thumbnail of 2000 Missouri Senatorial Election Debate: Carnahan vs Ashcroft
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Yes. This program is brought to you in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Live from historic Jim B of the Missouri Senate debate. Hello good evening and welcome to the gem theatre in the heart of Kansas City's jazz district I'm nicknames of KCET. Kansas City Public Television in just a few moments you will meet the candidates for the United States Senate in Missouri and that only televised debate of this campaign as it's your vote that will decide who is high it is Missouri senator on November 7th. We thought it would be appropriate that all of the questions come from you the citizens of Missouri with us tonight. We have people from all walks of life some of whom are still undecided about
their election choices. Others say they are so disenchanted with politics they may not vote at all. You will be listening to those in just a few moments. But first I'd like to introduce you to my co-moderated tonight Dave Helling of the CBS affiliate in Kansas City. Hey CTV fine. Thank you Nick and good evening to everyone it is my pleasure to be here with you this evening and with all the people in the audience and of course the candidates as we listened to this very very important discussion of the issues our people have asked us if the candidates actually know in advance what our questions are going to be tonight and the answer to that is absolutely not. They have no idea. The only other real rule is that each candidate will have 90 seconds to answer our citizen questions in an alternating format and 30 seconds each for rebuttal. And those are about the only ground rules with that in mind let's meet the two candidates with the United States Senate from Missouri. Thank you very much. Come on have a seat. Before we begin the questions let me introduce
the candidates the Democratic nominee is Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan. He is wrapping up his second term in that office. Governor Carnahan previously served in the Missouri House of Representatives. He is a former state treasurer and lieutenant governor. He has been while the Republican nominee is incumbent United States Senate for John Ashcroft served two terms as Missouri governor before being elected to Washington in 1994. He is a former state auditor and Attorney General. Senator Ashcroft is from Springfield Missouri. Gentlemen welcome to Kansas City and you've been gracious enough to agree to dispose of all opening and closing statements tonight so we can hear more of the questions from the citizens of Missouri. The first question comes from Richard zürich who is a school bus driver from Independence. I keep hearing ads in election coverage on that for what they're trying to reach Republicans reach out Democrats and reach the independents and
the undecided. And I am part of a demographic that's probably larger than all of those together and I'm a non-voter and they have been for the last few elections and I've I've come to that conclusion that it doesn't do any good to vote because what whoever wins we seem to get messed up anyway. I mean that's that's that's a very common sentiment. I am a registered voter and I would like a reason to become a voter and you give me three reasons why I should vote for you. Senator Ashcroft Well first of all thank you for the question and thanks to Casey PTV and thanks to the League of Women Voters and to all of you for expressing an interest. I'm grateful for this inquiry. It's important to us. We do need to inspire broader participation. Democracy is the business of free people exercising that freedom to make good decisions. And to that end I think we need a debate worthy of the people of Missouri. So I want you to know that in this debate I'll respect my opponent. I'll
call him Governor Carnahan because I respect him and his office. I won't interrupt him. I may challenge some of his positions but I won't have personal attacks. We need I think we want to bring more people into the process. We need to have a process that's worthy of a great Mazher of values and inspiration. It's Missouri values that I took to Washington D.C. to do some things that I think were very important. And I think things that are important to you and your family and to the families with whom you live. When I went to Washington in 1994 we had a horrendous debt. We decided to pay down debt. I went to Washington we needed not only to pay down the debt we needed to balance the budget we needed to protect Social Security and we've done that. And my plan for the next term is to build on that prosperity which we enjoying for the future. I have a 200 billion dollar trust fund for classrooms. I'll continue to protect Social Security. We'll pay off the publicly held debt of the United States of America in the next decade.
That's very important and we'll have taxes that reflect the values of the people of Missouri. I think those are important things as well. Thank you Richard for that question. And thank you again to the public television and for all of you for participating in this very important debate. It has been a pleasure to serve as your governor. And we've accomplished a lot. And all families I believe are better off. Richard that gets back to your question about whether it matters who you vote for. Because we have made remarkable progress in the last eight years. We have families have more income. Unemployment is down. Education students scores are up. And violent crime is down. And so we believe that there is a lot more yet to do. And that's why I want to go to the Senate my priority there would be to protect Social Security first with the surplus and Medicare but a
prescription drug benefit in Medicare. Yes I agree with my opponent. We would pay down the national debt only I put it in a higher priority and then we'd give tax cuts to middle income people. That's where I think that tax cuts ought to be. My opponent has proposed a four trillion dollar tax cut that would make all those things impossible. It would use Social Security. It would cut Medicare and it would make it impossible to make improvements to education. So to answer your question I would protect Social Security first. I would support a prescription drug benefit under Medicare and I would pass a real patients bill of rights. And if we had had a person in the Senate now who believed that we'd have those protections today. Thank you Governor Carnahan. Mr. Zoellick did they answer your question. I guess I guess my disenchantment with the elections coverage here is probably with all due respect with some of what I just heard now. I mean a man I'm an average working person and I struggle you know you struggle with mortgages you struggle with the car payment you
struggle with this that medical bills. And when you pass legislation or anything up on this level I'd kind of be down to my level. We're screwed. With all due respect and that's what I want to hear. You know I hear what you say but I would I'd rather hear it in different terms easier terms easier understood terms. You still have another 30 seconds Senator Ashcroft if you can still satisfy this one citizen of Missouri. Well I sure hope that by addressing your needs as a tax payer for instance giving you more money to spend on your own instead of having government spend for you. That would be important to you sending school resources back to the local district instead of cents sending those resources to the bureaucracy in Washington. I think people who know the names of the students and the needs of the school can make better decisions than bureaucrats can. I would think that paying down the debt so that in the future. So much of government isn't consumed in making interest payments. So you can be relieved of the cost of government. I
hope those things are important to you and I believe they are to every family working families in particular. You very much covering it on venture to put it in terms of right where people live during the time that I have been governor we have worked to be sure that we keep more of the money and persons in Missouri on average have $4000 more disposable income after taxes than they did eight years before. I want to help with the Patients Bill of Rights so that when you have medical problems you and your doctor can make those decisions. And yes I will emphasize middle income tax cuts as opposed to tax cuts for the very wealthy that some would some would propose. Thank you. Next question for Governor Carnahan governor of Brenda Collins works in a local hospital and of course question you and some rational. Well yes. My concern is with the female working poor. Recently there was a study that was published here in Kansas City that show that these family females left welfare and went to work but the wages that they were faced with only averaged out to
five and six dollars per hour. They have families they have bills to deal with. They have transportation needs and they also have childcare. These wages are not livable wages. I would like to know how you could assist these women to become economically self-sufficient because this was the purpose of the Welfare Reform Act. It did decrease the government assistance for them which means they moved on. Right now they still are in need of cash assistance. And they are having a very hard time. I'd like to know how you can assist them to become economically self-sufficient. Governor Rendell that's a very good question and I think that we are aware that women generally do not receive wages on a par with men and I favor requiring the payment of women the same as we pay men. I think that's a form of discrimination that I'm opposed to and I favor measures that move us in that direction. And I have led state government in that direction as well. We have employed more women at higher levels both the middle income and high income and we work to do that because
we're trying to solve the inequity. And so in many ways we work on it. The other is that I favor the raising of the minimum wage. That's a place where my opponent and I differ. I favor raising that minimum wage. He does not that and several other steps along that line will be what will help us to really get the equity where it ought to be. Senator. The key to making a salary that will be survivable and I think that's the really important thing you're talking about not too long ago I had the privilege of working alongside some folks in the faultless laundry here because one of the things I do when I returned from Washington is take a job to get an idea of how people are doing. And I think education is key here. And when we provide more resources for training and we provide better fundamental resources for education that's when people have the ability to work their way up. When I talk to the employers and the people that I was working with him for this they told me they had quite a bit of turnover and we hit when we had velocity in the economy people could
come in at a beginning position and then move up the ladder. I think we have the right kind of educational support for individuals wanting to move up the ladder. That's where we make the difference. And I think that's the key to the right kind of help with child care the right kind of help with education so that these people very frequently talented individuals who need just a little bump in terms of their own capacity. Those are very important things. So the education thing is very important training thing the kind of mobility the right component of childcare in the equation that's very important. Helping people with health care as they move from welfare to work has also been an important thing because sometimes when you figure the entire package of benefits that people get they had a bigger or better package on welfare than they had in the employment situation. But our ultimately our effort has to be to move those people from welfare to work. I think we all agree on that. And it's especially important for the children because we need them to be children of working families trained in work rather than trained and dependence.
Senator thank you Brenda that that address obviously you have some concerns about how welfare reform has worked. Is that accurate. The answer you wanted to hear or would you like not necessarily because these are answers that this has already reached the point where you are talking about right now the people that I'm talking about would like to go to the educational courses they would like to obtain the training. But their problem lies within their transportation because they've left welfare and went to work and because of these minimum wages they are not able to afford childcare they cannot afford adequate transportation. Most of them are preyed upon by the finance agencies here with the second chance and not to say anything against them when but that's where they go and the means of transportation are almost broken down they have a very hard time getting to and from. We need to address that issue. I'd like to know how you would address that. They need assistance with this. They really need to get this they want the training they want the education. Thanks Governor. Thirty seconds to talk about the working poor. Brenda your concerns I do understand and as we did welfare reform in Missouri we made sure that it was not some painful thing but
we did it in a way that was constructive. And we did provide training. We did provide childcare. We did provide medical care and we did provide transportation. Now none of those I hear you loud and clear none of those are adequate. But we are moving in that direction. We did not do a punitive welfare reform and we need more training if you like to get a better job and to move on up and to have better services in these other category. Thank you Senator 30 seconds. I think we're on the right track here. One of the kids in welfare reform at the federal level was to leave states and local communities with the ability to deploy or as assigned resources to get the job done with what's needed when the federal government had been dictating the entire process some time ago they were specifying that it had to be this way or that way and lot of the flexibility that was appropriate and a lot of states have made a lot of progress reducing roles substantially because they've had the flexibility to say our need here is in transportation.
Let's get the transportation done or our need here is in training. Let's focus on training. Thank you sir. We go now to Julie Skidmore who's a Kansas City area musician. Hey everybody's talking about welfare reform and everything but taking it one step further in more general terms since this is being held at the historic gym theater which has always featured black entertainers black music stricken black musicians but once had a segregated audience. Both of you have been governor. What have each of you done to support race relations promote hire promote a point and support African-Americans and other minorities while you were a governor. We begin with Senator Ashcroft. I'm delighted. Thank you. I think you really touched an important issue in our culture that the word community is a word that ends in the word unity. The last five letters of the most important of that and building a sense of community is what America is all
about. While I was governor I had a number of privileges and among those to do things that would support the integration of our community and also the development of unity in the community. I was the governor that signed into law the Martin Luther King holiday that had been a sticking point for our legislature. I wanted to be able to do that. I created an award for all students in the state who did well called the George Washington Carver award. I wanted all students to have a role model. That was a role model of color not just the typical role models we had had. I appointed the first black judge to the Western District Court of Appeals. Never before had there been one before I appointed judge Gaitan to this court. He was then soon elevated to the United States District Court. So those are the kinds of things that I wanted to do and to have an opportunity to do. I think education is an important thing and when Lincoln University was on the rocks financially and people in the legislature were considering shutting it down and you all know about Lincoln
University it was a university started in Jefferson City with civil war veterans a historically black school with a great heritage. We shouldn't lose in the state. I went to bat and kept that university open. I think we need to make sure that we give people equal opportunity and that we make sure everyone knows about the opportunity so that we're aggressive in making sure that when there are jobs or other things that are available everyone participates with an equal shot. Thank you Senator Ashcroft Governor Carnahan. Joe that name Joe is a very good question about what we've done and what is our commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is a code of mine that we work toward that it's a goal that we must do a lot better. And my appointments and employments as governor I have reached out to include many many more minorities and women and we've raised the ratios considerably. We also have worked on some other issues. We've passed in Missouri a hate crimes law because we
thought that it was very very improper to have these things that were directed to because of someone's race or the color of the skin. And if that crime is committed in that way that would be an extra penalty. There is a bill pending in the Congress along this line and I support that bill. My opponent opposes it. We also passed a racial profiling bill. Very because we think that it is just absolutely a harm that someone would be hassled or stop for no reason except for their ethnicity the color of their skin. And we passed a very good racial profiling bill in Missouri. One has a reporting requirement that helps us take care of the problem by getting training to police officers and others who deal with these issues. There is a bill like that pending in Congress as well. And I favor enactment and you can ask my opponent what his position is on that and he has that opportunity right now. Senator Ashcroft you know I'm delighted to have the opportunity I think for anybody
to be singled out based on race is simply wrong. I'm pleased that the governor signed up hate crimes bill in the state of Missouri because when I was governor I signed the first hate crimes bill that we had in the state of Missouri and we've all been working to try and eliminate these kinds of things. I just would mention in the ten seconds that are left when I introduce my wife Janet she's with me here. She teaches school I used to teach school. She teaches at Howard University one of the great traditionally black research institutions of America and is taught there for the last five years our family has been working hard to build bridges and we will continue to do so. Thank you Senator Ashcroft and governor kind how would you like to introduce your wife in these 30 seconds. I like being my daughter Robin and my son Randy are here and a good part of my good family support. Thank you. My wife is watching home tonight I hope. I hope we'll get back to the questions in just a minute gentlemen but
first we want to. We've gone out into the community as well to try and get some comments throughout the year in our partnership with channel 19 to try and reach the voters who may be undecided a little upset with the process we call it speaker's corner and we're going to play a tape for you. Now Governor Carnahan you'll have the first question so you feel it will be on the monitor and we can add that both candidates can address your speakers. I would like the candidates to see that every American in any way would have health care coverage because it really created a problem uniting. Well you don't have to carry a gun that you cannot see your doctor. You have to go to the places that you can in fact changing. I have seen that the doctor can go and it really is going to be great. You know here pretty much everyone health care coverage. Governor Well I be happy to comment on Ms freeze.
Bastian and her desire for health care coverage. I think we all want to move toward a day when everyone will have health care coverage. I'm pleased to tell you that we are one of the few states in Missouri that has reached out and is covering more people with health care coverage than were before. There are very few states that are gaining in this area. Now we still have a long way to go. The reason we gain because we implemented the Children's Health Initiative Program and a very aggressive manner. And we have covered over 90000 uninsured children because we reached them. The number of injured killed people in Missouri is at an all time high. And also an all time offended and it is gaining. But that's not enough. We've also got to reach out to try to get other population and get them covered with health care. It's very important to do children but we've got to get others as well. And I will be on that issue. And I go to the United States Senate. It's something that
I care deeply about and it's an area where I know and this prosperous country that we have we can do a better job of providing health care and we're now doing Senator. Well I would commend the governor for what he's done in the children's health. Arena and the children's health care program. When we passed the legislation through the Congress we were going to rely on people who would take an aggressive approach to get this done. And I think Governor Carnahan deserves our thanks because Missouri has been one of the leaders and recognized nationally for taking what we did in the Congress and voted to provide for states and implementing in the state. And so I would say that that's an important thing we do need for people to have the right kind of health care and to be able to get it and get it fairly. That's one of the reasons I joined with John McCain and Democrats and Republicans in a patients bill of rights to make sure that people are treated fairly and that if HMO
abuse individuals they have a right not only to health care but to recover for damages. I'm pleased that the American Medical Association has endorsed that measure which we have joined together to work on. And I think for people who need health care they need to be able to get it. And when they get it they ought to be treated fairly and making sure that they have that opportunity. I would add that I think it's time for our government to say to people if you are making payments for health care that you can deduct those from your from your taxes. Right now we've got this whole system skewed toward If you don't have a job or if your employer is not providing for it you get taxed first on the money and then you have to pay for your health care. Let's make health care tax deductible. Make it tax free so we can give more people the opportunity to enjoy the kind of coverage that all of us believe that we all need. GOVERNOR Well I also would support a patients bill of rights and we have a lot of credibility in Missouri because we passed a strong bill. But when my opponent had the opportunity to vote for a bill he voted no
the bill that he voted for was one that the American Medical Association called a sham. Many of us say it was the eighth You know Bill of Rights. It was the one that protected them not patients. So we really should get at this business. We need a patients bill of rights. We need to get to some reform but we need a real one that will really serve the interests of patients. Senator I'm pleased that the A.M.A. on its own motion last week took out a three quarter page at St. Louis Post Dispatch and said We commend Senator Ashcroft as a courageous senator who was willing to stand up to the HMO and didn't negotiate a patients bill of rights that the A.M.A. says is in the interest of patients. When the A.M.A. simply said that Senator Ashcroft has put patients above politics and has put patients above the insurance companies I was grateful for that endorsement and I'm pleased to be a part of the measure which they have endorsed and said that we ought to pass.
Senator thank you. Next question for you and again what you Speaker's Corner watch your monitor for the question from a member of the electorate. I'm concerned about the candidates. Bad mouthing what they say when they're going to do it they don't really do. I think it's about time that they. Got their ducks started doing what they promised. We chuckle of course because it's a very serious statement is it not Senator. You know I watch TV ads for a living as a reporter and the concern and sometimes discussed among members of the electorate is really profound about how these exchanges take place. What can you and your opponent do about. Well you know frankly I bet you all felt that way at least once or twice. And you won't admit it you probably. Well I mean I'll go with it. He said two things he made a comment about campaigning and said get off our duffs and do what we promised to do. And I listened carefully and I think that's good advice. That's one of the reasons I haven't been happy with the tone of
this campaign so I've tried to elevate it and say that I want to treat my opponent with respect. And I think we ought to be you know we ought to be able to talk about our positions. We ought to be able to talk with facts about one thing or another but we should treat each other with dignity and respect. I think the people deserve what the people deserve for us to do what we said we would do and if you could run my commercials from 1994 there would be three main themes in those commercials. The first was balance the budget before we could do a lot of the other things we needed to do in our household. We needed to get the budget under control. That's like at home. Secondly we need to begin to pay down the debt instead of going deeper into debt just like you do at home. Thirdly we need to be able to begin to correct the welfare system. But last but not least stop spending the Social Security surplus that would jeopardize not only that future retirement but the health care of individuals. I'm pleased to tell you we've balanced the budget. We started to pay down the debt instead to go deeper into debt. We're doing it successfully we have stop with the
Ashcroft rule in the Senate is on my motion. We haven't spent a dime of the Social Security surplus since that rule was embraced. These are the kinds of progress we've reformed welfare. I think these are the kinds of things Washington has changed its way of doing business and I think that's really what he was talking. Thank you senator governor. The gentleman just suggested that we're badmouthing each other. This race. Is that accurate and if so what. Well certainly there are a lot of negative ads that I've seen. I had the common experience of meeting people in the campaign. They say you look a lot better than you do on TV. And it's really not much of a compliment because they've been me here this fish land for I've been discarded. And so yes that is taking place and I think that's inappropriate. I think we ought to. I think we ought to focus on the issues. What we've done I think people can tell more from what we've done now what we say in the heat of a political campaign what we promised in that time. And I have
very much tried to get the issues out both about what my record is and we find out what my opponent's record is. And one of those is a matter he talked about Social Security and the questioner said why don't you do something and not just talk about it. My opponent has talked about a lockbox to protect Social Security. A good idea. A very good idea. But he's also proposed a four trillion dollar tax cut that spends the Social Security trust fund. So there's no money in the lockbox. It's as though he's drilled a hole in the back and he has a lockbox with no money in it. So that's the difference and that's what this question or thought that he's talking about the fact that we shouldn't talk about a lockbox isn't going to protect it forever when there are other proposals that take all the money out. And so the lockbox is not as secure as he would have you said. Thank you Governor. Thirty seconds Senator to address that or other issues on campaign of course. I am the author of the lockbox and the Senate. It's been embraced by the president of the United
States. The vice president of the United States Senate and the house. It is the mechanism by which we have protected every dime of the Social Security surplus for the last couple of years. And if the governor of Missouri doesn't support that lockbox he's kind of rare because this is a concept which is generally accepted in the country now. And my plan for the next term is not to do anything to infringe Social Security in any way. And I have never proposed any plan that would infringe the security of Social Security. Thank you Senator. Governor 30 seconds sir if you choose. Well in a press conference a couple of years ago when there was only a Social Security Trust surplus on Social Security. My opponent proposed tax cuts for the wealthy spending all the Social Security money and do with challenge in the press conference to say but then why shouldn't we say feel for security with this sir. He said my priority tax cuts will do Social Security some other way.
So he has proposed spending the Social Security trust fund with his new beginnings by then and even when found in a press conference that was his position. Governor thank you. Our next question comes from Patricia Shelby who's the sales manager. Thank you. I have put two children currently my baby son is a junior in the Kansas City Missouri school district. My oldest son I left the district several years ago. It has been a complete nightmare. It's a local level and I know it's a local problem but I know that the issue of vouchers is something that could probably be discussed at a national level. And I'd like to find out if not for myself before some of my nieces and nephews that are going to be the future students I'd like to find out what your views are on the vouchers. Let's start with Governor Conahan. It's a very good question and I sympathize with you and the difficulties that you've had with your children in school.
Senator has worked with the problem when he was governor and I worked with the problem from the state level when I was governor as well. And I set out immediately to to solve the lawsuit and get back to local control get back the standard for many years. These schools are run under a federal court order with no standards of performance. And that's what you've suffered under. That's what you want out from and that's what people want out from under. And we have now got them back where they're under local control and we have the state standard and we're judging them and by the way they're not coming out very well on the judgment. But I don't think any of these deaths now got bad. We just now have the standards and the judgment. So but I do not approve of vouchers. I have approved a charter schools under public supervision and we have those available in Kansas City and St. Louis with these big Worthy's big lofty resettle. But I think we're on the way to turning it around so we can get quality education. We've got to have policies to have every place and in particular we've got to have quality
schools in Kansas City St. Louis. And I think by having standards knowing what we have to do to bring them up I think we're on the way. I do not approve of vouchers. I think that divert money from public schools that would permit a few to go to a private school but would not increase the quality of public education. Senator Ashcroft. We have about 80000 students trapped in failing schools in Missouri. We have the third highest number of failing schools of any state in the nation. And my heart goes out to students that are asked to succeed when the school is failing. It be like asking a sailor to swim with the ship we're sinking. It's very difficult. And we need to do everything we can to help schools. That's one of the reasons I've said that I want to take 11 percent of the surplus at the national level. Two hundred billion dollars over a 10 year period and send it back to schools and schools that are failing. I want to require that they spend that on basics
recruiting retaining and rewarding the best teachers and then providing incentives to students so they have an incentive to get an extra big college scholarship called the Pell Grant. I think that's the way for us to approach this. We really need to make sure that we do what's right now. Should you have vouchers or shouldn't you. What I will say is the federal government has no business telling states whether or not they should have vouchers. We don't need bureaucrats in Washington saying the people in Missouri you should have a voucher system. That's a decision that ought to be reserved to people at the state level to make that decision. How are we going to best have education. You know when I was governor we passed the Excellence in Education Act with the first statewide test that could be compared one district to another and then we moved on to additional measurements. And you really do need to know how the district is doing compared to other districts. Someone said The worst thing would be if you learned that your child was in a failing district. Well it would be terrible if you didn't work and your child was in a failing district. So we've got a lot of work to do.
Thank you Senator Ashcroft. Are you satisfied with the answers. Yes I am very Sens. Governor Carnahan Well you have 30 seconds for a summary if you so wish. Well I'm pleased that the senator has a plan for federal funds to help local schools because I have a plan and I want to be sure that we take a new commitment to improving classroom instruction and then we want the federal government to help to help the local school district even though in the past my opponent has voted against the appropriations for public education. Every time he voted when he was in the Senate till after I was in the race against him. And so I think and and on vouchers. He says he doesn't want to take a position but he voted for vouchers for the District of Columbia something Congress. Senator Ashcroft I'm very pleased that when we look at the surplus that we have the ability to take a pretty substantial sum 200 billion dollars over a 10 year period and direct it through local schools to help them
achieve. That's very very important. Now I'm committed to taking a pretty substantial sum. The governor has made it a suggestion that it be $50 billion dollars that would help in the local schools. I want 200 billion dollars that goes to local schools. So when people who know the needs of the school the names of the students they can decide do we do or class sizes do we enhance teacher quality in some way. Do we need additional laboratory equipment local decisions to improve and upgrade what happens to students in classroom. Thank you Senator Ashcroft. Day with Bobby Campbell with the next question it goes to Senator Ashcroft Bobbie. Yes. The American people have no end. And the one man one vote system it seems that corporations and special interests pay for everything including our politicians and the laws that have passed. I agree. I would like to know the candidates of Missouri whether I allow voluntary
voluntary money from the mass of funds that you have to be to receive if they would limit that to receive Medicaid here in order to cure your campaign. What do you think of proposition the senator about a ten million dollar race. This one is talk a little bit about campaign finance. Well I'm in favor of campaign finance reform. There are a number of things that we ought to do. I think we ought to have immediate and total disclosure when gifts are received by individuals. We ought to make sure there are foreign contributions in the race and we shouldn't have any contributions made to political campaigns that aren't voluntary. I want to go directly. And of course I believe that one of the things we need to do to promote the independence of candidates is to do with the people of Missouri have asked for and that's termly. So I've committed that I would not serve more than two terms in the United States Senate if the people of Missouri give me the
opportunity and I don't want to presume on their votes. I hope to have the opportunity for a second term. Now I really believe that for us to take tax dollars and run political campaigns with tax dollars is to make unwilling contributors out of the hardworking people of the country. And I'm not in favor of saying the people don't approve of either of the candidates whether you approve of these candidates or not. We're going to take money that you would otherwise have to spend on your family. And we're going to give it to them so they can buy TV ads that make you mad or whatever else take it. So I don't favor a system of public finance. I do favor campaign reform. I favor term limits. I favor immediate disclosure of all contributions and that's something we can certainly do with the Internet. Now as a matter of fact most candidates know this information as soon as it happens because we have to keep our records on computers and our ability to put that up posted on the net for example would at least give full disclosure and show the show that disclosure
to everybody. All right. Senator thank you Governor. Lot of money in this race. A billion dollars in TV ads across the country. What can we do to limit that. Bobby a very good question. And there is too much money spent in the campaigns and we need to reduce the influence of money on these campaigns and that's what you're getting at entirely. We do need campaign finance reform and I support the McCain-Feingold bill at the federal level. My opponent does not support that. And that would do many things but one thing it would do is ban the so-called soft money. That's a loophole where corporations and individuals can give to committees not for direct campaign committee but one right beside it. Unlimited amounts of money and it pays for a lot of the ads that you see. I wanted to ban soft money in our campaign. We could have done it in our campaign and I challenge my opponent less so we don't have to pass a law. We could just agree that soft money will be out of this particular U.S. Senate race. And my opponent would not agree did not want to even
discuss it. As to Proposition B I have some difficulty with the way it is written because it is financed with a tax that I guess cut it with one of the tax cuts that we cut. We've got three hundred eleven million dollars of taxes. And it is financed by means that I did not approve. But I do approve a system where are we with that voluntary contributions go into a fund the fund would be available to candidates. And if you took the money you would be limited in how much you can spend. Bobby your reaction to what you heard there obviously concern you. Yes it is. I mean it's the old thing that both of them want campaign big campaign expenditures from corporations and whatnot. It's a lot of corporations in both of those races. Yes. Senator 30 seconds rebuttal. I certainly have some of that kind of money being spent for me not as much as my opponent has had spent in his behalf.
But the point that I would from Barclays what that I would make is that soft money is right now of people to spend and they can spend it. Whether you agree to ban it or not. And so it is a right that people have to express themselves in our society. So they say that I could make an agreement with someone and forbid soft money. I can't make an agreement that keeps you from talking about the campaign or anyone else. Now we might pass a law to that effect. And with the right balance in the law I'm for it. But I tell you what an agreement simply just is not something I have the authority. GOVERNOR Well I think we hear some amazing things in these days and these debates. But we clearly could have agreed not to have soft money in our campaign no question about it. It's a loophole in the federal law and we could have agreed not to use it. Now he's talking about easing confusing and independent expenditures. That's something different. We talk this lingo that every layperson doesn't talk but the soft
money that in these committees that is helping us in our campaigns running these commercials we could have absolutely stopped that by an agreement between the two. I think for Hillary and as we know they did it in New York. Thank you Governor. Next our next question comes from Jim Aldrich who is a retired limousine driver. JIM Yes gentlemen you've been on the campaign trail for some time now and you've been answering a number in what I would like you to consider is what's really burning. What can each of you would like to ask of the other and then take turns maybe you could flip a coin or arm wrestle. Well Governor Counihan would have answered this question first Would you like Governor Carnahan to offer a burning question you've always wanted to ask of Senator Ashcroft figuring out which one they mean besides the fisheye lens picture.
I guess that's what you're talking about. Well I I I would like to know how the senator would propose to do it for a trillion dollar tax cut and not spend Social Security money and not have a 417 billion dollar cut in Medicare which is in the fine print plan and how after he did that there would be any room to do anything for education do anything for prescription drugs. Senator Ashcroft you have 90 seconds to do all that you know is. Am I supposed to answer his question or tell about the burning question I have for him. Do you have you have to answer that question for 90 seconds and you get your knowledge and cross-examining him. You know the four billion dollar for trillion dollar tax program is not a current program. It's not my plan for my next term in the Senate. Let me tell you what my next term's plan is for the Senate. It's a 200 billion dollar trust fund for classroom's money not to be spent in bureaucracies in Washington money not to be spent bureaucracies in Jefferson City or the
school district go to a classroom. Number two is to secure Social Security and Medicare. I am the author of The Social Security lockbox. It's a durable lockbox not one dime of Social Security has been spent since the Ashcroft plan was adopted and I was delighted when Vice President Gore embraced the Medicare lockbox this June I had proposed it last November and when he and the president put their arms around it we passed it through the Senate right away. I want to pay down the debt the national debt publicly held debt of this country should be paid off in the next decade. That's important for us to do. And some tax relief like abandoning the marriage penalty and the tax code. I see no reason why if the if the librarian and the deputy sheriff want to get married they shouldn't have to pay 14 or 15 years $8500 a year more just because they're married. Now I was twice the sponsor of legislation that would do away with the marriage penalty in the tax law. The president of the United States vetoed it because he wanted to spend the
money instead of give it back to people. And unfortunately Governor Carnahan supported that veto. I think it's time for us to say that marriage is not only OK but it's something we want to support in this culture. Senator Ashcroft you do have that opportunity to ask any question would you like to avail yourself of that opportunity. No I don't think I want to cross-examine my opponent. I think we we know where he stands on the issues. And I think a good debate is fair but I'm not interested in interrogate. Do you have any more response to that Governor Carnahan. Before we move on northbound. David thank you very much. I'm standing over here now with Roger Hiatt. Roger you have a question for Senator Ashcroft Yes we live. My question pertains to our role in the world rather than to the domestic issues. We've spoken a lot about saving. We live in an increasingly shrinking and interdependent world where approximately 25 percent of our gross national product depends upon placement of our goods and services in the international marketplace. Of course as a U.S.
senator you play an integral role in the formation of our foreign policy. My specific question deals with the U.S. embargo of Cuba which we've had for approximately 40 years. That any real discernible positive effect. We have we have recently attempted to expand that embargo to punish foreign businesses doing business with Cuba. Again the only discernible effect of that has been a clear statement from our major from our major trading partners that they intend to take punitive measures against our businesses if indeed we take punitive measures against their businesses. My question is this Do you favor continuation of the U.S. embargo of Cuba. If so why. And if you do not favor it what alternative suggestion do you have for dealing with Cuba. Senator Ashcroft thank you very much for the question. This has been a matter of deep concern to me. You say that we really need to export a lot of our productivity. That's
particularly true when it comes to agriculture. You know soybean producers in this country produce twice as many soybeans as we can eat. And I'm eating all of them that I can. And so I have been the sponsor of legislation to end all food and medicine embargoes around the world that the president has unilaterally imposed. It's been an incredible effort to try and get this through. But I think that will vote. And I would predict will vote on Wednesday morning about 11:00 o'clock because I think that's when it's scheduled on the agricultural appropriations bill to end food and medicine embargo at least that much of the embargo. At least we should say to the people of the world that the people of the United States do not want you in ill health and we don't want you to be starving. Now your leadership may not be something we approve of but there's no reason for us to say or to give the dictator the ability to say the reason you're hungry and sick is that the U.S. won't sell you these things. So I just
say to you that tune in maybe C-SPAN at 11 o'clock at 10:00 Central Time on Wednesday morning we don't have a vote on the agricultural appropriations bill. And we have renovated the protocols or the regulations for imposing embargoes these embargo guns back fire and we end up with more burn powder on us than we do on the people that are our targets. And it's time for us to say to let that that value and virtue of the American people be known at least as it's related That's Governor Carnahan embargoes as a weapon. Well. I agree with the senator that it's time for us to revisit the food and medicine embargo with Cuba. And I think it's appropriate that we go ahead and I am a big advocate of Missouri agriculture. I've gone on trade missions with people in agriculture around the world to open up markets and we do compete well but we have more than we need. And it's one of those things where we can have the productivity of our state go up by selling those products. And so I would welcome the opportunity to
sell food medicine products to Cuba. Roger your reaction to what you heard anything actually the plea agreement. Let me ask you about other foreign policy issues. We'll go to Senator Ashcroft first. Obviously there's a great deal of turmoil in the Middle East. There's some discussion of continuing trade embargoes in that area. What should this country's position be on the problems there and how can we proceed in just the third year and this is the third I'm afraid. OK. Well the situation in the Middle East is extremely tense. I called ambassador shivaree at the Israeli embassy in Washington just a day ago to confer with him about the situation. And frankly we need to do whatever we can. I commend the president for calling the parties together in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in order to cease the violence to stop the violence and see if we can reacquire some of the goodwill that's necessary to start talking. It's an important part of the world. Israel is the best ally we have virtually in the world our only democratic
ally. We need to stand with them and we need to find a way to avoid very serious bloodshed. Governor I know this isn't a lot of time but 30 seconds to talk about the Middle East. Well I commend the president on getting involved because we need the strongest nation in the world needs to be working in that area to get the people to put out the fire and to stem the violence and get back to the peace process that we had been sponsoring. And so it's very important that we move forward on that. Of course our hearts go out to these sailors who were killed on the you ss hone that is something where we have to find who did that. And we have to respond very vigorously. Thank you gentlemen. Nick Our next question comes from Beth Dale who is a full time student at the University of Missouri Kansas City. OK my question is in November whoever is elected president in their term of office will have the opportunity to nominate either one to three Supreme Court justices. And as a senator it's your job to prove these nominees. Now with their stance on abortion affect the way you would about for
their approval of him. Yes that's a very important aspect of this presidential election. And also who is in the Senate will affect that as well. Because there is a confirmation process for judges on the Supreme Court. I would not have a litmus test for who would go on Supreme Court but I and I've heard my opponents say the same thing. But he also talks about the fact that he had to be strict construction of the Constitution. And I think he is by code word saying that indeed he would be wanting justice Scalia. And I think that he really does want some justices that would change the Constitution and the way it's interpreted. I believe there is a right to choose for a woman in the Constitution. And I would hope that that would remain there. And I think my opponent is very much wanting to take that down by referring to appointing justices and approving justices like
Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Senator Ashcroft. Well you're right about the fact that Supreme Court is a very important thing and I think it's a minimum of one to three. We could have even more than that. But I it's hard to think that it's possible that the next president. Of course presidents frequently go for two terms so it's a very important decision. I appreciate the question and there's an extent to which Governor Carnahan has described my position. I don't have a litmus test on specific issues but I want people who respect the Constitution and you see I don't believe that the Constitution has to be amended any time five guys on the Supreme Court and I say guys generically women or men together get in their black robes and walk into the back room. I think there is a provision in the Constitution that says how we amend it. And so I don't want judges who are legislators. I want judges who are judicial and who interpret the Constitution but don't amend who interpret the laws but don't amend the laws.
And I think that's very important. My own view is that we ought to have the ability to amend the Constitution as a people. That's what the Constitution itself provides. But the idea somehow that judges are authorized on our behalf in a mini legislature where five people control and there's no veto by the president and no ability for anyone to challenge that to change our laws. Instead of interpret our laws. That's an idea whose time has passed. It's time for us to be focused on an interpretation of the Constitution with respect Governor CONAGHAN. Well I think that the answer that you received is a pretty good indication that in fact Senator wants judges who will amend the Constitution by making a different decision and Roe versus Wade. And I don't think that's the proper approach. I think we ought to out. You can be a living document. It is interpreted has been interpreted by the court. And I want jurists who understand their place on the Supreme Court.
And what we really need in our Constitution says Ashleigh this is a really clear difference between us because once you say that the judge is this is a living document just let it grow anywhere you want to let it grow your tender of the idea here. So if you want to train it over this way to favor some people are trained it over that way to favor other people. You're free to do so. The Constitution is the lastic stretchable it's living. Just do what you want. I don't. I reject that notion. I think the American people are intelligent enough to be guardians of the rights that they approve of and that they don't have to be told by five people that the Constitution can be amended by the people but not by five people who are in charge of changing the fundamental structure of American government. Not safe. ASHCROFT Thank you. Unfortunately it is on that difference of opinion on issues that we have to close our conversation. I very much appreciate Governor Carnahan and Senator Ashcroft your civility in this program
tonight. Go ahead. You. Ask me is a. Question. I'm going to tell you later. On
2000 Missouri Senatorial Election Debate: Carnahan vs Ashcroft
Producing Organization
Contributing Organization
KCPT (Kansas City, Missouri)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/384-34fn33pk).
This is the recording of the live broadcast of the 2000 Missouri Senate Debate held at the historic Gem Theater in Kansas City. The participants are incumbent John Ashcroft of The Republican Party and Governor Mel Carnahan of The Democratic Party. The candidates take questions directly from selected audience members. There are no opening remarks from the candidates.
Asset type
Social Issues
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Public Affairs
Politics and Government
Copyright 2000 Kansas City Public Television
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Director: Lambi, Kevin
Executive Producer: Haines, Nick
Moderator: Haines, Nick
Moderator: Helling, Dave
Panelist: Ashcroft, John
Panelist: Carnahan, Mel
Producer: Calarco
Producing Organization: KCPT
AAPB Contributor Holdings
KCPT (KCPT Public Television 19)
Identifier: Carnahan VS Ashcroft; Senatorial Debate; Live From the Gem Theatre; 10/15/2000 (KCPT8252)
Format: Betacam
Generation: A-B rolls
Duration: 00:30:00?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “2000 Missouri Senatorial Election Debate: Carnahan vs Ashcroft,” 2000-10-15, KCPT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 21, 2019,
MLA: “2000 Missouri Senatorial Election Debate: Carnahan vs Ashcroft.” 2000-10-15. KCPT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 21, 2019. <>.
APA: 2000 Missouri Senatorial Election Debate: Carnahan vs Ashcroft. Boston, MA: KCPT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from