Debate 1984, Vice President; George Bush And Geraldine Ferraro
Allies in Europe in a monopoly position the Soviets with twelve hundred of these things and the alliance with none. We didn't think that's the way you deter aggression and keep the peace. The president went the first thing he did when he came into office was make a proposal on the most de-stabilizing weapons of all start and when they saw this strategic weapons and when the Soviets said well we don't like that proposal we said or it will be more flexible. I at the urging of the president went to Egypt went to Geneva and laid on the table a treaty to ban all chemical weapons we don't want them to have a monopoly but we said look let's come together. You come over here and say what we're doing we'll go over there and say what you're doing but let's save the kids of this world from chemical weapons. A brilliant proposal to get rid of all of them. And the Soviets yet and yet and yet. In the mutual balance force reduction to reduce conventional forces they're not even willing to tell us the base. Mrs. Ferraro knows that of how many how many troops they have there's four sessions we have had an agreement with them on the hotline. But the Carter Mondale bit made an agreement the salt to agreement but the Democratic Senate they were a Democratic administration the Democratic Senate wouldn't even ratify that agreement. It was flawed it was unverifiable and it was not good. Our president wants to reduce not just to stop he wants to reduce dramatically nuclear weapons. And when the Soviets know they're going to have this strong president to deal with and when this new administration Mr. Cheney and goes given more than a few months in office can solidify its position then they'll talk. But if they think the opposition before they sit down are going to give up the M-x give up the B-1 go for a freeze that locks and inferiority in Europe. All of these things unilaterally before they're willing to talk. They may just sweat it out for four more weeks who knows.
You were once quoted as saying that a nuclear war is winnable. Is that still your belief and if not under what circumstances would you use nuclear weapons if you were president no I don't think it's winnable.
I was quoted wrong obviously because I never thought that the Soviet planning I did learn that when I was director of central intelligence and I don't I don't think there'd be any disagreement is based on that ugly concept. But I agree with the president should never be fought. Nuclear weapons should never be fought with and that's that so that's our approach so therefore let's encourage the Soviets to come to the table as we did at the gourmet co meeting. I wish everybody could have seen that with the president given the facts to make go in all of these nuclear nuclear meetings. Excellent. Right on top of that subject matter and I'll bet you that Gromyko went back to the Soviet Union saying hey listen this president is calling the shots we'd better move. But you know what I think we'll get an agreement because I think it is in the interest of the Soviet Union to make it just as it is in the interest of the United States. They're not deterred by rhetoric. I listen to their rhetoric for two years at the United Nations I've lived in a communist country. It's not rhetoric that decides agreements. It's self-interest of the of the those countries.
Congresswoman Ferraro you and Mr. Mondale up for a verifiable nuclear freeze. Some Democrats have said that verification may not be possible. How would you verify such an agreement and make sure that the Soviets are not cheating.
Let me say first of all that I don't think that there is any issue that is more important in this campaign in this election than the issue of war and peace. And since today's Eleanor Roosevelt's 100th birthday let me quote her she said it is not enough to want peace you must believe in it does not have to believe in it you must work for it. This is ministrations policies have indicated quite the opposite. The last time I heard Vice President Bush blamed the fact that they didn't meet with the Soviet leader and this is the first president in 40 years not to meet with the Soviet counterpart. He said the reason was because there are three Soviet leaders in the past three and a half years I went and got a computer printout.
It's five pages of the leaders world leaders that the Soviet leaders have met with and they're not little people they're people like France and Croll Germany and present keep Cyprus you can down the line five pages of people that the Soviet leaders have managed to meet with and somehow they could meet with the president of the United States meeting with his Soviet counterpart. This is the first president and you're right since the start of negotiating arms control agreement has not been to negotiate an arms control agreement but not only has it not negotiate when he's been opposed to every single one that every other president has negotiated including including Ford and including Nixon. Now let me just say that with reference to the vice president's comments about the intent and the desire of the United States in this administration the Soviet Union did walk out of the talks. I agree but it seems to me that 982 when the administration presented its star proposal that it was a realistic proposal and that is the comment that was made by Secretary Haig after he left office because what it dealt with was it dealt just with land based nuclear missiles which is where the Soviets had the bulk of their missiles. But that aside in 1992 I believe it was their own. Negotiator came out with a proposal called the walk in the woods proposal which would have limited the number of nuclear arms in Europe. That proposal was turned down by the administration a proposal presented by its own administrator. I'm delighted that they met with Mr. Kmiec but they could have had that opportunity meet with him in 1901 when he came to the UN which he had done with every other president before and in 1992 as well.
I guess my Congresswoman I'm sorry we got limits I have to impose a limit on you.
VICE PRESIDENT BUSH Well I think there's quite a difference between Mr. Compass new in Cyprus and the leader of the free world Ronald Reagan in terms of meeting and the Soviet Union the Soviet Union the Soviet Union will meet with a lot of different people. We've been very close touch with Mr. Major on Mr. Cole and and others that have met with the leaders of the Soviet Union. But that's quite different than meeting with the president of the United States. The Soviets say we'll have a meeting when we think there can be progress and yet they left those talks.
I'd like to correct my opponent on the walk in the woods. It was the Soviet Union that was unwilling to discuss the walk in the woods they were the ones that gunned it down first and the record is very very clear on that. Miss Ferraro mentioned the inflexibility of our position on strategic arms.
Yes we offered first to get rid of all those who try to reduce the SSA teens and those weapons but then we said if that's not good enough there is flexibility Let's talk about the bombers in the planes. So that's a very important point in terms of negotiation.
Congresswoman he that taketh away has to give back I rob you of your rebuttal. Therefore you will have two minutes to rebut. Forgive me.
I see you rob me of my follow up. Why don't I let her give me the fall right into your bones. OK.
Congresswoman for our most polls show that the American Americans feel that the Republicans more than the Democrats are better able to keep the U.S. out of war. We've had four years of relative peace under President Reagan. How can you convince the American public that the world would be a safer place under Carter Mondale.
I think first of all you have to take a look at the current situation we now have fifty thousand nuclear warheads we have. We are building at the rate of five or six a day between us and we have been doing that since this administration came into office. I think what you can do is look at what they've done and recognize that they're not going to do very much in the future. And so since they've done nothing do we continue to build because an arms race doesn't lead to anything it leads to another arms race and the. Vice President Mondale has indicated that what he would do first of all he gets into office is contact his Soviet counterpart and set up an annual summit meeting that's never want to start negotiating to start talking. Secondly he would issue a challenge and the challenge would be in the nature of temporary mutual verifiable moratoria to testing in the air in the atmosphere that would respond with a challenge from the Soviet Union.
We hope to sit down and negotiate a treaty that was done in 1960 I don't know what you're doing so you have another minute. OK I'm watching them play. So I have another minute. What that would do is it would give us the opportunity to sit down and negotiate. That was done in 1960 by President Kennedy in 1963. What he did was he issued a challenge to the Soviet Union. He said We will not test in space in the atmosphere if you will not. They did not into my treaty. We do not now have to worry about that type of testing. It can be done. It will be done if only you have the will to do it. Again remember it is mutual. It is verifiable and it is a challenge that once that challenge is not met if testing were to resume then we would continue testing as well.
Our last series of questions on foreign affairs from Mr. Boyd and Congresswoman Ferraro.
You have had little or no experience in military matters and yet you might someday find yourself commander in chief of the armed forces. How can you convince the American people and the potential enemy that you would know what to do to protect this nation's security. And do you think in any way to the Soviets might be tempted to try to take advantage of you simply because you are a woman.
Are you saying that I would have to have fought in a war in order to love peace.
I'm not saying that I'm asking you. You know what I asked. All right.
I think what happens is when you try to equate whether or not I've had military experience that's the natural conclusion. It's about as valid as saying that you would have to be black in order to despise racism that you have to be female in order to be terribly offended by sexism. That's just not I think if you take a look at where I've been in the Congress and where I intend to go the type of person I am I think that the people of this country can rely upon the fact that I will be a leader of the Soviet Union for one minute.
I can sit down and make a determination what I will do if I'm ever in a position to have to do something with reference to the Soviet Union. Frankly I'm prepared to do whatever is necessary in order to secure this country and make sure that security is maintained. Secondly if we're to ever believe that they could challenge the United States that a sort of nuclear forces or otherwise if I were in a position of leadership in this country they would be assured that they would be met with swift concise and certain retaliation.
For me to say I want to thank him.
The most important thing that I think is as a leader that what one has to do is get to the point where you're not put into that position. And the way you get to that position of moving away from having to make a decision on force or anything else is by moving toward arms control. And that's not what's been done over the past four years. I think if you were to take a look at the fair use of this administration that would have to be number one. I will not put myself in that position as a leader in this country. I will move immediately toward arms control negotiations.
But for my follow I'm going to borrow a leaf from the Sunday night debate between your principals and ask you what is the single question you would most like to ask your opponent here on foreign policy.
Oh I don't. I don't have a single question I guess the concern that I have is is a concern not only as a vice presidential candidate a citizen in this country. My concern is that we are not doing anything to stop the arms race and it seems to me that if we keep talking about the military which we do not have we are at this confortable level with the Soviet Union. Our Joint Chiefs of Staff have said they'd never exchange our military power for theirs.
I guess the thing that I would want is a commitment that pretty soon they're going to do something about making this a safer world for all of us.
Vice President Bush four years ago President Reagan insisted that a military build up would bring the Soviets to negotiate seriously. Since then we have spent almost a trillion dollars on defense but the Soviets are still building their military forces as rapidly as we are. And there are no negotiations. Was the president's original premise his whole strategy wrong.
You know I think his strategy not only was correct but is correct. You've got to go back where we were clearly when we came into office. The American people recognized that we had slipped into positions of inferiority on various things some of our planes as the president points out were older than the older than the pilots ships that couldn't couldn't go out to sea and you had a you had a major. Problem with the military actually the morale wasn't very good either. So we have had to strengthen the military and we're well on the way to getting that job done. America is back in terms of military strength in terms of our ability to deter aggression and keep the peace.
All the same time however we have made proposals and proposals and proposals sound proposals on reducing nuclear weapons the strategic arms reduction talks were good proposals and if the Soviets that left the table the intermediate nuclear force talks were sound talks and I wish the Soviet Union had continued them. The chemical weapon treaty to ban all chemical weapons it was our initiative not the Soviets. And we wish they would think anew and move forward to verification so that everybody would know whether the other side was keeping its word but much more important. You had Lou reduce the level of terror. Similarly we're reducing or trying to talk to them and are talking to them in Vienna about conventional force reductions. We've talked to them about human rights. I've met with Mr. and dropoff and Mr. Chernenko And we mention and we try to do something about the human rights question. The suppression of Soviet Jews is absolutely intolerable and so we have to keep pushing forward on the on the moral grounds as well as on the arms reduction grounds. But it is my view that because this president has been strong and because we've redress the imbalances and I think we're very close to having getting that job done.
The Soviets are more likely to make a deal. The Soviets made it a B M treaty when they thought we were going to deploy an ABM system. So I am optimistic for the future. Once they realize that they will have this strong principled president to negotiate with strong leadership and yet with demonstrable flexibility on arms control.
And now I'll give you a chance Mr. Vice President to ask the question you'd most like to ask of your opponent.
I have none I'd like to ask ever but I'd sure like to use the time to talk about the World Series or something of that nature. Let me let me put it this way. I don't have any question about we have we are so different from the Reagan Bush administration is so different from the Carter Mondale administration that the American people are going to have the clearest choice it's a question of going back to the failed ideas of the past where we came in 21 1/2 percent on those interest rates inflation despair Malays no leadership blaming the American people for failed leadership.
Or another option keep this recovery going to lead benefits absolutely everybody. Peace at home peace abroad prosperity opportunity. I'd like to hear a talk on those things but I think the yellow light is flashing and so we'll leave it there.
Nothing on the World Series. Well.
Just one problem I think the vice president's comment about the Carter Mondale administration is an indication of just it's really typifies this administration it's an estrangement looks backwards not forwards and into the future. I must say that I'm also tickled by their comments on human rights. The Soviet Union in 1989 allowed fifty one thousand people to emigrate because a large measure of this administration's policies over the past four years. Thirteen hundred thirteen people of the Soviet Union in 1983 or 1984. That's not a great record on human rights and certainly our record on human rights achievements this ministration spend a trillion dollars on defense but it hasn't gotten a trillion dollars of national security.
But President Bush your rebuttal no rebuttal. Well we then can go to the closing statements each statement will be four minutes in length and will begin with the vice president.
And then a couple of weeks you know the American people will be face three weeks where the choice is the clearest choice in some 50 years.
And the choice is do we move forward with strength and with prosperity or do we go back to weakness despair disrespect. Ronald Reagan and I have put our trust in the American people.
We've moved some of the power away from Washington D.C. and put it back with the people we're pulling together the neighborhoods are safer because crime is going down. Your sons and daughters are doing better in school. Test scores are going up. There's a new opportunity lying out there in the future. Science technology and space offering opportunity to to everybody all the young ones coming up. And abroad there is no leadership and and respect. And Ronald Reagan his Clearly the strong leader of the free world.
And I'll be honest with you. It's a joy to serve with a president who does not apologize for the United States of America.
Mr. Mondale on the other hand has one idea. Go out and tax the American people. And then he wants to repeal indexing to wipe out the 1 protection that those at the lower stand of the economic scale have. Protecting them against being rammed into higher and higher tax brackets.
We just all our country too much to go back to that kind of an approach. I'd like to say something to the young people I I started a business.
I know what it is to have a dream and have a job and work hard to employ others and really to participate in the American dream and some of you out there finishing high school or college and some of you're starting out in the working place and we want for you. America's greatest gift and that is opportunity. And then on pace yes I did serve in combat I was shot down when I was a young kid scared to death and all that dead saw friends die. But that heightened my convictions about peace.
It is absolutely essential that we guarantee the young people that they will not know the agony of war. America's gift opportunity and peace. Now we do have some unfinished business. We must continue to go ahead. The world is too complex to go back to vacillation and weakness. We use too much going on to go back to the failed policies of the past. The future is too bright not to give it our best shot. Together we can go forward and lift America up to meet her greatest dreams.
Thank you very much. I.
I'm like you very much I must say no in matters of equity.
You will be allowed applause at the end of your closing statement so if you please I hope somebody wants to applaud.
The candidate for vice president of my party is the greatest honor I have ever had a personal achievement for Geraldine Ferraro and certainly not only the that I feel as I go across this country with women throughout the country I would be standing here Fritz Mondale didn't have the courage of my party to stand for the values that it does the values of fairness and equal opportunity. Those values make our country strong and the future of this country is what this election is all about. Over the last two months I've been traveling all over the country talking to people about the future. I was in Kentucky and I spoke to the dye house family he works for a car dealer. He's worried about the deficits and how high interest rates are going to affect his job. Young parents their children they say are we going to stop this nuclear arms race.
I was in Dayton Ohio week and a half ago and I sat with the Allen family who live next door to a toxic dump and they are very very concerned about the fact that those toxics are seeping into the water that they and their neighbors drink.
People love this country and they're patriotic. That's not the patriotism that you're seeing in the commercials as you watch television these days. Their patriotism is not only a pride in the country as it is but a pride in this country that is strong enough to meet the challenges of the future. You know we find jobs for the 8 1/2 million people who are unemployed in this country. You know we'll make our economy stronger and that will be a patriotic act when we reduce the deficits we cut interest rates and I know the president doesn't believe that but it's because those interest rates young people can buy houses that's pro-family and that will be a patriotic act and we educate our children. Good Lord they're going to be able to compete in a world economy and that makes us stronger and that's a patriotic act and we stop the arms race. We make this a safer Saina world. And that's a patriotic act.
And when we keep the peace young men don't die. And that's a patriotic act.
Those are the key to the future. And who can be the leader for the future. When Walter Mondale was attorney general of Minnesota. He led the fight for a man who could not afford to get justice because he couldn't afford a lawyer. But it was the Senate before for child nutrition programs. He wrote the housing Fair Housing Act. He even he even investigated the concerns the abuses of migrant workers and why did he do that. Those weren't popular causes. No one had ever heard of Black Clarence Gideon the man without a lawyer. Children don't vote and market workers aren't exactly a powerful lobby in this country but he did it because it was right. Fritz Mondale has said that he'd rather lose a battle over decency than Win one over self interest. And I agree with him. This campaign is not over for our country for our future for the principles we believe in. Walter Mondale and I have just begun to fight.
Thank you very much. I'd like to thank Vice President Bush congresswoman for all the members of our panel for joining us in this League of Women Voters debate. I'd like to join you in thanking them. The city of Philadelphia and the League of Women Voters the League of Women Voters next debate the presidential debate will take place in Kansas City on October 21st the subject will be foreign affairs and it will begin at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Again our thanks We hope you'll join us on the 21st.
First President Bush shaking hands with his husband John Karr and she's being embraced by her children John Jr. and Laura and Mrs. Bush Doris they were in the red dress shaking hands with us for our.
And the two families Bush and. FERRARO Zork our families. Going there and getting ready for the photo opportunity that was promised by the League of Women Voters Dorothy ridings the president of the League of Women Voters shaking hands with Mr. Bush.
Talking to one of the Ferraro sons.
Wonderful demonstrations of affability after all the tension. And all the cutting things they probably would like to say to each other.
And what a wonderful moment it must be for the two candidates themselves after all the advice they've received and all the instructions and all the briefing to have it over with. The crowd in Philadelphia no more amenable to discipline than the invited guests were in the audience at Merivale the other night. And despite all the exhortations insisted on applauding pretty well when they wanted to. Know the group portrait. Jim are you there.
Yes I am. Robert MacNeil and I will be back in a moment on many public television stations with an analysis now of the debate who won if anyone. How much will it matter if at all.
This special edition of the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour is funded by AT&T the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and this and other public television stations. This is PBS the Public Broadcasting Service. Tonight a special edition of the MacNeil Lehrer News Hour on the vice presidential debate of 1984.
We are back now with an analysis of the Ferraro Bush encounter with four very interested party party Stu Democrats and two Republicans. The Republicans are analysts David Gergen and congressional leader Dick Cheney. The Democrats are Analyst Alan Baron and congressional leader Leon Panetta. Alan Baron who won. I think there. Are.
The only person that could have done unless it was for our liking people knew that Bush was qualified I don't think you heard himself. That was fine and I think she established her qualifications for the job in the end therefore measuring those expectations she won but I don't think it was that clear in any time between the two like that Mondale beat beat Reagan but I think she did fine and I think he did fine times I think without question the real test here tonight was for Ferraro most people know Bush.
They know they've seen him operate in the office. Could she answer the questions. Could she handle or sell that you reflect credibility as a potential vice president the United States. Did she maintain the momentum that really flowed from the of the Mondale Reagan debates and I think the answer to all of those is yes.
So that on that basis I think she comes out slightly ahead.
Congressman John you agree. No I don't. I would give them both realizing what's going on.
You know I think on balance some sort of divide the debate into three segments the first on domestic the second on foreign policy and the close and I think both of them acquitted themselves well I was very pleased with the vice president's performance I felt there was a weakness in the for our performance and focus specifically on the foreign policy arena. So I give the vice president high marks of the journey for I didn't do that with David Gergen.
I thought they were both effective. It's a hard call as to who won and I'm sure you can make those kind of judgments on the style I think for 0 8 and slightly ahead on points I thought which was I thought for rhode island what would I thought I thought she managed to. She was unruffled She was quiet she was you know she was effective AND and OR and she lowered her campaign style about an octave and I thought that was better than some of the recent TV appearances. On. The first half of it I thought she possibly had a slight edge on the domestics and I thought Bush had a. Very clear and decisive edge on foreign policy. Definitely agree with Dirk and overall I would say I don't know but can't be very happy tonight.
Thank you for all your smarts pursue style and image questions a moment gentlemen earned on BARON How did you feel what Geraldine Ferraro stood up just in terms of looking like a leader and handling herself Well I think she handled herself very well I think particularly here in her closing statement it was very strong and I think she she didn't let Bush get away with this little bit of you know when he started to give her a world affairs a lesson I think he might have done that you know with Ronald Reagan who didn't have any experience in world affairs when he became president I'm not sure that's qualification. But I'm what I'm saying is that I think she handled that part of it very well I think she did a good job.
As to Vice President Bush I think he has been obviously an awful lot of time in the White House because I noticed he was using those same head motions that of President Reagan that I don't know where he picked those up and they must I mean just I've been watching David Gergen who was at the White House to see if if you stop and start moving his hand that way. Yeah I think I have and obviously I'm going to spend a lot of fun moment there only the right out of congressmen and Congressman Cheney the vice president.
Press secretary Peter Tierney were saying today that Ferraro's danger was to use his word that she was too bitchy and that she did and that she was arrogant and that she would have to guard herself against that. Did any did you get any smell of that coming out of this thing.
Only on two occasions during the course of her remarks I thought when she responded implied that somehow the vice president's trying to lecture her on on foreign policy I didn't feel that Mr. Bush was doing that at all as a lot of us do strong reaction. And I want to jump back in Mr. Boyd on the panel on his question on her capacity to function as commander in chief would she be able to use military force if she had to. She came back in and I thought in a little bit a little bit of hostility and that does that mean I have to fight in a war I'm not qualified because I don't fight a war. I thought that was was uncalled for a little bit. But on balance I thought she she laid it if you will her tongue she has a reputation of houses being fairly tough and sort of brash kind of personality and tonight I thought she'd soften her presentation some extent Carson Pineta How did you feel about your dolly.
Just on grounds of style there this evening there was no question that I think everybody was watching to see whether in fact she is bitchy or whether she would panic at the questions or become overly defensive. And I think the demeanor throughout the debate was one of calmness directness. She had all the control of the facts she had control of the arguments. She was firm when I think needed she needed to be firm particularly on the question of what she would do if she had to become president. So I think overall the contrast again was one whether or not we have a vice presidential candidate who can really serve as vice president I think she proved that.
David Gergen what did you think of the little flare up over the Lebannon. Don't teach me about foreign affairs.
Well I have to say I I tend to like a sort of snappy style and it was it I found a person appealing I would have to I think most voters would not. And I thought that one of the striking differences between this debate and the Sunday night debate was that while she was a she modulating earth tone as Dick said she did not keep Vice Pres. Bush on the defensive at all if anything he managed to come back and be on the offensive in a much and effective why politically he made a number of points not only about the Carter Mondale administration which I thought helped his cause. He also took some shots at some of the Mondale positions and I thought he was in a much better situation she was she was not as effective I thought at taking the debate to him as Mondale had been something you agree with that don't burn.
Well I think so I think that what David's talking about though is a commentary on on President Reagan.
He did not join the debate certainly I don't know why but but he wouldn't join in the debate with Mondale and clearly George Bush joined it with her.
You know in every one said going into it which was true is that he had a problem Bush how do you debate it with a woman and so forth and you feel too aggressive or not. Well she had a problem to I you know if you watch in politics a woman has a real problem too because when you watch in politics the men kind of halfway to congressmen and senators they want they want the woman to act like their mother their sister and when she acts tough and strong they use words like that. To quote the vice president Bush's press secretary.
And they use words like that to describe things that if it were a man you wouldn't get that same reaction. It's a very tough thing you know because you're dealing with and I think she did fine and I think that the question obviously bothered her because they don't have the commander in chief question. But I will tell you something if I were if I were one of the heads of the Arab states I'd rather go up against any of these people and build a mayor.
I mean you know I take on Reagan Bush all of them and I want to take on the man Mr. Cheney I don't need to be gone Congressman Cheney or there was a lot of talk beforehand and I just referred to it about it being difficult for George Bush it might make him uncomfortable to be in a position of having to debate a woman.
Did you sense did you sense any discomfort in his demeanor. No it was he turning himself down because of that.
No I sense I was pleased with his basic presentation and I my impression having watched is that it didn't create the kind of problem for him that I originally thought it would. He was relaxed he was himself. He was respectful but in general he didn't seem to have any great difficulty in terms of the presentation I thought he was respectful. I didn't believe it was condescending in the same time he was firm when it had to be he was firm in part not so much by going to Mrs. Ferraro is by going to Walter Mondale and that was a useful device one.
Let's move on to substance. Congressman Panetta who had the who had the better of the argument in terms of substance let's talk about domestic affairs.
I think without question that her strong point was in the domestic area I thought her arguments were stronger. I thought that the vice president was a little whiny and a little bit defensive. I think he came back on the Foreign Affairs part. But on the domestic side I thought her arguments were much more direct in terms of dealing with issues like abortion and dealing with the questions of separation of church and state and dealing with the facts and statistics about the impact of the economic policies of the Reagan administration on the poor. I just felt that she was much more direct and people I think at that point were really looking to see whether she would fail.
At the initial outset of the debate you're very garnishment training that you have the better the domestic argument.
I thought I'd give them a score of them evenly on the northern Michigan as I felt that they both did an effective job of advocating their positions. Obviously there are major differences. I agree with the vice president and Leon agrees with Mrs Ferraro you agree with that Dave I'm sorry but so it's going to fall on the foreign policy area that's where I thought there were qualitative substantive problems with her presentation she was asked at one point about the problems of verification arms control agreement. She never attempted to even answer the question later on she came back and talked about how they were for mutual verifiable freeze she repeated it over and over and over again. But she'd been unable at all to address the problems of verification when the questions asked were directly.
David Gergen did you detect any factual errors in the presentations this evening. I think mistakes.
There was one at one time I thought she was talking about a marked car and a moratorium on testing of weapons and INS and the atmosphere which I really thought she was on that space a space issue and I that was one place where I thought she was a little confused. I did not find any terrible gas I have to tell you I thought it seemed to be both of them. At Paris start I wanted to ask yourself as you watch them do they have notes up there and I gather they did not know what I found out. Rest of it they they both could organize their thoughts. I think the ground rules are that they're not allowed to bring any any notes in they can make notes were there there were times particularly with us for our looking down and I wondered if she did a very good job I thought of organizing her thoughts before she spoke and reeled off the facts and figures. Well I do come back to the point that I thought in foreign policy in particular. The vice president was authoritative. He spoke with confidence and knowledge. He spoke with an intimate understanding of the problems and I think was very persuasive on the point he was making is that a question of a major one of substance is the much question your getters. No I think that I think that it reflected his experience and the fact he's been in many places in the world he knows those people he spent so many years in this field. She was more of a quick study I thought she made a pretty effective use of the limited experience she has had. But the fact it just shows that one person has had the exposure and knows it and can move into the office of the other person at this point in her life I just haven't had that kind of you're agree with that on foreign policy.
I don't disagree that I think that was his forte because of his background because of his experience and I think addressing the issues in Central America in terms of the factual background as well as the nuclear arms discussions I think he's got the depth he's got the background he's got the experience.
I think the important thing about. Geraldine Ferraro was that she in fact stayed even with him. She held her own. She may not have had all the facts but she was speaking to the American people I think very effectively in terms of overall policy issues and that may in the end be a more significant factor.
Do you agree with David Gergen that she lost her where you claim she lost her way a little bit in the question of a moratorium on testing in the atmosphere or space did you.
I'm not sure I didn't detect it that that closely and I'm not sure if most people did. I think there's no question that in terms of addressing some of those issues she's not on top of the facts as much as the vice president is. But again what I think she was trying to do was to emphasize themes to emphasize broad policy discussions in those areas. And I think in the end that may be more effective with the people who are watching.
Let's just before we close this section go around each of you starting with you our own Baron and ask in terms of reassuring the American public about ability to handle the job and discuss these issues and make decisions just in that sort of combination of substance and imagery that sort of re-insurance factor. How do you think it came out.
Well I think she did well. And on foreign policy I think that's the case and Granted she doesn't have the experience of Vice President Bush. But that didn't stop Vice President Bush. All that experience for 10 years from saying Year after year day after day we're winning the war in Vietnam it's going we'll we're getting out. Lyndon Johnson had experience Richard Nixon said in 1968 will be out in six months. Experience is always right the question is who is right on this nuclear freeze should the United States negotiate it. And when Bush says that it's been for four years and he couldn't get the Russians to agree on a nuclear treaty. That's true. Is that experience yes they have been able Nixon would have had a treaty of some kind. Eisenhower treaties these people have former presidents all had them. I don't know if sitting down and not being able to negotiate a treaty granted gives you a lot more experience but it may not be the right experience a lot of people had experience in Vietnam and told us we were winning.
David Gergen how do you feel about this question of reassuring on the feeling of competence to handle that kind of job after watching Geraldine Ferraro against George Bush for 90 minutes.
I thought that from her point of view she helped herself and helped the Democratic ticket with its voters. I think it it it probably dispelled some doubts about whether she was up to it. If there were any doubts and I'm not among the voters and I think it will shore up. I think the Democratic ticket among just among the Democrats so I don't think it will do what she did much to draw over independents or Republicans. I thought that overall that bush. Was the more reassuring figure in terms of the kind of person you would want in the oval office conducting and addressing the complex issues of the world. I think that that he left a strong impression in that regard. And I would venture to say that after this debate if you asked people which person would you rather have as President Bush would would would be clearly ahead.
That's a good seam on which to hand it over to you Jim.
Yeah let's talk about the impact of this if not going into this it will the deal was that the assumption that Mondale won number one in order for the Democrats to stay in the race or get more into the race. Ferraro had to win here to keep the momentum going. You think that happened Congressman pulled out of on the Democratic point of view.
I don't think there's any question but that. That momentum is still there because the major question tonight was not whether she could win the debate but whether she could hold her own. I think even a standoff with this debate which is probably where the judgment is going to lie I think if you weigh all of these factors the fact that it was a standoff the fact that she held her own maintains the minute David Gergen just said though that it it only helps in that way with Democrats and no others. Well that's pretty significant let me tell you that part of the panic in the Democratic Party of prior to the Mondale Reagan debate was whether in fact we would be holding Democrats in this election. The fact that we that Mondale won that first debate was very reassuring to Democrats. The fact that we now have a vice presidential candidate who can hold her own against the vice president is doubly reassuring and if we could bring home Democrats in the November election we will go a long way towards winning.
Dick Cheney how do you read the impact of this today on the race and on terms of the race itself I would say speaking for the party that has about a 15 point lead in the polls and Leon's happy holding their own will be delighted to leave it right there all the way to election.
I yeah my own feeling tonight is that the things have changed significantly in terms of the way people evaluate these two candidates. There's no question that one of the candidates acquitted themselves reasonably well tonight. I think the polls will probably show that Bush will continue to have a higher approval rating than FERRARO Well it's certainly an experience issue and I think it's important that we're getting going in terms of the total debate impact on the election. We sort of move on now to the next debate between Mondale and Reagan and an awful lot of writing on that I don't see anything that might that sort of fundamentally alter the dynamics of war would it work.
Ellen how do you read it. I think the issue tonight was Walter Mondale. It was the only issue and the real question was Walter Mondale made this decision to choose Geraldine Ferraro. And people said it's craziest decision and so forth he chose the first woman question as it would have been a very courageous decision no matter who he chose if they couldn't handle the job as vice president. So that's what people want to know about Walter Mondale. And my guess is that people watched this and said OK Mondale made a reasonable choice and whatever benefit he gets by breaking the mold by choosing you know is John Kennedy the first Catholic or Johnson even the first black to the Supreme Court or that sort of thing. Oregan naming the first woman you get some some credit for that. But if people had concluded you are qualified to be vice president then he wouldn't get any credit at all it would have been a demerit And I think that they said OK he gets credit for July 1 but she she's qualified energy quit it herself well and in that sense if you want to vote for vice president for president in that sense it helped Mondale.
I feel the Democrats tonight very much needed a victory they didn't need a drop that they had they have a sense of momentum coming out of Sunday night and they really will help the two to redouble that momentum and reenergize their troops on a second wave of enthusiasm out among across the states and I don't think that's what they got out of time so that I feel that it's not going to change the dynamics of this race very much I don't think it's going to chip away at the lever and I do think it help to shore up and strengthen their of their original base. But I don't think many voters to them I don't think it cause many voters to stand back and say maybe I rather reassess where I am and you know people who are who are for Reagan Bush I would have a very surprised of a lot of them said after tonight's debate after Sunday night's debate we have tonight's debate. I really think. We think when Laotians are. I don't think those kind of people are going to be breaking ranks.
But when I'm strong you won't let me say I think the important result of the first Mondale Reagan debate was not an immediate change people are not going to change that quickly from one candidate to the next but it raise significant questions. I think people began to say wait a minute we've got a presidential candidate here as very credible and who's very presidential in the way he responds to questions. Those question marks are there. I think tonight those question marks are still there because the fact is they saw a vice president who could handle or saw a vice presidential candidate who can handle herself. And so what we're looking at now is the fact that voters may not be moving in droves towards the Democratic ticket but they're asking questions and if we can maintain that momentum between now and the next debate then I think you could see a significant change.
Dick Cheney looking at it from a partisan vanity Did you see we saw what happened on Mondale the Mondale Reagan debate last Sunday they it built over two or three days and there was an age issue and very few people you will find even the most partisan of people who will say yes Mondale won that debate on Sunday night. You see anything in what you saw the last 90 minutes a good take on that kind of life tonight.
The only sense I haven't and this may turn out in the end to be a partisan judgment of the Mondale Ferraro advocates going one way and make sure she advocates going the other. Is that is the foreign policy area. I think if you were getting to the point of the day of matching the question of a moratorium on atmospheric testing I think you read the transcript you'll find that she did suggest that that'll be the first proposal from the new Mondale administration arms control and of course Kennedy did that 20 years ago when I was confusion there. Aside from that I really don't see anything that either one of them said that is likely to catch the kind of sort of follow on arguments debates and to be repeated time and time again on the nightly news programs and new super ships.
Sure what you're reading and I don't think I don't think so and I don't think it. You know even when when you had the last debate and Mondale and Bill got into it and everyone said that Mondale won window we've heard that you know War 2 is a Democratic war that didn't really dominate that campaign. Dick would remember it more it was talked about.
I don't think it I just don't I think that was an impossible situation I think anybody turned on TV. I will say this and watching this debate and the other not know the names would know which two were running for president and which two were running for vice president I don't think there'd be any doubt about that if what he knew what he meant I mean if somebody came here from I didn't speak any English or anything.
Yes exactly. Yes yes I I think Cyprus is you know going to be the Mat-Su. We've got a president got more publicity certainly he's paying someone Bob greyer somebody in Washington he gets a big. Should get a big bonus for his fever burned in Cyprus.
But what I'm saying is the people who watch this and fine and now they're gone and they're going to decide oh well they're going to side on Mondale Reagan they're going to side on their philosophies and direction of government a lot of things up to two weeks ago that wasn't even the issue up till two weeks ago. Walter Mondale had not established himself as Pat Condell said David quoted the other night as a plausible president a lot of people's minds. Now you had the issue join and I talked to people who don't like Mondale at all who are almost relieved that the country in their minds because the image of Mondale had a choice between two people that they thought could walk walk in the office and held a job. These people obviously more than Democrats felt Reagan did it or vice versa but the point is that now they're going to make this choice and I think that's where we've reached up in two weeks two weeks ago Mondale was not even an option for a lot of people that he had no use for Ronald Reagan. You're been you're nodding your head Leon Panetta.
No I think that's absolutely right I think that. The issue is whether we now had a credible campaign going. The fact is before those debates let me tell you that there was deep concern in the House of Representatives among Democrats as to whether we would face a tremendous landslide the same thing was true in the Senate side.
That debate ended that to a large extent suddenly there was credibility there suddenly candidates begin to feel good again and I think that's beginning to happen out in the country as well. David Gergen if you were still at the White House.
Would you be participating in discussions. Is something afoot here that we have to go out and try to stop. You agree with what these two guys are saying.
You know after tonight's debate. Yes I mean I don't know that I know I don't know I think you'll see a lot of smiles at the White House is that I think I think you'll find the people the White House generally will be very pleased with the results I think they feel a lot of that will help them do that.
You know fact as you said the aftermath of the first debate has been it's been almost more interesting than the debate itself. It's created a sense in the mind's eye that something was much more dramatic that Sunday night than really happened I think I think the debate was much closer Sunday night than than the REMEMBER time right now. I think Reagan was stronger than I remember now there's age issues come up here in the last 48 hours in a way that's created an impression of Reagan which I don't think was accurate that night. He was hesitant that night but he wasn't the doddering man that is portrayed now as some of the commentary. You know and I think tonight that Bush has helped to take the focus off that give and reassurance to people he's given a lift to the Reagan Bush campaign I think they'll come out of this very pleased the president be calling him not congressional I'm good thanks you for that good good job.
Will he do that it is.
Would it matter what I think there was or might be a photo opportunity but it was pretty surprising.
They went back tonight and didn't get calls about that.
Absolutely all right that was it down there was a story.
Yeah I agree.
Congressman Jenny let me ask you this you mentioned the 15 points in the polls that you folks are ahead now. Can you do you see any plausible scenario for that gap closing that over the next month.
I certainly I wouldn't want to say that it's absolutely impossible. It is possible that the Reagan age issue has gotten to be a bit of a problem for us I don't see it continuing to develop especially the president as well the second debate but it's something you can watch It's a new element a new factor in there that you'd have to be concerned about any time you get into a health situation for example. Could create that kind of surprise. But I must say right now just given the basic fundamentals of the election the dynamics that are at work economy and the fact that we're prosperous and it's going to be very difficult for Walter Mondale no matter how great of a campaign he runs over the next three weeks to close that gap Leon Panetta How important is the 21st debate the debate coming up on the 21st.
Mainstreaming in Oregon I think it's it's going to be very decisive as a matter of fact because we do have momentum going now. The Democrats are raising money. We have people that are organizing rallies that are very excited about doing it something that we had a tough time doing a few weeks ago. So there is momentum there and I think the momentum continues after tonight because there's a reassurance there. I think it does and strictly in the public's mind at the 21st debate. If it's anything like the first debate. I think you could see a tremendous volatility turning towards the Democratic ticket. Well you're very.
Yeah this is this is a real test for already I mean this is this is his weak spot since he first ran for president. David would tell you in the polls that foreign policy has not been your strong area. It's a debate in which Mondale has a match up between because he's going to be asked questions in dealing with questions on the national interest now he did this in this debate Sunday night.
I think that was the uniqueness he didn't follow the politics of getting up in there and mentioning what he was going to do for 14 different groups except for the farm which is from Minnesota you got to give him the farmers but other than that he didn't go down a list so you don't do that in foreign policy I don't think he's going to go down there to do this for the Greeks and Turks in Israel and so what. So he's good.
I'm just going to have to separate. Yeah you got me there and they got married.
We're going to be discussing national issues and I know in an area in which people are if and as to the age issue I want to just say one thing. He will decide that when they see him they won't need the Wall Street Journal I.D. that's going to be decision the average person to make when they look at Reagan on TV and there is nothing anybody can do about it and you're not nervous at all David Gergen.
I think what most was striking about tonight a lot of the a lot of assumptions in Washington that they will hold the high ground on the foreign policy debate and debate it if this is the shots the Democrats are taking on foreign policy and George Bush did as well as he did on foreign policy I think that there are Republicans going look forward to that foreign policy debate with a lot more confidence.
Dylan thank you for all of that concludes this special edition of the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour join us tomorrow evening for our regular program when we'll continue to report on the impact of tonight's debate. And on Sunday October 21st will be back on many of these PBS stations for another special edition. When President Reagan and Walter Mondale have their second close encounter thank you for joining us. I'm Robert MacNeil. Good night.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- Debate 1984, Vice President
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- George W. Bush and Geraldine Ferraro, Philadelphia, PA, Credit: MacNeil/Lehrer, Reel 2, Rec. Engr. T8, VCR 8, 30:00+, Transfer date: 2-10-86, UCA-60
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- Chicago: “Debate 1984, Vice President; George Bush And Geraldine Ferraro,” 1984-00-00, Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_37-66vx0twz.
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- APA: Debate 1984, Vice President; George Bush And Geraldine Ferraro. Boston, MA: Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_37-66vx0twz