rid of the Internal Revenue Code, and if I had my way I'd get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, and we'd come up with a new system that would be fair, decent and workable for the American people.

On health care, let me just say that I don't think anybody running for president this year has had the experience in health care that I've had. Just working on the Finance Committee this last week, we've been able to do an awful lot to solve and resolve health care problems. But to give you an illustration, in 1984 we passed a bill that basically created the modern generic drug industry and of course knocked the cost of drugs down by 50 percent so that senior citizens would not have to give up food in order to have their pharmaceuticals. That's the kind of thing we should do with commonsense conservatism and I can do that throughout the process.


STEVE FORBES: Thank you very much Cokie. As a businessman and CEO I know that just because conditions are good today, does not mean they're going to be that way tomorrow, and you have to start planning for the future right now. And just yesterday in New Hampshire with the Frink family in Manchester, I unveiled one of the most exciting, comprehensive economic policy proposals I think of modern times.

Under my plan, not only will there be substantial tax cuts, but in the next 10 years of this century wages will go up 60 percent. Also too I have a health care proposal that will put patients in charge of health care, not HMOs and certainly not government bureaucrats. On education I want to give parents a real choice so their children will have true economic opportunity as well. Under my proposal--and I'm delighted that others are seeing the virtue in my flat tax proposal--not only will families keep more of what they earn, we'll have simplicity, we will have more investment. We encourage investment, which is how you create the better paying jobs of tomorrow.

So it all ties together. Putting caps on government spending, slashing the national debt, allowing wages to go up, lowering taxes--that's the way to get America on the true path of prosperity and not let the train get off the track, which this administration, by not allowing tax cuts, is going to have happen.

COKIE ROBERTS: Senator McCain?

SENATOR JOHN McCAIN: There's a number of reasons why we are experiencing this almost unprecedented prosperity--among them are lack of regulation, free trade, and most importantly we are going through a revolution the likes of which the world has seldom seen. You could compare it to either the invention of the printing press or the Industrial Revolution. This information technology period that we're going through is incredible, it's exciting and it's wonderful to be an American and it's wonderful that America leads. That all is not necessarily permanent.

We have an opportunity now; we're wiring every school and library in America to the Internet. The kids on the Navajo reservation in Chemehuevi and Window Rock are going to have the same access to information and knowledge as the kids in Phoenix and Paradise Valley. This is a wonderful opportunity; we must make the most of it. It requires and education that's worthwhile; it requires good teachers; it requires choice and competition in education, and it also requires the equipment necessary for these young people to have this opportunity. The bad news is we are experiencing a growing gap between rich and poor in America--those who've taken part in this and those who can't. Here in New Hampshire the highest percentage in all of New England of high tech workers is here in New Hampshire. The people and the leaders of New Hampshire should be very proud of that fact, and I intend to make sure that this information technology reaches its fullest capability.


ALAN KEYES: Well I happen to think that the premise of the question is correct. On the basis of pure economic issues we are not going to persuade the American people to hand the White House from the Democrats to the Republicans. They never have done so without a good reason, and right now in the economic sphere we don't face a huge crisis; in the international sphere we don't face one.

I think we do face an enormous crisis. It's a moral crisis. We have been through the most shameless and humiliating period in our country's history and it has threatened the integrity of our most important institutions. On those grounds we absolutely need to change the hands that are now upon the White House and give them to folks who will have the kind of integrity that Democrats have not shown during this moral crisis.

But I also believe that based renewed moral self confidence we reclaim control of our money. Not by piddling tax cuts, not by plans that come from on high claiming that they're going to improve our economy. We need to get back control of our own money. And we'll get back control of our own money only when we get rid of the socialist structures that gave that control to government, beginning with the income tax itself. So I think that the key, the key to making sure we're able to take advantage of the enormous opportunities our technology is handing us is to get back control of our money by abolishing the income tax and returning to the original Constitution of our country, which funded the federal government with tariffs, duties and excise taxes, not a privacy-invading income tax and that's where I think we need to start.

COKIE ROBERTS: Well New Hampshire certainly seems to believe that way up until now; we'll see what today's vote in the Senate in New Hampshire means for that. You brought up the question of moral issues and we're talking about economics here, but the Conference of Catholic Bishops sent out this week a list of questions for all voters to ask their candidates. And since I'm a good Catholic girl and I have candidates in front of me, I'll ask at least a few of the bishops' questions as they go through these categories. And one of them, when it comes to economics, is how will we overcome the scandal of a quarter of our pre-schoolers living in poverty in the richest nation on earth? Who wants to take it? Go ahead, and from here on out I expect you all to jump in and answer these questions.

GARY BAUER: Well you know Cokie I think one of the things we need to focus on is exactly why that many of our children are living in poverty. And quite frankly the reason for that in large measure is the breakdown of the American family. If you have an incredible number of out-of-wedlock births, which is what we've had now for a long, long time, I think you're going to inevitably condemn those women and children to poverty. So we can do things: we can have a safety net for the poor; we certainly need to figure out everything we can to help people enter the economic mainstream, but I think the suggestion that government can solve the problem in many cases is due to the personal decisions that people are making in their own lives is to go down the wrong road.

ALAN KEYES: I think it's a little unfair though to ascribe this just to personal decisions. Government helped to create this problem.


ALAN KEYES: We had a welfare system that actually destroyed the family structure, drove the father out of the home, took away the incentives for work. And I think we need consciously to revamp that system so that it will put incentives behind marriage, behind the maintenance of a strong family structure, behind the presence of fathers in the home. We also need to understand, though, that at the end of the day helping people ought to be the business of the charity sector and the faith sector and the private sector. And that's why I think it's so critical. We need to get up off the money. Government doesn't need to be spending this money. Give it back to people themselves. Let them decide what to do with it so they can put it into channels that will actually strengthen their families, strengthen their church and faith institutions to meet the challenge of doing for one another what needs to be done.

STEVE FORBES: Well, absolutely right. And also too that's why--I know we're going to get to it--we do need genuine choice in education. With these kids, they need the best education possible. They're hurt the most by the schools that we have today. So it all ties together. If the kids don't get an education, they're going to be hurt as they try to climb out of poverty. That's why too we need to revamp the whole tax code. We start with the federal income tax, but there's a lot of other tax reform that has to be done as well. Under my tax proposal a family will pay no federal income tax--say a family of three or four--unless they make over $30-35,000 a year. I also have a Social Security proposal on the table where those taxes that are taken--if you have a single mother working she's paying a huge tax in Social Security. I think that money should go, instead of to the grasping hands of Washington, the bulk of that money, Cokie, should go to her own individual retirement account.

COKIE ROBERTS: I'll come to you, both of you Senators. It's remarkable, the Senators have not spoken. The families where both parents are working and the family's still poor and the kids are poor. Is minimum wage, raising the minimum wage the answer; what's the answer there?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Raising the minimum wage isn't the answer because what that does is that freezes out the people at the bottom level who are under-educated, under-trained, under-skilled. They don't have an opportunity, and it happens all the time; we lose 300- to 500,000 jobs every time. But you know what it comes down to. It comes down to example in many respects. That's why I've been talking about having a commonsense president who literally will set an example morally, from an integrity standpoint, doing the things that are right in our society, who really exalts family over a lot of these things in the world that are wrecking our families...

COKIE ROBERTS: Can you eat example, can you eat example, can you take example to the hospital and pay for it?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: I thing you start with example; somebody who's hardworking, someone who has had to make their own way. I had to work as a janitor to get through college once, and to be honest with you I think that's--I think we set an example and then we have to provide some means whereby people can get help.

COKIE ROBERTS: Senator McCain?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: There are 11 million of these children also who are without health care and that's a disgrace in America and we ought to change that and we ought to change it very quickly. But I also get back to education. Education in America has become a civil rights issue. The very wealthy in our society get the best education in the world; the very poor in our society obviously are getting the worst. The conditions in our schools are still deplorable. We need choice and competition in education. We need a national test voucher program in the poorest school districts in America. We can get the money for that by eliminating the sugar subsidies and the gas and oil subsidies and the ethanol subsidies--which are--ethanol subsidies are $700 million a year which goes to Archer Daniels Midland, and we also need to reward good teachers, we need merit pay for teachers--

COKIE ROBERTS: We're going to have a whole education section later--

ALAN KEYES: Before we get off on that, the whole premise of the question has to be questioned though. One, I think it is a mistake we have been making for thirty, forty years, that plays right into the hands of the socialist mentality that, unfortunately, dominates everybody in our politics. [Cokie Roberts attempted to reply by mentioning the bishops again.] Wait, wait. The Catholic bishops have gone down that left-wing road, Cokie, and don't tell me otherwise because I am a Catholic and I know it. And I get to criticize them when they are socialist, because socialism is not a requirement of our theology. As a matter of fact it goes against what the Pope has laid out as the best approach to economics.

But the point I want to make is this. The fundamental question we face is two-fold. Whether it is education or anything else, we know first of all that throwing money at the problem doesn't solve it, that the key to success in all these areas turns out to be the sort of thing, in fact, that Senator Hatch was pointing to. If by "example" you mean creating a moral environment in which there is going to be the decency and the discipline necessary for people to work together to pass on elements of their heritage.

My parents were poor, Cokie, and other parents in the black community were poor, for the longest time. That didn't make them depraved, and it didn't mean that they couldn't raise decent children who knew how to work hard and get out of that poverty. I think we have to be careful not to make money the criterion.

COKIE ROBERTS: We only have a few minutes left in this segment so let's do health care, and you can add what you want to add when you're talking about health care. I'm sure you will. And that is that we now do--you brought up the number of people who are not receiving health care--there is now some sense, in the same way that old people do get health care in this country, that maybe children should have the same kind of health care that old people are getting. Do you think that's right?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Well I think children do. The poor children have health care. Last year we passed the Hatch Child Health Insurance Program, which is the CHIP program. Didn't have one governor, except the governor of Vermont support me on it until it passed. Now every governor today claims its his or her bill. 'Cause that will take care of between 7 and 10 million children who are from the poorest of the poor working families. And that's what we have to do. We really have to come up with programs that really do work. On the other hand, they're not going to be any good unless we help our families to have incentives to be good families.

STEVE FORBES: And also too on health are, we're going down a path today, Cokie, that is putting health care decisions in the hands of HMOs, in the hands of bureaucracies. We've got to get it back in the hands of patients--


STEVE FORBES: --And there are various ways to do it. Because we're going to get a system today that is hostile to innovation, that prevents you from choosing the doctor you want and trust, and this is a country that's supposed to be free and that's wrong. The Washington top down approach won't work. Giving people control of those resources will.

COKIE ROBERTS: How--this is a frustration of people. The insurance companies are making their decisions...

GARY BAUER: ...It comes up every time I travel around--New Hampshire, Iowa--doesn't matter. Doesn't matter if the voter is a conservative or a liberal; everybody's worried about it. Steve that sounded real good, but you've got to go beyond the generalities of this. Look, let's get very specific.

We just had a big debate in Congress about whether average Americans ought to have the right to sue their HMO if that HMO denies them medical treatment that was appropriate. And I can't believe that there were some in my party that thought it was a wise move to come out against my 76-year old mother being able to deal with that HMO bureaucrat. I don't want Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton running health care, but I don't want bureaucrats and HMOs and insurance companies running health care either. I think we do need to have more choice; we need to have HMOs, we need to have reforms in Medicare, etcetera--

COKIE ROBERTS [others talking as well]: Let me. No. Senator McCain's turn.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Washington is gridlocked by special interests. Gary, why do you think it is that we couldn't give patients some fundamental rights? There was a movie a long time ago I saw called "As Good As It Gets." One of the characters said, "I think I ought to have the right to choose my own doctor." Everybody in the audience applauded.

The Democrats are in the grip of the trial lawyers who want everybody to sue everybody for anything. The Republicans are in the grip of the HMOs and the insurance companies and their huge--

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: I don't agree.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: --six- and seven-figure donations, which have kept us from coming together; which have kept us from coming up with a reasonable bill of rights which most doctors in America agree with and that we could come together. Instead we are gridlocked and we will not deal with it as long as the special interests rule in Washington over the public interest.

ALAN KEYES: I think that it is quite clear that the reason the Democrats favor this is that they want to unleash the trial lawyers on the existing health system in order to destroy it, so that they can step in and tell us that the government has to be the savior. If we can't see that coming, then we are awfully dumb.

I think that the premise that we need in our health care system is to make the individuals who are receiving that health care once again into empowered consumers, who will actually be able to police the relationship between price and value instead of turning that chore over to bureaucracies in the government or the insurance companies. And that is why we need voucherization. We need medical savings accounts. We need the things that will once again make those individuals empowered parties, who will be able to determine who their doctors are, whether they are getting the kind of service that they need, but who will be able to enforce that, then, by taking their dollars where they want to take those dollars.

COKIE ROBERTS: All right, you've had the last word on that subject, 'cause now we're moving on to the second category.

COKIE ROBERTS: Now we're moving on to the second category. The second category is foreign affairs, and Senator Hatch has drawn the lot for the first question on foreign affairs and again we will go around the group with each of you with a time limit on this first question only.

The president, President Clinton's national security adviser Samuel Berger, has been complaining about a neo-isolationism that he says is abroad in the land, particularly in the Republican Party. He points to an unwillingness to engage, the refusal to pay UN dues, the cuts in the foreign aid budget, that we've not funded the Middle East peace accords. Where do you stand on that Senator?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Well first of all I don't think that's at all true about the Republican Party. There are some like Pat Buchanan who do seem to be neo-isolationists, but certainly you've got Senator McCain here and myself--we've joined together with regard to a number of foreign policy issues through the years and we've been anything but that and I think the Republican Party, the party of putting together NAFTA, the expansion of NATO, you can go on and on.

The one thing I do believe is I believe that our president of the United States should run our foreign policy and not the United Nations. I think it's pretty doggone important that we do that. Secondly I think that it's important that we stand up for this country over the world and in our vital interests without being the policeman of the world. We should protect our vital interests and our critical interests. Vital interests are interests that literally mean an awful lot to this country. That includes this hemisphere, it includes the Middle East, Europe, Japan, just to mention a few; it includes Israel. And frankly--critical interests, a good critical interest would be something like Korea, where if the North Koreans came down into South Korea it could affect all of Southeast Asia and in particular our relationship with Japan. So it's a very important thing.

A lot of us have done an awful lot. I was a strong supporter of Ronald Reagan's doctrine, his foreign policy doctrine. I did a lot of work in Central America. I was the one who convinced Reagan we should use the Stinger--give the Stinger Pulse missile to the Afghanis, to the mujahideen, now called one of the [inaudible] reasons why the Cold War came down. And I could go through a lot of other things, everything from Israel to Europe to Kosovo.


STEVE FORBES: There's no neo-isolationism around. What is around is an administration, the Clinton-Gore White House, that is adrift, indecisive and just making plain bad judgments. For example in Panama, they've allowed the Chinese to get control on both ends of the Panama Canal and they've done nothing about it. They are promiscuous in putting our troops around the world without any thought as to what they're supposed to do there and how to get them out. You see it in Russia, where we are today subsidizing--by giving billions that these kleptocrats in the Kremlin steal--subsidizing a new system of serfdom in Russia. Four out of ten Russian workers now go unpaid. Not because of a shortage of money, but because these thieves in the Kremlin are stealing everything they can get their hands on, and this administration is doing nothing about it. You see it in China, where they're just in a whole mode of appeasement--no rules of engagement, anything goes. You see it with the International Monetary Fund and our Treasury Department, which is wrecking nations around the world with misbegotten advice and prescriptions such as higher taxes and devaluation.

So this administration blames--has a real burden of blame for what is happening around the world, and then to compound their felony they're running down our military, hollowing out our military and not giving our people the adequate means, adequate compensation to do the job that's necessary.

COKIE ROBERTS: Senator McCain.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: We've gone during the Cold War from a very, very dangerous, but a very predictable world to one that is much less predictable and slightly less dangerous because we no longer face the threat of massive nuclear exchange. But it's complicated, it's difficult, and it requires attention. This administration has conducted a feckless photo op foreign policy which may cost us in American blood and treasure in the next century. This administration has failed to understand that we have to have a concept of what we want the world to look like, where our threats and our interests and our values lie. If there's a problem, send troops to Haiti; if there's a problem send them to Somalia. Our military men and women are more overtaxed and more overworked and more deployed than at any time--peacetime period in the history of this country. Our men and women need help. Our men and women need their morale restored. They need the equipment and the housing and the pay that they deserve.

There are 12,000 enlisted families in America on food stamps. I'm going to change that. And I'm going to change it; and it's the Congress' fault as well as that of the president of the United States because of massive pork barrel spending that goes on and on. And I identified $6.4 billion worth of pork barrel spending on the last bill. That's a shame.


ALAN KEYES: I think that what we have to recognize is that when you live in a world where you have somebody in a high position like Strobe Talbott who tells us that the nation-state is going to be a thing of the past, and we should surrender to some global government, those of us who resist that idea are not isolationists. We're just defending the sovereignty and the Constitutional integrity of the United States. And I think it is essential right now. We should not follow the Clinton Administration in the surrender of American sovereignty.

And we should certainly not accept their betrayal. It's not just appeasement; it's treachery and in terms of handing off our secrets to the communist Chinese, and doing God knows what in exchange for their purchase of influence over our security policies, making decisions that have transferred our technology and the things that actually gave us the security edge into the hands of the country that is liable to be our strongest potential enemy in the course of the 21st century if we are not careful.

It is a huge error and we need to base our foreign policy on a clear sense of our national sovereignty, and our national interest, that puts the interests of the American people in first place, knowing that by doing so we are actually serving the best interests of the world.

We also need to understand, though what some of my colleagues here, I think, do not and that that translates into a policy on trade that is not willing to surrender the sovereignty of the American people to the World Trade Organization or any other international body, and that, again there, is willing to put the interests of our people first, by making it clear that if you want to come trade in the American emporium, you can help us bear the freight for keeping that emporium open. I think that's fair to the American worker.


GARY BAUER: Thanks, Cokie. You know, Cokie, I served Ronald Reagan for eight years and one of the things he taught me when I was at the White House with him is that America did have to be involved in the world, but we had to make sure that when we were involved we were involved defending our values, our concepts of liberty.

Reagan had to spend a lot of time rebuilding the American military because of the neglect of previous presidents, and I'm afraid the next president is going to have to do the same because of the neglect of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. We've gone from 18 Army divisions that we had at the end of the Reagan administration to 10; we had a 750-ship Navy; it's down to 325 ships.

And on top of the comments that were already made about soldiers on food stamps, which is a national tragedy, a national scandal, there's efforts underway to cut veteran's benefits. As president I'm not going to allow that. My father was a veteran. He served in the United States Marines, was in a Veteran's Hospital for several years. Those men kept their bargain; we're going to keep our bargain with them.

But there's another important way we need to be involved and that's American values. In Tiananmen Square, Chinese students stood up waving copies of our Declaration of Independence in the face of the People's Liberation Army. But we've got a policy toward China not driven by the Declaration and its words "All men are created equal," but driven by trade. Big corporations calling the shots in the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. As president I will end most favored nation status for China immediately. The days that they're playing us for suckers should be over.

COKIE ROBERTS: Well, let's talk about trade. Because trade is a big part of our economy; it's the fastest growing sector in the economy. Without this kind of trade we would be having the economy we're having. Is it a good idea or not?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: We would not, and the fact is we need to break down barriers to trade, for our agricultural products that's one of the best remedies for many of the agricultural problems we have in America today.

I want to go just back one second to the veterans. I just wrote a book and I've been on a book tour, a book-signing tour.

COKIE ROBERTS: You want to hold it up--

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Yeah I'll hold it up. "Faith of My Fathers," Random House, number three on the New York Times bestseller list.

I've had the most unusual and incredible experience. Veterans, particularly of World War II come, and they show me the pictures of themselves and their units and where they served. Some of them cry, some of them--it's a really emotional experience. And as Gary just said, they're not getting the health care we promised them. They're not getting the treatment that they promised them. They need long term and geriatric care. We need to work together with the VFW and DAV and the American Legion and provide them with what we promised them when the greatest generation went out to fight and defend democracy. We need to do that not only for them, but for future generations we may have to call upon.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH: I agree with everything Senator McCain said. I think that's very important. On the other hand, you know if we're going to have free trade, we've got to have fair trade. For instance, we're talking about opening up our southern borders to the south-of the-border states including Mexico to drive trucks into our country, where they haven't passed the same driver's license tests that we have, where their trucks aren't passing the same safety tests that ours do, and they're going to be driving on our roads transporting their goods. We've seen grain coming from Canada that's government subsidized grain that is in competition with the farmers in Montana, in the northern states, in Iowa, all over this country, and it isn't working very well. We've got to make sure that if we have trade it's fair trade just as well...

COKIE ROBERTS: What about, what about--

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: By the way I do differ with Gary. I do think that Gary is right on the human rights aspects of China, but we cannot help but engage China, and we have to do it on the basis of competition.

COKIE ROBERTS: What about joining the World Trade Organization? All right go ahead.

STEVE FORBES: ...should be no on the World Trade Organization on concessionary terms. What we need with China, Cokie, is real foreign policy. This administration clearly does not have one. The Chinese need to know what the rules of engagement are.

GARY BAUER: Steve, would you repeal most favored nation status for China or not?

STEVE FORBES: I'll give what my China policy is. And that is, one, you have to know we're going to keep a military presence in Asia. They're not going to run us out. They can't take over Taiwan. Number two, we will hit them on human rights abuses in every international forum possible. Dissidents in China will tell you how important that is. Three. We want openness with China. We want trade. Which means reducing trade barriers. And if the Chinese wish to sell technology to rogue states such as Pakistan or North Korea or Iran or Iraq we should put sanctions on specific Chinese companies run by the Chinese Army. That way the Chinese know if they make mistakes, if they do something wrong there will be consequences to pay.

COKIE ROBERTS: I'll let you get in here Mr. Keyes and then we'll move on.

ALAN KEYES: Two things are clear. One, I think we just need a clear answer to that very simple question. Most favored nation status for China sends a signal of business as usual to a bunch of dictators--

GARY BAUER: Sure it does.

ALAN KEYES: --who are brutalizing and destroying the rights of their people, and we shouldn't be doing it. I think it is that simple, and one ought to be able to say so.

Second, I think that the answer that was given about fair trade and free trade always sounds very good, until you think through its implications. It means that through the mechanism of so-called "free trade,"we are going to sit down and negotiate a minutiae of regulations and so forth, to be enforced by what? A bunch of international bureaucrats. So that it turns out that, as I often tell people, free trade is not free trade, it is managed trade. It is socialism. And what we are seeing here on this podium, a bunch of free traders, and what they are actually doing is introducing socialism into America through the international back door. It is not the right thing to do, and we oughtn't to accept it.

COKIE ROBERTS: Not your turn.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Very briefly. Everybody's entitled to their opinions; not everybody's entitled to their facts is an old saying.

The day that NAFTA was signed we had $300 million a day trade with Canada. Today there's a billion dollars worth of trade. There have been several hundred thousand jobs created just because of NAFTA. Think of the potential if we expanded that free trade. One of the reasons why New Hampshire's economy is so good is because the trade between this state and Canada. In Mexico, the most prosperous part of Mexico, guess what, is the northernmost part, where we have these free trade zones. And it's working and it will continue to work.

COKIE ROBERTS: All right, let's move on to another part of foreign policy which is--

UNIDENTIFIED: Can Steve say one thing?

STEVE FORBES: On most favored nation, if the Chinese want a confrontation after they know the rules of engagement, MFN will go. And on expanding trade--

[Confused talking over each other] COKIE ROBERTS: When--

STEVE FORBES: --Cokie, I propose a North Atlantic free trade agreement. Bring in Ireland and Britain. Let's go across the ocean--

GARY BAUER: We need to repeal most favored nation status and Steve needs to remind some of his corporate friends that there are American companies--

COKIE ROBERTS: I need to be tough with you all.

When Pat Robertson gave his key speech to the Christian Coalition this year he talked about Third World poverty--that was his message. Again back to the bishops, they ask a question: How do we address the tragedy of 35,000 children dying every day of the consequences of hunger, debt and the lack of development around the world? What about this question of Third World debt, and what about this question of the United States' moral role in the world?

ALAN KEYES: I served as Ambassador to UN Economic and Social Council and Assistant Secretary of State. I dealt with those issues having to do with development and what we do, or don't do, and how third world countries are doing, and what the terrible situations are in day in and day out for several years. And I'll tell you the truth: the notion that we can wave some magic wand, send money, do loans, do whatever, that's fundamentally going to change the situation of a lot of these developing countries is false. Do you know why? Because at the end of the day it is up to the people in those countries themselves to adopt the path of freedom, and to establish the institutions that can sustain it. Including institutions we don't always think of, like honest courts, where you can go to suit in order to sustain business relationships, and things of that kind.

I think, yes, we need to take an interest in helping other countries develop to the point where they can be effective trading partners with us but we shouldn't fool ourselves into believing that some "transfer of resources" is magically going to achieve this objective if they are not willing to adopt the right kind of free enterprise policies that will actually sustain their growth and development.

COKIE ROBERTS: Mr. Bauer, you have been short-shrifted in this segment.

GARY BAUER: Thanks Cokie. You know a lot of these Third World countries play the American taxpayer for suckers. They accept large loans that are being pushed on them, quite frankly, by the foreign policy establishment in the United States.

COKIE ROBERTS: But what about the people in these countries?

GARY BAUER: Well, not the people of the countries. But look, this is important. If the politicians in Washington think that more of the American taxpayers' money ought to go to Third World countries, then have the courage to go to the American people and say we're going to increase foreign aid. But don't tell us that these are loans and then when the loans build up so high that nobody can pay them back forgive the loans and essentially just give them a grant. Alan's right, a lot of the problem in the Third World quite frankly is socialistic policies. Government policies that really discourage free enterprise, discourage investment, discourage the sort of things that will lift people out of poverty. And I think we need to take what we know about our democratic capitalism, export that, as well as encourage church groups and others that can do tremendous things in those Third World countries. But the idea that American taxpayers, in addition to everything else we've got on our shoulders, are going to have to bail out everybody else's bad economic policies just doesn't make sense.

COKIE ROBERTS: Is it American taxpayers or American banks?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: I think its got to be-- you know we can't just saddle American taxpayers with every problem in the world. Again it comes down to what are our vital interests, what are critical interests and what are just interests. You know, I suppose we should have done more in Rwanda, but that was not a vital interest to us. I have to say--

COKIE ROBERTS: I asked you was it a moral--does the United States have a moral stake in the world?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Yes, it was a moral, it was a moral interest, and you're looking at a Senator who helped to devise the National Endowment for Democracy, who actually worked with the AFL-CIO in helping to get books and money and pencils and mimeograph machines to the Solidarity when it was just starting in the late '70s. And I have to say we do have an obligation, a moral obligation to help people, but we cannot be the complete sustenance of the whole world. We just don't have those kind of assets, nor should we saddle the American people with more taxes to do it. I think though that we do have to be careful of our vital interests, and if we don't do that we're going to reap the whirlwind.

COKIE ROBERTS: Mr. Forbes, you have--we're about to finish this segment and you have the first question in the next segment so let me turn to Sen. McCain who's desperate.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: In the world there's a direct correlation between poverty in those countries and the institutions of democracy. Where democracy grows, economies improve. The United States of America is a beacon--hope and freedom and liberty for every nation in the world wherever there are oppressed people. Wherever there's poverty, wherever there's inequity, wherever there is injustice. The people of those countries look to the United States of America. We can help in a broad variety of ways--including programs such as the Peace Corps. And as president of the United States, I want to inspire young Americans to commit themselves to causes greater than their self interest. Wherever there's a hungry child there's a great cause; wherever there's people killing each other for ethnic or tribal reasons there's a great cause. And that's really what being president of the United States is all about.

COKIE ROBERTS: We're now moving on to the next segment--

GARY BAUER: Can I just make one point. There's nothing moral about taking a truck driver in Manchester, New Hampshire who's working 18 hours a day to put food on his table, and take his money and send it to the Soviet Union to subsidize some thugs.

COKIE ROBERTS: Now we are moving on; now we are moving on segment. No. Which is--

ALAN KEYES: You made a point a minute ago about banks, like there's a distinction between banks and taxpayers. Excuse me. We have farmers sitting in Iowa, where we have to appropriate billions of dollars to try to help them get through hard times. Why? Because that capital isn't being made available to them through the banking system--

COKIE ROBERTS: Mr. Keyes we need to move on--

ALAN KEYES: --so I don't think the distinction is clear. Our banks should be giving preference to...

COKIE ROBERTS: ...need to move on to education and social issues. And Mr. Forbes has the first question on education and social issues.

And that is: Nationwide, education is being cited by voters as the number one issue. Here in New Hampshire even more so it's being cited by voters as the number one issue. Now that could be because New Hampshire feels it's in something of an education crisis since the Court has thrown out its primary system of financing the schools. And today the State Senate voted for an income tax to try to finance the schools. We'll see how that all comes out; it's politically very up in the air. How do we get bollixed up like this and how do we get out of it?

STEVE FORBES: Well the reason we have an education crisis in America is because education is a monopoly. Monopolies don't work in business; they don't work in education. Every American parent should have the freedom to send their child to the school they think best for that child. That means taking money from the Education Department, block granting it back to states and municipalities with the proviso--and this is what I'll do as president--with the proviso that parents have genuine free choices to pick their own school, any school they wish. Also too when you have that kind of freedom, standards are raised.

In Milwaukee, for example, they've had an experiment for several years of allowing parents true choice, growing each year. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court refused to throw that experiment out. You know what happened? The regular school system made this offer to parents. They said if you enroll your child in a public school in kindergarten we the school system guarantee that your child will be reading at grade level by the end of second grade or the school at its own expense will provide the tutoring and teaching necessary to bring that child up to speed.

That's the kind of accountability we want. You only will have it with freedom. That's why I want parents, not politics running our schools. Washington has to get out of the education business. They're trying to take it over. Make no mistake about standards at a national level. That's the way of Washington taking over our curriculum and we shouldn't tolerate it.

COKIE ROBERTS: Senator McCain?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Indeed if we're going to take full advantage of this incredible information technology revolution that we're experiencing we have to, we must, improve education. It has become an equal rights issue in America, it really has. Its become a civil rights issue. Because the poorest students in America are suffering and the wealthiest obviously have the kind of choice and competition that every school child in America should have.

First, let's start paying teachers more. Let's put in merit pay. Let's help those teachers who are not good teachers find another line of work. There's no reason why a good teacher should be paid less money than a bad Senator. Let's try vouchers. I have a proposal--take away the ethanol subsidies; take away the sugar subsidies; take away the gas and oil subsidies. You can have a test voucher program in every poor school district in every state in America. Let's try it.

Charter schools work in my state; they're a resounding success. We have a wonderful superintendent of education, Lisa Graham Keegan, who's done a marvelous job. We can through choice and competition improve the level of education in America to put it to the same level as our colleges and universities, which are the best in the world, but we're going to have to do a lot of work and we're going to have to break the grip of the teachers unions if we're going to be able to achieve that.


ALAN KEYES: Well, I think it is clear that one main principle needs to be re-implemented in our approach to education: parents need to be put in the diver's seat once again, instead of educrats and bureaucrats. To that end, we need to break the government monopoly on education by making sure that the money we spend on education follows the choice of parents, not the choice of the educrats and the bureaucrats.

That will then do two things. It will make sure that the schools have to be responsive to the parents, who will then be able to send their children to schools of their choice, set up new schools if they think that is what is necessary. But it will also reestablish a vital link that has been broken between faith and moral viewpoint, and our educational system.

People say, "Why are there guns and killing in school?" Well, I'll tell you. We got the guns in because we drove God out. And we will get God back in, when we put parents back in the driver's seat so they can send their children to schools that reflect their faith, their values, their sense of the moral priorities that are the real basis for educational success and motivation.

I think that that two-fold approach, which empowers parents at the grassroots and which reestablishes the vital connection between education and our moral discipline and our moral principles are the key to seeing our schools improve.

What is not the key, by the way, is what is often implied when people talk in these terms of poor and rich, and all this stuff. We have some of the poorest people in the country in the District of Columbia; we also have some of the highest per capita spending per student. It hasn't produced great results, because money is not the key. We need to look at the true keys, and not talk as if throwing money at education will solve things.


GARY BAUER: Thanks Cokie. You know I was undersecretary of education for a number of years under Ronald Reagan, and it was an incredible experience to be in that bureaucracy personally and be able to deal with it. I had about 17,000 people that were under me at the department; a $17 billion budget. Those bureaucrats were by and large nice people. But I have to be honest with you. I spent about 95% of every day saying "No" to the dopiest ideas I've ever heard of in my life. They all thought they knew how to run the schools of New Hampshire and every other state better than the parents and the teachers of those states did. That budget then of $17 billion, it's about $37 billion now. It may be headed to over $40 billion. I doubt if people in New Hampshire and around the country have noticed the improvement.

We do need vouchers, educational choice; we need to get back to basics. One of the sad things I found in the schools is that many of our children even at the high school level don't know the central moral idea behind America. Again in the Declaration of Independence where it says, "All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." I asked that question at a high school recently and the student said, "I think it said, "All men are entitled to rights." Well he left out the moral idea. We need to teach all of our children that; we need to get back to basics. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, we need to teach our children to have knowing heads and loving hearts because nothing less than that will do.

COKIE ROBERTS: Senator Hatch.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Well I have to say that Gary Bauer did a very good job when he was at the Department of Education. I was a--I'm former chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee that oversaw the federal education programs and I agree with everything he just said.

I have to tell you education is far too important to be left to the federal government. When the president calls for 100,000 teachers, that's a game. He called for 100,000 police in the street. All they did was provide more and more jobs, make-work jobs, that didn't get into the streets with regard to crime. You're going to have the same thing with teachers. Keep in mind Al Gore and President Clinton love public education so much that they sent all their children to private schools.

Now Elaine and I went to public schools, our six children went to public schools, we're proud of the public schools; we think we have great public schools in this country.

And I agree with Alan over here. We pay about $11,000 per student in the District of Columbia, which is basically a federal school system, and those kids get the worst education in the country. It's not fair to them. Now we've got to do something about this. And the best way to do it is give teachers, parents and children some choice here. I think we can have the greatest school system in the world, but there ought to be choice. If parents in these inner cities aren't getting good schooling for their children, they ought to be able to walk and they ought to be able to move those kids out of there. And anything less than that really takes away the rights and the freedoms that all of us would like to have. Let's take care of our kids. Let's do what's right for our children. My gosh.

COKIE ROBERTS: You know all of you have supported choice in some form.


COKIE ROBERTS: Yesterday the House of Representatives, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives took a vote on school vouchers. They went down. It also took a vote on Title I, the program for the disadvantaged. It succeeded overwhelmingly Would you all have voted that way and why do you think Republicans in the House did?

STEVE FORBES: I think that's why this election, Cokie, is so important. We need to establish the basic principles that are going to govern this country going into the new century. And in education, we've got to rip it out of Washington this idea that they can direct education, where Republicans and Democrats get in the thrall that government knows best, and get it back in the hands of parents. You need a mandate from the electorate to do that. You see it here in New Hampshire. You have judicial activism, where unelected Supreme Court justices are trying to impose a state income tax. Its happened in other parts of the country. We have to say no, we have to give vouchers, scholarships back in the hands of parents so they can make that choice, not unelected bureaucrats and certainly not unelected judges.

COKIE ROBERTS: Go ahead Senator, I think it's--

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Just a brief comment. Special education is an unfunded mandate. The federal government has that obligation to pay for special education programs. But the problem is compounded because local schools take discipline problems and put them in the special education programs. We've got to tighten that up, but we also have to take care of our children who have special problems.

COKIE ROBERTS: Well what about this question of how the Republicans are voting?

ALAN KEYES: Well, I would have to say that what Senator McCain just said is a good example of what I think is part of the problem with the whole federal role in education. Let's not pretend that the things that are being done at the local level aren't influenced by the sense that, "well, we'll get federal funds if we move over here," and that the way they make decisions is then distorted by the fact that the federal government is in various ways leveraging and manipulating control over those local institutions.

That's why I think it is essential that we stop talking out of both sides of our mouths, stop talking about "national standards" and "what I'm gonna do when I get in there to make education this and that." I'll tell you one thing: it's not what I'm going to do as President that will satisfy the need. Am I going to put power back into the hands of people at the grassroots, so they can do what has to be done? And once I have achieved that, am I going to do what Ronald Reagan promised to do, abolish the federal Department of Education, so that we can make it clear that education is a local, grassroots responsibility?

COKIE ROBERTS: Well again that was before the Congress--it never happened.

GARY BAUER: Cokie, a couple of points. First of all most Republicans did vote for choice, and most Democrats overwhelmingly voted against it because they are [inaud] control of the teacher unions.

I think there's something else we need to get at and it's simply this. We need to get the courts out of the schools. Not only here in New Hampshire do we see this judicial activism. Out at Columbine High School six months ago you two boys, Eric and Dylan, coming to school every day giving each other the Nazi salute in the hallway. Nobody sent them home, nobody brought them to the principal's office, nobody asked their parents to come in for a parent-teacher conference, and yet if a teacher at Columbine had hung up the Ten Commandments voluntarily she would have been in the principal's office the same day. See the reason those boys weren't disciplined is that the administrators, the adults in that school, were afraid that they might violate the boys rights, that they would end up being dragged into court. We've got to get these judges out of the classroom. What's happening here in New Hampshire right now, with the state Supreme Court trying to run the schools is a state tragedy.

COKIE ROBERTS: Let me ask another judicial question. Yesterday in the Senate there were a couple of votes, one on partial birth abortion, which was overwhelmingly voted against, but not overwhelmingly enough to override a presidential veto. One on upholding Roe vs. Wade. Senator McCain, you weren't there for that vote. How would you have voted?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I would have said the Roe v. Wade--I would have voted for the abolishment of Roe vs. Wade.

COKIE ROBERTS: And--go ahead.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I just wanted to get back to something that Gary was saying. I went to a charter school with Bill Bennett, our former secretary of education, and walked into the classroom, third grade; teacher had on the table The Children's Book of Virtues. The teacher was teaching the virtue of the month: Why we need to tell the truth. She was asking the class, "Why is it important to tell the truth?" "What happens when you don't tell the truth?" You wouldn't find that kind of dialogue in any public school in America. It has nothing to do with religion; it has to do with Judeo-Christian principles. We need to put that back into our schools as well.

ALAN KEYES: By the way, Senator, I think that the abolition of Roe vs. Wade would deserve a little louder affirmation than that, maybe a little clearer, in the sense that, "of course" you would have voted to abolish Roe vs. Wade, because it is not a matter of majority vote. If our basic principle is correct, and our rights come from the Creator, then they don't come from our mother's choice.

We need, at every opportunity, as we had to do with slavery and civil rights, to remind the American people that we, as a people, claim our rights based upon a premise that forbids it to us to deny those rights to other human creatures of God, including the creatures in the womb. [Cokie Roberts tries to interject].

And I think that that was what that vote was about. I am glad that the Republicans in the Senate overwhelmingly affirmed that truth. And I think that it is a disgrace to suggest that we can back away from that fundamental principle of truth, and then expect our children to accept the notion that we ought to tell the truth. Because if we abandon our fundamental principles, and we don't have the moral character at the public policy level, then we are setting such a bad example of truth for our children that we should expect their consciences to be corrupted.

COKIE ROBERTS: Senator Hatch, today in response to those votes yesterday Governor Bush said here that people should be able to disagree about abortion rights and [inaud] to support adoption. Should people be able to disagree on this subject?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: You're asking the wrong person because that's a personal religious belief to me.

COKIE ROBERTS: Should other people be able to disagree?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH: People should be able to believe the way they want to. On the other hand, I think there are moral values that have to be upheld.

Back to the school districts, you know, one of the problems in our schools today is that teachers have a very difficult time doing reasonable discipline for fear that they're going to be sued. We've got to get away from that. We've got too much of a litigation oriented society. Parents are afraid that their kids won't be safe in schools today and we've got to resolve those problems. You know the only fear a child should have in schools today ought to be the next test that's coming up. It shouldn't be whether the kid next to him is going to, is going to beat him up or use a gun or do something else. And to be honest with you, we've had 12,000 kids--they're not just kids--caught illegally taking guns to school in violation of federal law. Guess how many? Thirteen.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH: It's pathetic.

GARY BAUER: Governor Bush's comment is nonsensical with all due respect to him. I wish he was here so we could talk to him about it. Nobody's suggesting that you can't believe something, or have an opinion in America. The question is what [inaud] the law of the United States say. I believe the law of the United States ought to say that all of our children--black, white, rich, poor, [inaud], born and unborn ought to be welcomed into the world and protected by the law. I will not put one judge on any federal court unless they believe that, unless they believe the words of our Declaration of Independence, unless they understand that our liberty doesn't come from them or the president or the Congress, that it comes from God and that he's the author of it.

COKIE ROBERTS: Mr. Forbes, I need to get you in here.

STEVE FORBES: Well, I thin the Declaration is very clear with unalienable rights--life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our Founders put those rights in that order deliberately. If you put liberty before life, that's a license to kill, which is what we have too often today. And life is a God-endowed right, it is not a state-endowed right. When that baby is conceived that is a separate being deserving full protection of the laws of this land.

I think the ground is beginning to shift in America. We saw it on the partial birth debate where Americans now realize this is a form of infanticide. I've put forth a proposal to get step-by-step to convince the American people to move towards the life amendment. And Gary is right. Judges should be pro-life. My running mate will be pro-life and share those principles. I think we can change hearts and minds in America and have a country again--when you see that sonogram, that baby, that baby is deserving of the full protection of the laws [inaud].

COKIE ROBERTS: We're just about out of time. Go ahead Senator McCain and then I want to ask you all one last quick question.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: ...17-year pro-life voting record; I'm proud of that. We need to start a dialogue and discussion in this country how we can improve adoption. I'm proud to be an adoptive father---that has enriched our lives. We need to talk about foster care. We need to talk about many ways that we can work together both pro-life and pro choice people who share the goal of eliminating abortion. There's too much polarization; there's too much bitterness and hatred and anger. We need to sit down and have a dialogue. I hold my views and my party holds our views of pro-life, but we cannot be exclusionary. We must be inclusionary.

COKIE ROBERTS: Now let me just ask you very quickly, because we're really out of time. Pat Buchanan, not here tonight. We expect him Monday to announce that he's leaving the Republican party. Good? Bad? Why?

GARY BAUER: Well I think anytime somebody leaves our party it's bad. It was interesting in recent months to suddenly hear all that talk about big tent being dropped; when it came to a conservative leaving we found that the tent was fine without him. I wish he could stay. I certainly want his supporters to stay and quite frankly I'd like his supporters to vote for me because I believe that I've got the kind of conservative philosophy that they...

COKIE ROBERTS: All right, now I just need yes, no.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH: I want to keep everybody in the party we can and I hate to see anybody go.

STEVE FORBES: I think the key is if the Republican Party has an exciting, conservative, principled agenda, such as we had in the 1980s, whether there are three parties or ten parties, we will win. If we have mush like we did in the recent elections we lose.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Pat Buchanan left the Republican Party.

COKIE ROBERTS: We're going to commercial at this point or whatever we have here or black. And thank you very much and thank you for joining us at New Hampshire Public Television here in New Hampshire.

Presidential Candidate Debates, Republican Presidential Candidates Forum in Durham, New Hampshire Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/276129

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