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Larry King Live
Al and Tipper Gore Discuss Their Politics and PartnershipAired April 20, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Al and Tipper Gore for the full hour. The vice president and his wife. We'll take your calls, too. They're next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Great pleasure to welcome for their umpteenth time a great visit with the vice president and his wife, Al and Tipper Gore.
This is the first anniversary of the Columbine school shooting, that tragedy a year ago today. Al did a forum today on school safety in Fort Lee, New Jersey. We'll talk about that and a whole bunch of other things. We will include your phone calls as well.
First on the most immediate item in the news, Mr. Vice president, and the Elian Gonzalez story. Your position now is what? The father today asked all people to write to the president -- I guess he assumed write to the vice president, write to Janet Reno and others -- that he should be with his child until all court decisions are handed down.
What do you think should happen?
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, my position is the same as it's been for the last five months, Larry. I think the decision on custody ought to be made according to what is in the best interests of the child, and that decision should be made pursuant to due process, the way it is always made in our court system, preferably by a family court, but if not, by people with the expertise and body of experience and judgment to make those decisions.
Actually, I think the best way to resolve this, as I've said previously, would be for the family members to get together, without any lawyers and without any government officials from either country, and let them work it out.
KING: Should the boy be with the father until it is worked out? That's what the father is asking. He'll stay. Should, though, as a father, he be entitled to have his boy until decisions are made?
A. GORE: Well, I think that decision ought to be made according to what is in the boy's best interest. Usually a family court or a decision-maker following those kinds of procedures gives tremendous weight to the views and preferences of a surviving parent, but not always, if there are other factors involved. And due process means that it ought to be a decision that's made according to what is in the best interest of the child. And that's a pretty simple principle, it seems to me, and I think that would be the best way to go about it.
But again, if the family members could get together themselves, as those -- as the Florida relatives have suggested, I think that just kick all the lawyers and the government officials out of the room, and let them talk it through.
KING: You think that might happen?
A. GORE: I hope it will. It's been -- it hasn't happened yet, but I hope it will.
KING: And Tipper, what are your thoughts on this? We've heard from the vice president. What do you think?
TIPPER GORE, WIFE OF AL GORE: Well, I happen to agree with my husband on this issue. I mean, I think it's a difficult one. You know, everyone has an opinion. It's very emotional. But I think that he's been consistent, and he has stated his views on this issue.
KING: All right. Do you think, now, though, the boy should be with the father until these final decisions are made, like tomorrow, which the father asked for today?
T. GORE: Well, I think Al answered that the same way that I would answer that same question. I just hope that it's resolved, and I, too, probably like many Americans and as Al just said, would love to see the family members themselves be able to get together and talk this matter through. And I'm sure they would put the best interests of the boy first.
KING: You think it might work, Al, if maybe the vice president, yourself, or the president proposed a place where one or both of you were there to sort of kick off the meeting as they come together.
The whole world knows about this now. I'm not kidding. Some place of...
A. GORE: No, I don't think, Larry. I think that too many people have been involved in it. I think the family members need to resolve it themselves. I don't think we need more people involved in it.
KING: You don't want Justice, though, to go in and take that boy?
A. GORE: Well, the court decision yesterday gives broad discretion to the attorney general, and she will have to decide how to exercise that discretion, and her decision will have -- have the legal weight behind it.
My own personal recommendation is, as I've said for five months now -- and I didn't say this in Florida in the first instance incidentally; I said it in Iowa a long time ago -- my preference is that the decision be made the way it is almost always in a situation like this in the United States, by a court with expertise in deciding a very simple question: What's in the best interests of the child? And normally, a parent's opinion is often determinative there, but not always.
And if you're looking at the best interests of the child, other factors sometimes come into play. I don't know what evidence has been presented to the court that made a decision yesterday. I just don't know. But that's -- that's my opinion on it.
KING: So if Ms. Reno asked your advice, you would say don't go in and take this boy, let things pan out through the courts?
A. GORE: I would say try to render a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child, according to the kind of due process that is normally used for children in cases like this.
KING: Back now to Columbine. This is the year anniversary. You spoke about school safety. What have we learned in this year, do you think?
A. GORE: I think we've learned that our nation has a pretty impressive capacity to resist simplistic conclusions and simple answers, and I think that the debate in our country has been a healthy one. There are, in fact, a lot of causes for the problems related to school violence, and all of them have to be addressed.
First and foremost, today, all of us think of the family members, of those who lost their lives, and those who have been injured, and those who have suffered in other ways because of the tragedy a year ago, and our hearts go out to them. They remain in our prayers.
You know, Tipper and I went out there just a few days after the tragedy last year and met with the family members, and I spoke at the memorial service. And you know, neither one of us will ever forget meeting with them and embracing them. And one of the -- one of the fathers said into my ear in the middle of an embrace, said "Please promise me that these children will not have died in vain." Then after a short pause, Larry, he repeated with an urgent tone, "Promise me."
And I promised him, as you would have, as anyone would have, and it's the kind of promise that all of us have to keep. And I think that means changing our lives in this country to put children first, and bring meaning and purpose to the lives of all children.
I think that we have to help families find the time for children. I think that we need to address the problem of too much violence in the media. We need better mental-health treatment. We need more guidance counselors and psychologists in school, more teachers and smaller class size. And we also need to limit the availability of guns in our society.
The woman who purchased some of the guns used by the killers in Columbine was reported by "The Denver Post" to have said that if she had been forced to go through a background check, she wouldn't have bought those guns. I think we ought to close the gun show loophole that allows people to evade background checks. I think that we ought to have mandatory child safety trigger locks. I think we ought to restore the three-day waiting period under the Brady law and take other steps to have common-sense restrictions on getting guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.
KING: I've got to get a break. We'll take a break, come back with more on that and lots of other things. We'll ask a mother's thoughts, Tipper's thoughts on does she send her children or grandchildren to school thinking they'll come home that day safe. Shouldn't she have the absolute right to that feeling?
We'll be right back with the Gores. Don't go away.
KING: Tipper, one of the things that Elian Gonzalez's father said that I guess would be hard to argue with, that his boy was safer in a school in Havana than in a school in Miami. He would not be shot in a school in Havana. Good point?
T. GORE: Well, I think that's a bit of a harsh point, particularly right now when our country is still dealing with the effects of school violence. I think that it's important that we all recognize that schools are actually safer than they were, and I think it's important, too, to understand that we have, as an adult society, taken it upon ourselves to listen to kids. We really need to listen, because they will tell us what they need. They tell us they need more mental health care and access to better treatment; that their guidance counselors are performing triage right now; that they're overworked; that there are waiting lists for kids that know they need help.
We need to pay attention to the fact that suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents and the second leading cause of death among those that are college-aged. We ought to listen when kids around this country no matter where they live tell us that they feel that there is less time in their families to talk about things, or to be listened to by caring adults, by their parents.
They don't blame their parents, they say everyone is stressed out. It's hard to balance a working family. They say, my parents may be working two jobs, or my only parent may be working a job. I'm working a job after. But there is still less time to be listened too...
T. GORE: ... and let me tell you one more thing that they have told me that I think is shocking, and that is that guns are available to kids on the Internet. That they can buy them, they can buy parts to guns and put them together, and this frightens the kids themselves.
KING: But you said it's safer today?
T. GORE: I think it's fair to say that the schools in America are safer today, even though the incidents of violence that do happen are horrific and certainly sink into our national consciousness and demand a response from each and every one of us not only at the levels -- the highest levels of government, but from each of us in our communities and in our families, in our neighborhoods.
KING: Al, do you think as president, if you were elected president, you could do any better than President Clinton did with getting more gun laws?
A. GORE: Oh, I think he's done an excellent job on this, Larry.
KING: But you, can you do more?
A. GORE: I hope so. If I'm entrusted with a job, I'll certainly be trying to. We have had the first major new safety measures in a generation. We passed the Brady law, it was a tough fight against the NRA, but actually a lot of NRA members began to change their opinions and say enough is enough. We need to stop this flood of easily accessible guns. I would like to see a closing of that gun show loophole. I'd like to see a photo license I.D. for the purchase of a new handgun with a background check. I'd like to restore the three- day waiting period under the Brady law.
I don't want to see any laws that take guns away from hunters or sportsmen, law-abiding gun owners. Very few people are really proposing that. That's not in prospect. What is in prospect are some common sense restrictions like mandatory child safety trigger locks.
And incidentally, Larry, this is a big issue in this presidential campaign, because my opponent, Governor Bush, has been completely on the other side of every single one of those issues, and it is a big issue. He overturned a 125-year ban on concealed weapons in Texas, and then went back to get another law just to make sure that you could take concealed weapons into churches and synagogues. You know, guns in churches, that's just wrong, it's irresponsible.
KING: But the NRA's position is that you're going to go further, you say you don't want hunters, but eventually you are saying you don't want guns, period?
A. GORE: No, that's just not right and that's a classic argument to try to stop needed progress. But you know, the American people have had it with this flood of cheap guns, and look at the case in Michigan where young Kayla Rolland was killed, a 6-year-old first- grader by a classmate in class. If that doesn't convince you that we need child safety trigger locks on a mandatory basis, what will? Five-year-olds? Four-year-olds? Where do you cross the line?
I just think that we have long since crossed the boundary at which people with common sense say enough is enough. There are many more weapons, many times the weapons now, and they have more firepower. We ought to get these assault weapons out of the hands of people other than soldiers, who use them in war. They don't have any place in our society, on our streets with...
KING: Let me...
A. GORE: You don't hunt deer with an assault weapon or a machine gun. KING: Let me get a break, and we'll be back with more of the Gores. We'll include your phone calls. They are with us for the full hour. We'll touch some other bases. This is the one-year anniversary of Columbine. We'll talk about the campaign as well. Don't go away.
KING: Mr. Vice President, it might interest to you know the Republican National Committee notified people online today to call into this show tonight, because you have not met with the press since February 19th, 61 days ago. The implication being and some people have written this, that you are ducking questions.
What -- why so long between press conferences?
A. GORE: Well, I did, I think, about eight press interviews today. I've done hundreds of them in the last six weeks, and I'll be doing a lot more press conferences. And I'll make you this deal, Larry, if you come out on the campaign trail with me, I will do a press conference every single day that you are on the trail with me.
KING: Every day?
A. GORE: Every day that you are on the trail with me.
KING: And you would call on your opponent to do the same, I would imagine?
A. GORE: Well, I've called upon him to debate me twice a week. I think that we could elevate our democracy by agreeing to eliminate these 30-second TV ads that drive people away from our democracy, and instead just debate twice a week on a different topic each time, every week between now and the election. We could put out a notice of what the subject was in advance and invite the students and community leaders to take part in it over the Internet. And he said that he would not accept, because he's afraid the country would have debate fatigue, but I think people are pretty fatigued with these 30-second negative ads that have really dominated modern campaigning, and I think people are pretty tired of them. I think we ought to get rid of them.
KING: Do you think it was a mistake for you to seemingly break with the administration on the Gonzalez matter? And that's what apparently started all this fuss, when they said you started taking national press conferences and that that was a political error?
A. GORE: No, I certainly don't. First of all, I didn't make the decision on a political basis. I made that decision five months ago, according to what I think are the merits of the case, and I think I'm right about it.
KING: Had nothing to do with the Cuban vote or the fact that you might have a shot at winning Florida?
A. GORE: No it did not. I took that position in the middle of the Iowa caucuses, Larry. And you know, some of the people that criticize my position turn around and say, well, it sure is a mistake politically, because it doesn't help in Florida or anywhere else.
So you know, I'm going to call it as I see it, and I'm going to take what I think is a correct position and stick with it, and that's what I've done.
KING: By the way, you've mentioned debates, when we get into the national debates, should the reform party be included? If Pat Buchanan or say whoever is the nominee of the Reform Party, should there be a three-way debate?
A. GORE: Well, I have a mixed feeling about that. I remember when John McCain -- John and Cindy McCain were on the program, you asked John that question, and he was of two minds about it. You know, it depends on the level of support that they have, whether it would enhance or impede the debate. I have an open mind about it, but I think that we need to know more before the decision -- a decision like that is made.
KING: Tipper, you like all of this? Do you like this campaigning? Do you like the onslaught? Cindy McCain he mentioned her -- got to like it. Do you like it? You've been doing it a long time.
T. GORE: I do like it, I do, because I think it is the heart and soul of what makes this country tick. And I agree with Al, that I think people are curious about debates. They want to know the candidates' positions on issues, and I've enjoyed being able to travel around the country and talk about Al as the man I've known, as the person who's been in public service for some 23 years now and why he's running for president, and why it's important that people vote, and be a part of their community and be part of making democracy be vibrant and alive. Yes, it's a great privilege.
KING: Any area you disagree with Al?
T. GORE: No, you know, we are in complete agreement about absolutely everything.
KING: Come on, Tipper.
T. GORE: Just like every married couple, right?
KING: We'll be back, and see if that continues through the commercial break. We'll be including phone calls as well.
Don't go away. We'll be right back with the Gores.
KING: Mr. Vice president, is character, Lewinsky -- is that a fair issue in this campaign?
A. GORE: Well, I think character is always a dominant issue, because the American people want to vote for someone as president who reflects their values and who's going to make good judgments about the issues that come before the country, and so that's always the dominant issue in my opinion.
KING: Ms. Lewinsky, though, is not?
A. GORE: Well, what I hear people saying is that they've long since wanted to move on from that. You know, some in the -- you'll still hear a question every once in a while about it, but nobody in the public brings that up. They want to talk about the future. They don't want to talk about that. They want to move on.
KING: Something that might come up, and we want to clarify this so it's exactly -- if the president were indicted, you said there would be no pardon. Is that quid pro quo, period, no pardon, if he asked you for a pardon, there would be no pardon, period, no pardon?
A. GORE: Well, he has said that he would not ask for one, and through his lawyer, he said he would neither request nor accept one, and it's all hypothetical anyway.
KING: But it's a fair hypothetical. Because you may be sitting in the president's office, and the public may want to say, they were -- when Nixon was pardoned by President Ford, they didn't know that was going to happen. Of course they hadn't had to vote for President Ford at the time, so it's fair to ask?
A. GORE: The answer is he's already said he will not request one, and that he would not accept one. So that makes it really more than a hypothetical. It's just not going to happen.
KING: What did that do to you, Tipper, that scandal? What was its affect on you? I mean, you had to bear up and support the president. You're friends with Hillary. Your husband has to be vice president. What did it do to you?
T. GORE: Well, I think it did what it did to everybody. I mean, everyone in the country regretted it. Just like anyone who has personal friends who go through personal difficulties, you feel for them, you give them the best advice, you comfort them, you forgive, and you get on with your lives, and certainly that is what this country has been doing and wants to do. And the election that we're talking about is the election about people's future, and it's about continuing this economic prosperity. It's about talking about education and health care.
And I have to agree with Al, I'd like to point it out, that most of the people -- I've been all over Iowa, all over New Hampshire, many, many states all across this country -- and people really don't bring this up. They want to know...
KING: You don't hear about it?
T. GORE: Honestly, no, not from regular, normal, everyday people.
A. GORE: Larry, my relationship with the president basically has four components. He's my friend, and it's a real and genuine friendship. I condemned his personal mistake, as most everybody did. I've had the chance to work alongside him and fight and win a lot of battles on behalf of the American people to turn the economy around. We now have the strongest economy in history, just to cite one example. And then finally, I'm running this race for president on my own, and I'm putting forward my own vision of the future. I want to take my own values to the presidency, I want to fight for the American people, and I'm presenting an agenda that's as different as the one that Bill Clinton and I presented in 1993 as the year 2001 will be from that time eight years earlier. We have a lot of new and different challenges now. And luckily, instead of the worst deficits, we have the biggest surpluses. Instead of a triple-dip recession, we've got 21 new jobs, and low unemployment and the strongest economy ever.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll include your phone calls. They're our guests for the full hour, Vice President and Mrs. Gore. This is LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
KING: Let's include some phone calls for the Gores.
Rockford, Illinois, hello.
CALLER: Yes, Mr. Vice president, I'm calling about Elian.
A. GORE: Yes.
CALLER: The Miami family's breaking the law. They were ordered to turn Elian over after their temporary custody was revoked, and they refused to do it. Do you condone this law breaking and advise them to continue it?
A. GORE: Oh, I advise them to abide by the law, and they have said that they will. And although I've heard some contradictory statements from time to time, the statements that I've heard over and over again, especially from their attorneys, is that they will abide by the law. And I expect that they will, and I certainly hope that they will.
KING: What did you think, on another area, before we take another call of Senator John McCain's admission yesterday that he said what he said about the South Carolina flag to win the South Carolina vote, that he was ashamed of it, that he did it for political reasons and he apologized? Almost unheard of in politics. How did you react to that?
A. GORE: I admired the statement. I thought it was characteristically brave of John, and I call on Governor Bush to go to South Carolina and acknowledge the same mistake, because obviously, the Confederate flag has no place above that state capitol building, and the vast majority of people in South Carolina, of all backgrounds and races, feel the same way. And you know, I don't think that it's right to turn your back on a moral choice of that kind.
KING: There were times in every campaign, I guess, if we look back, when you regretted a vote you may have made, a statement you may have made when you were in the Senate. Have you ever stood up and said, I'm sorry, I did that for a reason, I was wrong?
A. GORE: I have...
KING: You're asking Governor Bush to do that assuming he believes the flag should come down.
A. GORE: Well...
KING: You're assuming he believes that it should come down.
A. GORE: Maybe he doesn't believe it. I don't know. You'd have to ask him. It -- it's hard to imagine that he would think it should stay up there. You know, Civil War was over a long time ago. There are a few on the way -- on the right end of the spectrum politically, the extreme right wing, that want to keep it up there. And...
KING: But have you ever had that in your life...
A. GORE: I think that's been afraid of making them mad.
KING: Have you taken a stand where you regretted it?
A. GORE: Yes, I have. I could give you some examples. When I was a freshman in Congress, I campaigned within the Congress really hard against the deregulation of natural gas. That sounds like a complex issue. It looked like it was the best way to keep the price down to me. But over the course of time, with the passage of years and more evidence and more experience, I've come to believe that that was -- that that was a mistake.
KING: It was on this program where you said, boy, I don't want to be vice president.
I'll never forget that night. And forget it, I don't want it, the Senate is a great job, I'm happy in the Senate, I don't want it. And of course, you took it. So you have to be thinking about who you want. Have you been?
A. GORE: Where's your legal residence, Larry?
KING: It's still Virginia, although I'm half in Virginia, half in California. But legal residence I guess I -- Virginia. Why?
A. GORE: Well, I just wondered if you were interested.
KING: I would never take that job!
KING: In a million...
A. GORE: Oh, they all say. That -- don't listen to him, Tipper. They all say that.
T. GORE: I like the fact he's from Virginia, though.
KING: All right. Tipper, do you -- well...
A. GORE: I'm not making up a list, long or short.
KING: Well, you might need...
T. GORE: I know.
A. GORE: Not yet.
KING: You're not making up any list? No?
A. GORE: Not yet. I've asked Warren Christopher to be in charge of the process, because I happen to think he did a great job last time.
KING: Tipper, have you given it any thought? I mean, you must. How can you not? In fact, you have to think about it. Just by asking -- if I ask, you have to think about it.
T. GORE: Yes, and let me just say the first thing that pops in my mind. No, I -- obviously, this is something that -- that we'll think about in due course. Not even all the primaries have occurred at this point. And we want to make sure that everybody has a chance and an opportunity to cast their ballot, and let's talk about this in August.
KING: Well, let's ask this then, Al, and this is fair. It's not hypothetical. Will you wait until the Republicans announce theirs in Philadelphia before you have to announce yours in Los Angeles?
A. GORE: I don't know. I haven't made that decision yet. If a choice appears obvious before then, I may decide to go earlier than that. But I just don't know at this point.
KING: No ruling out of genders. The possibility of a woman always there?
A. GORE: Well, of course. Of course, I would not rule out anyone on the basis of gender. Of course not. Or race.
KING: We'll be right back with more of the Gores and more of your phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Our guests are the Gores, the vice president and Tipper, and we go to Gunnison, Colorado, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Mr. Vice President, Tipper Gore's stand on pro- censorship for music is clear. I was wondering, if elected president, what stand will you take on this issue?
A. GORE: Well, she's not for censorship and never has been. She's for more tools being made available to parents. And I agree with her, and maybe she wants to speak for herself on this.
KING: You were for labeling, right?
T. GORE: Exactly. I think in this information age that parents and others need all the tools they can get to get to know what kind of music or movie or TV show or Internet site or video game is going to be available to their young child. And so the music industry voluntarily created labels, and they -- they make the decision. They put them on their music products. And I think that is helpful.
Now the trick is for those who are interested in them to actually use them.
KING: But you never wanted to ban anyone from recording?
T. GORE: Oh, no, no. I am not for censorship in any form, and in fact, I'm a strong proponent of the First Amendment. I think that it's...
A. GORE: She had her own rock band in high school.
T. GORE: Well, I think the First Amendment is an integral part of the strength of our democracy.
KING: Al, you're pro capital punishment, are you not?
A. GORE: Yes.
KING: All right, the governor of Illinois...
A. GORE: I mean, given the circumstances.
KING: The governor of Illinois has suspended them based on findings of people being released, over 14 in his state. Pat Robertson, certainly no liberal, has called for a death penalty moratorium. Tennessee had its first execution in 40 years on Wednesday. Do you think we should take a step back and look at this?
A. GORE: Well, I think the record in Illinois -- was very different from the record nationally, and given the record that he faced, I don't quarrel with his decision. Nationally, the statistics don't reflect the same kind of experience that he encountered, certainly not in the federal courts.
And I have always believed, Larry -- and let me add, I deeply respect those who have a different opinion -- but I've always believed that for particularly heinous crimes, where the death penalty is warranted, then I have supported it. KING: And would not -- don't agree with a moratorium on it, in view of the findings.
A. GORE: No, absent more evidence of the kind that showed up in Illinois. I don't think the evidence nationally, at this point, supports that step.
KING: Would you take out Miranda? They argued that in the Supreme Court.
A. GORE: Well, I'll be interested in what the court does. I've always felt that the common sense way in which most police departments have been able to handle it have been a net plus for our criminal justice system, and a lot of police officers will tell you that these days, too, but I have no idea how the court will see it.
But I will say this, Larry, that the next president will probably appoint three, maybe more, justices of the Supreme Court, and a woman's right to choose is very much at stake. A lot of our civil liberties and civil rights will be determined by the court, and the majority on the court for perhaps the next 30 years will be determined during the term of this next president.
And you talked about Pat Robertson a moment ago. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have met with Governor Bush and proclaim that they are completely and totally happy with whatever he told them about his approach to a woman's right to choose and selecting Supreme Court justices. I think that it's a very, very important issue, and the presidency is at stake, the Congress is at stake, and because of the appointments, the Supreme Court is at stake in this election.
KING: Concerning campaign finance reform, they've made that famous handshake in New Hampshire. Nothing happened. You've called if for it. Bush calls for it. Everybody says they want certain forms of it. Nothing has happened. The general impression is that none of you want it, that you talk a good game, as McCain pointed out often, nobody really wants it.
A. GORE: I want it. I proposed it in my first term in Congress in 1978. I've fought for it for all these years. I have sponsored or cosponsored a lot of bills. I've supported passage of the McCain- Feingold measure. I want to go farther than that. I think we ought to have public financing of federal elections, and I've proposed an outlawing of the so-called soft money.
Governor Bush is opposed to McCain-Feingold. He's opposed to ban on so money. He's opposed to public financing. And there's a big difference between us on this.
I've gone farther still, Larry, and proposed a democracy endowment that will raise enough money over a seven-year period to support full public financing of all federal elections in perpetuity. It can be done, and a president who is committed to this reform can get it done. It will be the first bill -- McCain-Feingold will be the first bill that I submit to the Congress if I'm entrusted with the presidency. KING: First bill of your presidency would be the McCain-Feingold as written now?
A. GORE: Absolutely.
KING: Do you expect a lot of McCain voters to support you, independent McCain voters?
A. GORE: Well, I hope so. I'm hearing from an awful lot of them who do not agree with Governor Bush's opposition to campaign finance reform, opposition to a woman's right to choose, opposition to pushing for mandatory child safety trigger locks and sensible restrictions on guns. And most of all, I guess I'm hearing from people who agreed with John McCain when he said that Governor Bush's economic numbers don't even come close to adding up, and who disagree with him when he proposes privatizing Social Security and proposing a $2 trillion tax scheme that would not only spend the entire budget surplus for the next 10 years, but a trillion dollars over and above that, instantly putting us back into deficits, stopping the pay down of the debt that has occurred in the Clinton/Gore administration, and instead mounting the debt up again, which would raise interest rates and put our economic directly recovery at risk.
I want to keep the prosperity going, make sure no one is left behind and use it to expand access to health care and bring revolutionary improvements to our public schools and clean up the environment as we reduce the crime rates. These are the kinds of investments in our future that we can make if we keep our prosperity going, and it's just irresponsible to propose a $2 trillion tax scheme that doesn't even come close to adding up.
KING: San Diego, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Mr. Vice president.
A. GORE: Hello.
CALLER: If Hillary Rodham Clinton does not win the senatorial race in New York, would you consider appointing her to a public service office or even a cabinet post?
A. GORE: I think she is going to win that race. She's ahead. She's running a better campaign. New Yorkers agree with her on the issues that are being discussed there.
KING: Question was, though, if she doesn't.
A. GORE: Well, that's -- she would be an excellent public servant in virtually any position, but that's a hypothetical I'm not going to entertain, because I'm for her, and I think she is going to win, and I think she'll be a great senator.
KING: Are you going to win New York?
A. GORE: I hope so. I'm not taking any state for granted. I'll be back in New York on Monday, and I'm working hard there. KING: We'll be back with more of the Gores right after these words.
Don't go away.
KING: Before we take another call, Mr. Vice President, Were you surprised at Congressman Gephardt coming out against China's entry in WTO?
A. GORE: No, that reflects an opinion he's held for a long time. I talked to him the day that he announced his decision. I think he's gone about it in a very statesmanlike way. I happen to disagree with him. I think that the measure should be passed. I think it's in our national interest. I think it will give us more leverage, not less leverage, to bring about the kinds of changes in China that we want to see. I think that it will help to encourage more trade and commerce between China and Taiwan, and I think that will have a pacifying effect at a needed time. And it doesn't reduce any of our tariffs, incidentally; it only reduces Chinese tariffs against our goods. And they're going to get into the WTO whether we pass this or not.
I do favor it, but I respect Dick's opinion, and he has some good arguments, and he has gone about it in a very thoughtful way, and I think it's a textbook example of how to disagree agreeably.
KING: Oceanside, California, hello.
CALLER: Hello. Mr. Vice President, as a loyal Democrat I would respectfully like to ask you why you're taking the stand that you are regarding Elian, when the vast majority of this country would like to see him go back to his father?
A. GORE: Well, in a decision -- in a case like that, the decision is not made by popular vote. It's made according to due process of law. And in our country, the normal way a decision about what is in the best interest of a child is made is by a family court with the experience and expertise and body of law that's used to make such a judgment and I've felt from the start that that's the best way to handle this case.
KING: But emotionally as a father, you must understand the dad?
A. GORE: Oh, sure, and usually a father's opinion in a situation like this decides the outcome. But there are exceptions, and this may well not be one of the exceptions. But that shouldn't be decided on the basis of a public opinion poll, that should be decided on the basis of what's in the best interests of the child.
And, Larry, if the decision were made that way, and if there was a psychological evaluation of the child by people who met with the child at the behest of the court proceeding in question, and the decision was made to reunite them and he goes back to Cuba -- if it was made that way, I honestly believe that the vast majority of those who presently are wanting so much for the child to stay here would change, and they would say, yes, the decision was made according to the due process that's supposed to be used and the decision would be accepted.
KING: Do you think this has been handled poorly on all sides?
A. GORE: Oh, I just think it's an unusual situation, where the mother lost her life trying to secure freedom for the child, and a lot of the facts are difficult to ascertain because of the repressive political system in Cuba. There were legitimate questions from the beginning as to whether or not the father was free to express his real wishes. I just think that all of these circumstances came together to produce a very, very difficult case.
KING: Let me get a break, and we'll be back with our remaining moments, some final thoughts from the vice president and Mrs. Gore after this.
KING: Tipper, we do not mean to forsake you, so in our remaining moments, what's been highs and lows for you in this campaign?
T. GORE: Well, let's see, the high was Dixville Notch in New Hampshire. I think that's...
KING: Was there a low point? You haven't lost a primary yet.
T. GORE: Haven't lost a primary yet. And the low in terms of latitude was that I had to campaign in Key West, and I loved every minute of it.
KING: You are pretty funny, Tipper. By the way, how are you feeling?
T. GORE: Thank you, I'm feeling very well. I feel very well. Lots of energy, very good, certainly feel good about the way the campaign is going, and I thank you for asking.
KING: Why do you want to be first lady?
T. GORE: It's not so much that I want to be first lady is that I think that Al Gore would make a terrific president, and I think he would make a terrific president because he's got intelligence, experience, vision, conviction, and he will fight to make people's lives better. I've seen this in his whole career in public service. I know that's what makes him tick. And I think that he would be very good for this country.
KING: No trepidation on your part about assuming that role which has so much responsibility? No little fears?
T. GORE: Well, no fears. I hope he has the opportunity. I hope that we will earn the respect and trust of the American people, and that they will choose to vote for him to continue to lead this country forward.
KING: Al, is it going to be very close? The latest polls have the governor ahead of you by, I think, 8 percentage points, everyone is saying this is going to be a knock-down drag-out long night in November. You expect that?
A. GORE: I don't know. Probably. The one poll you cite is different from all of the others out there that are saying it's even closer than that, and -- but the polls really have been so wrong.
KING: This was the CNN-"USA Today."
A. GORE: I understand. But they show the race -- the polls go up, down, and sideways, and the voters make the decision. And I really don't pay any attention to polls. But to answer your question, it's going to be a hard-fought race, I think it's likely to be a close race, neck in neck. I'm having a great time, I'm concentrating not on the horse race, but on communicating with the American people.
I want to keep our prosperity going. I'm doing a school day every single week, going into a school from the time the children arrive until the moment they leave, and talking with teachers and parents and students. Tipper and I are going to be doing working family days, learning about the ways...
KING: So you -- we're out of...
A. GORE: ... couples balance work and family in modern-day America. And I'm really having a great time on the campaign trail.
KING: Thanks, Gores, and I might take you up on those daily conferences.
A. GORE: Come on out, we'll do one every day that you're there, that's a promise.
KING: Al and Tipper. CNN "NEWSSTAND" is next. Good night.
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