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Larry King Live
The Gores Discuss Election 2000Aired September 28, 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, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore and his wife Tipper for the hour, and we'll take your calls, next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
What a week, on Tuesday night we had the Bushes, last night Bobby Knight, and tonight, the vice president of the United States and his wife Tipper, Vice President Al Gore.
Before we move to the big story of the day, first tell me, the kiss, you knew or you didn't know?
TIPPER GORE, AL GORE'S WIFE: Well, I didn't know.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just happened.
KING: You had no idea?
T. GORE: No.
KING: He didn't say to you, "Let's do a big kiss"?
T. GORE: No. I think I was clearly surprised.
KING: What -- was it the moment?
A. GORE: Yes. I have been surprised myself that there has been so much analysis of it. One of the political analysts said, were you trying to send a message?
KING: Well, a lot of people have said that, that you were trying to...
A. GORE: I said...
KING: You know, you are following a president didn't have a stable marriage, we have a stable marriage.
A. GORE: Give me a break.
KING: There is all these clues.
A. GORE: Give me a break. I was trying to send a message to Tipper.
T. GORE: Yes. Message received.
A. GORE: No, really, Larry, before I went out, Tipper showed this wonderful photo display of our life together, and our children, and it was very emotional. I was standing back with my friend Tommy Lee Jones looking at the screen over this curtain that I was going to come through and it was really very emotional for me. When I came out, there were all these thousands of people with an outpouring of emotion, and so, why would I not want to share a moment that she and I had been working for together for so long with her?
KING: What was your reaction?
T. GORE: Like I said, message received.
KING: Was there a shock?
T. GORE: No, it was pleasant.
KING: I mean, it's never happened before. It was...
T. GORE: Well, neither had I ever been in a convention hall introducing my husband who was about to accept the Democratic nomination for president.
KING: OK, big story today, we haven't heard your reaction yet, the FDA approved today RU-486, the French abortion pill. The governor of Texas, Bush said, "I fear that making this abortion pill widespread will make abortions more and more common." Your thoughts?
A. GORE: I think it's up to the woman, and I strongly support a woman's right to choose.
KING: Whatever method?
A. GORE: And I strongly -- and I support the FDA's approval, assuming it's safe for the woman who takes it, and that's what they decided today. I do not think that, that -- that it ought to be kept away from women for some political reason. I support a woman's right to choose.
T. GORE: Well, of course...
KING: What do you -- what about the governor's statement that abortions will be more widespread since this is obviously an easier method?
T. GORE: Well, let me tell you something, I don't think that a decision about abortion is ever easy for any person that would ever be faced with it. I don't think it's ever an easy decision. But I fully support women's right to have control over their own destiny and I think that's what's at stake here.
KING: Do you have any concern about the widespread aspect of it? I mean, do you think it will cause a flood of abortions, people running to take this magic pill?
T. GORE: I -- let me just say as a woman...
KING: You have to still go through a doctor, you don't buy it in a store.
T. GORE: Let me just say one thing here, again, I think -- I don't think so, because I think that it's always going to be a very difficult decision for any woman who is faced with it, and I don't think anybody would take it lightly. I think that all of us want to, even those of us who feel very strongly about a woman's right to choose, want to make sure that there are fewer abortions and that people understand that they can't -- shouldn't take it lightly.
A. GORE: You know, this is really a major issue that will be decided on November 7 this year, because it's a very -- a clear difference between the two candidates.
KING: But thus far, it hasn't been raised until today.
A. GORE: Not too much, but the next president will appoint maybe three, possibly even four justices of the Supreme Court, and we -- I support a woman's right to choose, my opponent does not.
KING: But he says he won't have a litmus test.
A. GORE: Yes, but -- well, I'll let him speak for himself on that, because I think he is made it pretty clear that he -- that -- I mean, he said he will do everything he can to overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that's a mistake, Larry, and I -- you know, one other thing, I have always felt that there is a way to bring the people who feel strongly pro-choice and those on the other side of the issue more together on the common goal of reducing the number of times any woman is in a situation where she feels like she has to confront that choice.
KING: How do you do that?
A. GORE: Well, I think with family planning, and with education, and with appropriate means of birth control.
KING: Is that a government responsibility?
A. GORE: Well, I think that if local school boards decide that there shouldn't be some federal law saying, "No, you can't get into that" -- I mean, I think the number of births out of wedlock has been going up all over the North Atlantic world -- and including here in the United States.
And I am a strong proponent of families. I think we need to help parents and strengthen families. And my whole point is that this has been a raging argument for so many years. And both sides, if they stop and think about it, really do have some respect for what the other side is saying -- most people.
And yet, the common ground has been elusive. I think that there is common ground. But I will always protect a woman's right to choose.
KING: You have changed your mind on that. Years, ago, you were the opposite view on
A. GORE: Only on the issue of federal funding.
KING: And you changed in that issue.
A. GORE: I did. I did. But I have always supported the Roe versus Wade decision.
KING: Is it a good point that, even though it is traumatic, Tipper, that when it is a pill, it seems easier than a procedure?
T. GORE: Well, I think that that may be true.
KING: It seems simple.
T. GORE: And I think that there should be a lot of education about that, a lot of conversation. And I think we ought to focus on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, so that people don't have to come to grips with it to begin with. We have the -- you know, we have the knowledge to do that.
We simply have to, I think, do a better job of educating people about family planning and ways to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
KING: So summing up, since the FDA says it is safe, it is fine with you that it is out there.
A. GORE: I support their decision. But you know, I think there are other things involved here, Larry. I mean all the debate about what kids are exposed to in the media touches upon this issue as well. I think that parents need more tools to protect their children against some of the coarseness that comes at young kids when parents would really like to have a little better chance to shield them if they think they are not ready to handle it.
That debate has taken a place in the context of violence. But premature sexuality and indecency is also an issue that needs to be addressed. And parents need more help.
KING: Lots more to come with the Gores on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
` KING: We are back -- and lots of things to talk about with the Gores.
One of the issues being raised is happening in the New York campaign -- I wonder what you think of it -- stayovers at the White House for people who contribute or people who are friends.
A. GORE: I saw the Bushes on your show night before last, and I thought they had a good statement about that, where they said, look, as a practical matter, a lot of your friends and family are also people who want to support you. So if you say you're never going to have a guest that has supported your campaign, that's -- that's not really -- that's not feasible. But I know what you're...
KING: In a Gore administration people will stay at the White House.
A. GORE: Well, you know, if somebody is a close friend who is also a campaign supporter, yes.
KING: How about just a campaign supporter that you don't know?
A. GORE: You know...
T. GORE: No.
KING: A guy calls you up and says, hey, Phil gave you $100,000 to this PAC. No?
A. GORE: No.
T. GORE: I think we could think of some other things to do.
KING: They won't -- in other words, that's persona non grata. OK.
Second issues in the same -- allied field, you offered to drop all soft...
A. GORE: Right, right. Now...
KING: On that same program, the governor said he doesn't trust you.
A. GORE: Well, I made that offer back in March. But what happened yesterday was that John McCain and Russ Feingold, the two champions of campaign finance reform, bipartisan -- one Democrat and one Republican -- sent a letter to me and to Governor Bush saying why don't you guys agree to drop all soft money. And I called both of them and wrote them a letter and said, OK, I agree, and I will send representatives to talk with you guys if Governor Bush will.
And you know, Governor Bush said he doesn't trust me. I'm not going to respond in kind to that. But does he trust John McCain and Russ Feingold, because they're the ones that proposed this, and they would be the arbiters and mediators of it.
So the offer is still open. I make it in all sincerity, and I hope that he'll reconsider and accept.
KING: Can you -- let's say you sign this thing.
A. GORE: Right.
KING: And I decide -- "Larry King's Fund" decides to run an ad...
A. GORE: Yes.
KING: ... you can't stop that ad, according to the First Amendment, could you?
A. GORE: No, you can't, but you can call on groups that are friendly to you...
KING: And say don't...
A. GORE: ... to cease and desist, and sometimes that has worked. Now, it's not a perfect solution. But if the two parties -- they're the ones that have the most of this -- and if the two parties quit, then that would solve most of the problem. But I will call on all the other groups, too.
KING: You do?
A. GORE: Oh, yes, absolutely
KING: And you support what they're doing in New York...
A. GORE: Absolutely.
KING: ... that they both signed off on it.
You've been a critic of the record industry in the past, and you've been a critic of violence. You just mentioned it recently on television.
Is there a hypocritical attitude when you take money from the people who you also criticize? You first.
T. GORE: Well, let me just say that the entertainment industry is only a part of the problem. I have looked at this as a parent and as a citizen for many years, as you know, Larry. In fact, I went on your show...
KING: Years ago.
T. GORE: ... on radio years ago about it. And I think people are concerned about the levels of gratuitous violence that's marketed to kids in all of the entertainment media. But the entertainment community is not solely responsible. We all have to be a part of the...
KING: But if they're part of the responsibility...
T. GORE: Right, right. I just wanted to make that statement, because I think it's important.
However, where they are concerned, they're not monolithic either. And so I think that it's perfectly right that Al and Joe have both made extremely strong statements, have very strong records on this, and they are telling their friends in the entertainment industry exactly where they stand.
A. GORE: Absolutely. If you have supporters, you have to be willing to -- to be -- candid and tough with them as well as people who are not supporters. And when -- when Joe and I came out so strongly in support of this FTC set of recommendations and said, we'll give them -- we'll give you six months to clean up your act, if you don't, then we're going to recommend toughening these laws against false and deceptive advertising.
I called some people in the industry and said point-blank here's the problem, companies have declared some of their products -- videogames, movies, records -- as unsuitable for young children, but then the same companies, sometimes, have turned right around and spent lots of money pushing those same products without the parents' awareness straight to the young children. That is wrong.
It is hypocritical. It is wrong. And quite a few of them immediately said: "Yes, you are right. That is wrong. We need to stop that." Some of them have not been willing to go along. But most are really -- you know, they are parents, too, so...
KING: And those that are not willing to go along, if they still support you, will take the support.
A. GORE: Absol...
A. GORE: Well, now, you know, it depends on what they do and say. But a supporter doesn't mean -- if somebody is a supporter, that doesn't mean that you can't confront that person. You might have more of an ability to change that person's mind.
KING: So it is not wrong to -- and you would take from the NRA, under the same concept.
A. GORE: I think that it is -- I think it is a little different kind of situation, I do not accept contributions from the NRA or from the tobacco industry. I think that is a little different.
KING: But the same thing could be said. You could try to persuade them.
A. GORE: You could. But it's a -- but there, they have all been against the child-safety trigger locks and the three-day waiting period. And they're -- Tipper said before, in the entertainment industry, they do a lot of good things. And they are not monolithic. And they have responded, in a very constructive way, to many of these concerns that have been raised.
KING: So the other two haven't?
A. GORE: Not in my opinion. T. GORE: Right. And also -- and also, I mean, as far as the work that I did, specifically, I mean, the recording industry came up with the warning label.
KING: Yes, they did.
A. GORE: And they have been putting it on voluntarily.
KING: Which is what you wanted.
A. GORE: Which is what we wanted. And they're -- you know, that is giving people a tool to use in the marketplace. That is good.
KING: Back with more of the vice president and -- are you -- are you second lady? What do we call the vice president's wife?
T. GORE: It makes me feel like I just didn't try hard enough, Larry.
KING: Yes -- that is right -- the vice president and Avis. "We try harder," right? Is that what they say?
We'll we back with more. Don't go away.
KING: We are back with the Gores on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
OK, explain something. The economy is terrific. No American is dying anywhere at war. The stock market is terrific. Things seem blissful. Nobody is worried about being attacked by a foreign -- why aren't you 20 points ahead?
A. GORE: Well, this election is not an award for past performance. And I'm not...
KING: Shouldn't it count?
A. GORE: Well, I think people want all of our elections to be about the future. And I'm not asking anybody to support me on the basis of what's happened in the past.
A. GORE: No. I want them to support me on the basis of the good things we can make happen together in the future. Now, learning...
KING: But your record counts.
A. GORE: Well, learning the lessons of what works and what doesn't work is important. And there is no doubt that, eight years ago -- contrary to what some say -- we weren't better off. We had big deficits -- had record deficits, high unemployment. We had serious problems. And we have seen some progress. But I'm not satisfied. It's not good enough. I think this is a big moment in American history, though, Larry, because we now have -- instead of the biggest deficits -- the biggest surpluses in history, we have the foundation upon which we can build tremendous progress, not only keep the prosperity going, but make sure that it enriches all our families, not just a few.
KING: But why do -- Tipper -- do you think you're not way ahead -- I mean, based on a happy populous
T. GORE: Well, I think, first of all, that people are very discerning, that they are going to be tuning in now, from the convention, and really this month, and make up their minds who they are going to elect, and here is Al Gore and Joe Lieberman talking about how they can make life better for working people, and that women still need an equal day's pay for an equal day's work, that people are still out there struggling even though we have created 22 million new jobs in this administration and the economy is good. They are going to look at him and say, what can he do to make my life better versus his opponent.
KING: What do you make of all this shifting? You are 17 behind, you are 10 ahead, you are dead-even today. According to today's CNN/"USA Today" poll, you are both at 46 percent.
A. GORE: Yes. Well...
KING: With a margin of error, someone is ahead.
A. GORE: I think the polls have come to play too prominent a role in the way campaigns are covered and analyzed. I mean, they have their place, but they are kind of inherently misleading, you go out and interview 240 people in the whole country and...
KING: But what does a candidate do when the newspapers and the television play it as a major story? How do you deal with it?
A. GORE: Just keep your eyes on what's really important. This is -- the election really is not a game or a contest. It has aspects of a competition, of course. But it's not about me and it's not about Governor Bush, it's about the American people.
And a lot of people who -- you know, they have kind of an internal calendar and they say, look, I'm not going to decide how to vote until November the 7th and I'm going to listen to what the candidates have to say, and I think people are listening for specifics, I think they are tired of the spinning and the PR, and I think they want unvarnished facts about what we are proposing to do. That's why I'm talking about why it's important to give all of our seniors a prescription drug benefit, why it's important to recruit new teachers and have new accountability.
KING: And they are not saying the same thing? Aren't they saying the same thing?
A. GORE: No, not on those things, no. They... KING: The governor says he wants the prescriptions now.
A. GORE: Well, it -- only for -- 95 percent of the seniors would not get any help under the plan they have put forward for five years, and then, people would be pushed into HMOs and insurance companies. And the difference is, under the plan Joe Lieberman and I have proposed, we would have a prescription drug benefit under the Medicare program for all seniors, not just low-income seniors, middle-class seniors also, and they would get help with 50 percent of all of their costs for prescriptions, up to $5,000 a year, and then they would get additional help above that for high costs.
KING: Is that the first thing you would do?
A. GORE: Well, the first thing I would do -- no. The first...
KING: The first day in office.
A. GORE: The first day in office, the first bill that I will send to the Congress if I'm the entrusted with the presidency is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.
KING: As written.
A. GORE: Absolutely. And then I want to go beyond that, and establish a democracy endowment that takes all private money out of federal elections. I think we need to give our democracy back to the people and I'm serious about this, Larry. I have fought for this for 24 years. When I first went to the Congress in 1976, I supported this measure.
KING: There was no McCain-Feingold then, right?
A. GORE: No. I supported full public financing of federal elections to get all the special interest money out of it. But McCain-Feingold is the logical first step, and if you are for some more ambitious plan, save that for later, because we have the chance to really pass McCain-Feingold.
KING: And you think it can happen?
A. GORE: Yes, I support it. My opponent does not. But look, it is really crucial, money plays too big a role in politics.
KING: Let me get a break, and we'll come back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll also be including your phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: The mystery of the mole. How did you get Bush tapes?
A. GORE: I have a close friend named Tom Downey who is helping with the debate practice, and people know he is a good friend and that he was involved in it. One day, at his office, this package comes in the mail from Austin, Texas -- and I haven't even talked to him about it, we haven't even talked since this event occurred just to be totally on the safe side. And he -- I have read in the newspapers what happened, I have heard from my staff. He immediately, when he opened it and saw that it was the -- inside or material from the Bush campaign, he immediately closed it back up, he said, look, I don't know what this deal is, but I am not supposed to see this, it could be stolen. He called his lawyer, they immediately turned it over to the FBI, and he resigned from the debate team, and we...
KING: Resigned from the debate team?
A. GORE: Absolutely. And we agreed with that, because...
KING: And you have never seen it?
A. GORE: Never seen it and never talked to him about it, but for this reason, Larry: we wanted to make absolutely certain that anything that he saw in the brief time that he looked at it did not get -- did not affect the way I prepare for the debate. And so that's the full sum -- that's the extent of my knowledge of this.
KING: One of your great debate moments occurred right here on this set in this city against Ross Perot.
A. GORE: Yes.
KING: Would never forget that night, and the president think that night and after pass, and everyone made the remark that you were a great debater. Therefore, do you approach next Tuesday very confidently?
A. GORE: Well, I don't see it as a contest between me and Governor Bush, I see it as an opportunity.
KING: It's not the setting.
A. GORE: No, it's not, but whatever the setting, I see a debate and a presidential campaign as an opportunity to talk directly with the American people about what's important to them and to give them a chance to see and hear the differences, and give them the information and let them make the choice. And I think...
KING: So it's not a question of confidence or not confidence?
A. GORE: Well, the older I get, the less I'm nervous about things that might have made me nervous when I was younger.
KING: When you practice for it, you -- what do you -- they give you imaginary questions...
A. GORE: Yes.
KING: Someone pretends to be the other person, you go through a mock debate?
A. GORE: Yes, basically. Most of it is reading material -- reading briefing books, pretty boring, but then we do also do some practice sessions, right.
KING: And since it is so important, do you think about things, what he is going to wear? What color tie? I mean, do you start to get involved in aesthetics?
A. GORE: I ask her for advice on what to wear, sure.
T. GORE: Yes, sure.
A. GORE: I think I may wear red suspenders for this debate.
KING: Yes. How about olive? You like that look, huh?
T. GORE: We like red.
KING: You like red?
T. GORE: Yes. It looks pretty sharp.
KING: Why don't you -- that would be gutsy. See, that we don't have yet, right?
By the way, should Ralph Nader be in? Should Pat Buchanan be in?
A. GORE: That's up to the commission, and the commission has decided that...
KING: If you were on the commission?
A. GORE: Well, I don't disagree with their judgment, because, you know, you can look at it different ways, but most people want to see a clash of ideas and a presentation between the people who really have the support of most of the American people, and they established some guidelines. I -- you know, I'm not going to say if I would establish a threshold right where they do, but we agreed to take the commission's word for this, and they are the ones that made that decision.
KING: But we'll never have more than a two-party system, because it's self feeding, right?
A. GORE: No, we have had debates with three candidates, sure.
We'll be back with more, we'll include your phone calls for the Gores. It's less than, what, six weeks away, huh? How close are we?
A. GORE: That's right.
T. GORE: It's five weeks.
KING: Five weeks? We're closing in.
Don't go away.
KING: We hope there will be more visits before the election, because we...
A. GORE: I hope so too. We would love to come back.
KING: OK, so I got to tin-type a lot of things. Are you running away from the president?
A. GORE: No. No.
KING: You want him to campaign for you?
A. GORE: Sure. Yes.
KING: You going to go into New York for Hillary?
T. GORE: I would be happy, if she asked me. Sure.
KING: There's -- so rumors of some sort of clash or a dispute, untrue.
A. GORE: Untrue.
T. GORE: Oh, completely untrue.
KING: You want her to be elected to the Senate?
A. GORE: Oh, absolutely.
T. GORE: Oh, yeah.
A. GORE: Absolutely. We have a chance to see the Senate change hands.
KING: You do? You really think that can happen?
A. GORE: Yes. I think so.
KING: Are you going to not campaign in states like Texas? Are you going to say: Well, we can't win Texas?
A. GORE: Actually.
KING: .. in the campaign in New York, where you look like you're way ahead?
A. GORE: Well, it is unlikely that we will carry the state of Texas in this election. But Joe Lieberman will be campaigning in Texas tomorrow. I'm going to be making a major speech about national energy policy in Maryland tomorrow. And Joe is going to be in Texas, talking about related subjects right there.
KING: So you are not going to win Texas. And you expect to (CROSSTALK)
A. GORE: Well, I'm not giving up on any state but I -- but it's not likely.
KING: The governor said he thinks he can -- the governor said he thinks he can win California. You think you can win Florida?
A. GORE: Yes, I do. I think that Florida is a very competitive state. And again, it is not about me or the governor. It is about the people of Florida wanting a prescription drug benefit for all seniors, protection for the Everglades, help for public schools. Don't drain money away from public schools for private school vouchers.
And they want to see a strong economy that doesn't squander the surplus, on a -- on a huge tax cut for the -- for the wealthy. Let me give you this fact, Larry. Here is an interesting fact about what the plan the other side is proposing. You will find this astonishing, I'm confident.
Their plan spends more money on tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent -- 1 percent -- than the new spending proposals they have for education, health care, prescription drugs and national defense combined: $665 billion.
KING: When I asked -- when I asked that of the governor on...
A. GORE: Yes.
KING: ... Tuesday night, he said, if you give a tax break, you can't exclude anybody. Everyone should get a tax break. No American is better than another American.
A. GORE: Every -- every middle-income family can get a tax cut under the Gore-Lieberman proposal.
KING: But the top 1 percent won't.
A. GORE: They give almost half of all the benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent. See, I just don't think that is right. I think that we have priorities in this country that also need to be attended to. And it may be popular to give it all away, but this is an important moment in our history. We have the surplus. We have a chance to really make progress.
And with the -- with the good economic news recently, there are still so many millions of Americans who have not yet been able to participate. They're -- people are working harder. They are working more hours. They are getting less sleep. They are having a harder time balancing work and family. We need to raise the minimum wage. I'm for that. My opponent is not.
But beyond -- more importantly...
KING: He is opposed to raising the minimum wage? A. GORE: Well, specifically, he has proposed to make it subject to a states' rights veto, so that states could decide to opt out of any minimum wage increase. And...
KING: With no penalty?
A. GORE: Correct. And see, I think it should be a national law, because how do people get by on $5.15 an hour? It's just...
KING: You have been discussing the education situation in this country, and you have, too, right? I asked this of the governor and I ask it of you. If you both think improvements need to be made, if you both think education is lacking, does that mean you think we have stupid people?
A. GORE: Oh, no.
KING: Or if the education system's poor, what does it produce?
I mean, I'm trying to figure out, if the education system is bad...
A. GORE: Yes.
KING: ... what does it produce? People who are less than smart?
A. GORE: Well, people who don't have the...
KING: I don't mean stupid, but less than smart.
A. GORE: Well, I mean, one of the reasons why I'm advocating universal preschool is because there actually is a connection between the kind of early learning that you give children -- and you've got -- you and Dawn have -- what?
A. GORE: ... 18 months and four months. I mean, you and Shawn have one 18 months and one four months.
KING: Yes, you bet.
A. GORE: Universal preschool I think is the next logical step because there actually is a connection between the way children's brains grow and the kind of stimulation that they have.
KING: But I mean, you're not saying we're a poorly educated populous?
A. GORE: I think that -- I think that our school -- a lot of schools are doing a fantastic job, but there are too many schools that are failing, now. Now, they're the exceptions.
But we have a shortage of teachers, and we're not treating teachers like the professionals they are. If you look at the education that is required to be a teacher and the additional training after college graduation, and you look at all the other jobs you can get with that amount of education and training, all the other jobs pay more.
But we need new higher standards, new accountability.
Governor Bush and I actually agree on the fact that we need new accountability. We agree that there should be local control. But the difference is my plan starts with accountability but it doesn't end there.
I devote a lot of new resources, because we don't squander them on that big tax cut for the wealthy. I make it the No. 1 priority and devote a lot of new resources to the classroom, so that students who walk into a classroom will have a chance to have more one-on-one time with a teacher who is not overburdened, so that the child will have a teacher who gets access to the training and professional development.
I want to have -- require a test of all new teachers, including a test in the subjects that they're going to be teaching, and I'm proposing hiring bonuses of $10,000 to recruit new teachers who get certified...
KING: Federal money?
A. GORE: Absolutely. Because local school boards are often strapped for cash, because they rely on the property tax so frequently. And they -- it's a national priority with local control, but the localities don't have the resources to do what's needed.
KING: And what's a good teacher worth?
A. GORE: Well...
KING: You could make a case for anything, right?
A. GORE: I'll give you a couple figures. The average salary, according to one study, for a starting teacher nationwide is about $25,000. The average salary for professionals that have comparable education and training is about $35,000.
KING: Cart before the horse.
A. GORE: Well, you know, it's not just more money. We need new ideas and new standards. But we can't do it without new money, and one of the new ideas I've advocated for years, connecting all the classrooms to the Internet. I came on your show with Reed Hundt to talk about that years ago. And we've now gotten over 90 percent of the schools connected, but we need to give the teachers the training and how to make good use of those new technologies.
KING: We'll get a break, come back and include some of your phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: Before we take our first call for the Gores, Tipper, what do you make of -- is there -- is there such a thing, do you think, as the woman's vote? And why does it seem to tilt back and forth? Your husband had it. Bush had it. Now it is even.
T. GORE: Well, I think that Al is doing the right thing in listening to women. And he has been doing this throughout the campaign. And he's understanding what they are saying. And that is that women are working harder and finding it even more difficult to balance work and family, to -- in some cases, to make ends meet.
And he wants to do very specific things to help make their lives better: like raising the minimum wage; an equal day's pay for an equal day's work.
A. GORE: Child care.
T. GORE: Child care, after-school programs in...
KING: But is that hitting its mark?
T. GORE: Well, you have...
KING: Is the message...
T. GORE: I think that it will, because I think that women...
KING: Do you think he'll get the women's vote? By that, I mean, he will get a majority of the women?
T. GORE: I think women and men both are interested today in the main things that are important to keep body and soul together, so to speak.
KING: So therefore, do you look at it as a gender vote?
T. GORE: Not particularly. I don't.
KING: No, you don't.
Do you? Honestly?
A. GORE: No.
A. GORE: I mean, I think that...
KING: You don't say: This going to appeal to women?
A. GORE: No. There are some issues where, you know, women tell me they feel very strongly about it, and...
T. GORE: Right.
A. GORE: But the key for me is families, all kinds of families, because if you just look at the individual, you are in danger of missing the way people support their loved ones. And how you can -- that is why I'm for getting rid of the marriage penalty, for example. I think -- and child care should not be limited to families that have child care outside the home.
If a couple decides themselves that one of them wants to stay home longer after a baby is born, I think they should get some financial help also.
T. GORE: If I could just say.
T. GORE: One thing that I think women have pushed to the forefront, and that obviously is going to affect them more than men, is an equal day's pay for an equal day's work -- and something that Al is proposing, and that is a Social Security benefit for women who decide to stay at home with their children for a certain amount of time.
A. GORE: Yes. Yes. Yes.
T. GORE: Now this is -- what he is saying: I value your different roles and I respect them.
KING: That's a role, too.
A. GORE: If a woman -- if a couple has both of them working, and they have a child, if one of them decides to stay home with that child, then they might be penalized on the career track and get -- end up with a lower top salary and lower retirement under Social Security. But under my proposal, they could get up to five-years credit in the Social Security formula for the work they do in helping to keep that family together and raising that child.
Why should we give them an economic message discriminating against parents if they want to make that decision? If they decide both to work, they -- that is their choice.
KING: Is a gay couple a family too?
A. GORE: Yes they are.
KING: To Billings, Montana, hello.
CALLER: My question is, I would like to know what Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman's intentions are regarding the marriage tax penalty.
KING: And you just mentioned it.
A. GORE: Yes, oh, I -- I think that it ought to be eliminated.
KING: The president vetoed it, though. A. GORE: Well, but the -- the version, Larry, that was vetoed included a lot of tax cut proposals that went to people who weren't even married -- and they called it the marriage penalty bill -- and a lot more to people who are married, but didn't pay any marriage penalty. So it was kind of a Trojan-horse proposal. The popular thing that everybody basically agrees on was loaded up with all this other stuff that tilted up the income ladder.
KING: The governor said the other night he thinks, thus far, this has been a fair campaign and not at all dirty in any way. Do you agree?
A. GORE: I think basically it's been a good campaign. I think a lot of commentators have been surprised at how much the issues have been discussed, not enough for my taste, I'm always trying to emphasize the specifics of the issues
KING: Do you think the press has been fair?
A. GORE: By and large, yes.
KING: We'll back with more, more phone calls for the Gores. Don't go away.
KING: Woodbridge, Virginia, hello.
CALLER: Yes, Vice President Gore, my name is Elizabeth. And I would like to know how you intend on restoring integrity to the White House?
A. GORE: Well, I'm running as my own man, Elizabeth, and I ask you -- as I said last month, I ask you to see me for who I really am. I have served in public office for 24 years. I believe in strong values. And I just ask you to see me for who I am.
KING: The oil reserve, you suggested it, the president acknowledged and bailed out to help people. The governor says that there are other ways to do it and that should only be tapped in times of national emergency dealing with war.
A. GORE: Well, that's not what the law says. The law says that it can be used in circumstances just like this. And the most serious problem that we have been facing there is the severe shortage of home heating oil supplies, especially in the Northeast, where 60 percent of it's used. And the prices have been skyrocketing, and people of low income and middle income have been hit really hard by this.
KING: Isn't there a formula -- excuse me -- that would pay for it?
A. GORE: For some, yes, we released $400 million under the low- income heating assistance program. But people across the board are being hit by these short supplies, and it's not as if it's a free market. OPEC has been constricting the supply in order to push the price up.
Now, let me just say this about -- the G-7 nations yesterday formally endorsed and approved of the release from the strategic reserve, so it's getting widespread acclaim around the world, and what it has done is already dropped the price of oil from around $37 a barrel to around $32 a barrel. We've got challenges ahead, but so far, it looks like it is bringing some relief not only for home heating oil, but for the high gasoline prices that accompany these short supplies there.
KING: Do you think you can morally persuade, as well, OPEC by saying to them, "Hey, we stood up for you, the Persian Gulf, don't you owe us something back?"
A. GORE: Well, OPEC is a curious kind of organization. They have everybody from Venezuela, to Saudi Arabia, to -- I mean, it's not a completely cohesive organization. They -- their formal policy is they want lower prices, but they want stabilized prices at lower levels. And they're scared that if they start going down, they'll be on a slippery slope and collapse like they did once before.
The countries inside OPEC who have pledged to us that they would get OPEC to raise production to lower the price have tried for 10 months to do that, and they haven't been able to make good on all those pledges. And so privately, some of them, it seems to me, look like they welcome a little help from the releases from this reserve to accomplish the result that they have not been able to accomplish on their own.
In any case, people who have been paying these high gasoline prices and home heating oil prices I know are -- want to see us do something and just be hostage to OPEC.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with the Gores. There will be more visits ahead. Don't go away.
KING: Before we take one more call, political humor, a lot of it going around. Late-night guys bother you?
T. GORE: No, no.
KING: They kid the pants off you.
T. GORE: Oh, no, but we sort of joke about them.
KING: You enjoy it. We're doing show on it tomorrow with comics.
T. GORE: Yes, I think everybody in this country needs to have a little bit more fun.
KING: Should Lieberman give up his Senate seat?
A. GORE: I think he made the right judgment on that... KING: By running for both?
A. GORE: ... because it's a six-year term, and under that law, just a couple dozen people would in effect choose someone to serve for six years.
The legislature has the ability to pass a law setting a special election right after January 1st.
KING: But if they don't, the governor appoints someone for six years.
A. GORE: Right, and the governor has said he might veto that law, but I think there's support building for that kind of approach.
KING: Victorville, California, hello.
A. GORE: Yes.
CALLER: What would you like -- what do you like best about being vice president and how would you rate your past performance?
KING: How do you rate a vice president?
A. GORE: Well, I tell you what I have liked about the job. It's a chance to serve your country by doing all kinds of things: to help the president do the best job he can possibly do, to take on special responsibility for particular areas. In my case, the environment, reinventing government, communications policy, things like that.
And I have loved the chance to serve my country in ways that I think have been very productive.
KING: Will Mr. Lieberman have the same access you had?
A. GORE: Absolutely. I think that the country benefits from having a good relationship between a president and vice president, where there is so much trust that a vice president can help shoulder the burden and get a lot more things done for the American people.
KING: When people say you exaggerate a lot, like I heard this song and it wasn't even around when you say it, what happens there with you?
A. GORE: Oh, I think that itself is an exaggeration.
KING: You mean complaining about exaggerating is an exaggeration.
A. GORE: Yes, yes. I mean, I think that in a campaign, you know, if you get a fact wrong, all of a sudden you're accused of, you know, committing some horrible offense.
KING: Some people are, is Al an exaggerator? You know, wow, I saw a rainstorm today that's the biggest rainstorm in the history of rainstorms.
T. GORE: You know, so much of it is -- sometimes you're just talking, you're just thinking, you're talking about the -- you know, being yourself and everything is so closely scrutinized and analyzed.
KING: You don't mean it with malice?
T. GORE: And I think people just have to understand.
A. GORE: No, of course not.
KING: All right. Governor Bush said the other night he is confident in his gut he's going to win. How do you feel?
A. GORE: Well, I...
KING: How do you feel?
A. GORE: At least that confident, and more so. But this is not for him or me to decide; it's for the American people to decide.
KING: Yes, but it's deciding one of you, right? I mean, it's going...
A. GORE: Most likely, yes.
KING: OK. Do you expect to be up late? Will it be close?
A. GORE: I think it probably will be a close race. It is a close race now. I think it will probably stay that way.
KING: How important are the debates?
A. GORE: Probably important. In past elections, they've sometimes been crucial and they've sometimes not...
A. GORE: Yes. It's hard to say.
I'm going to concentrate on trying to give specifics about the issues that I think people really care about and communicate directly with the American people.
KING: You nervous about it?
T. GORE: Not really, no, because Al has so much experience and so much to offer, and he knows what he wants to do and how he wants to lead this country. And this will just give him an opportunity, and the governor, to talk about their very different views of the future.
KING: And if you're first lady, what will be your main endeavor?
A. GORE: I'm going to continue to passionately advocate for mental health: access to treatment, parity in insurance programs for mental health, and also helping people out of homelessness and out of poverty.
KING: Mental health patients don't get the same insurance breaks, right, that people with kidney infections get?
T. GORE: No, they don't. They suffer some discrimination there. They get less insurance coverage, and I think that's wrong, because mental health issues should be considered health issues
KING: Are you going to campaign seven days a week?
A. GORE: No, I'll take some time off to -- to...
KING: Smell the roses.
A. GORE: ... catch up on my sleep.
KING: So you're not going to be...
A. GORE: But toward the end I might. Toward the end of the race I might. But...
KING: Do you enjoy this? Do you enjoy campaigning?
We only have 30 seconds.
Do you like this?
T. GORE: I do enjoy campaigning. People are energized, they care about their country, they care about making life better, they want to know about what he thinks of the future and how he's going to lead this country and how he's going to make life better for them.
And I enjoy the opportunity to tell that a little bit about what he's like as a human being. He's a great guy.
KING: And we enjoy having you on. Always great seeing you, Tipper.
A. GORE: Thank you. Best to Shawn and the children.
KING: Same (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to the grandchild. Aha.
A. GORE: Aha.
T. GORE: Thank you.
KING: Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore. Tomorrow night, political humor.
I'm Larry King in Washington. Good night.
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