tv 1984 Presidential Candidates First Debate CSPAN September 26, 2016 1:13am-2:57am EDT
whether he is having a night where he is aggressive or contentious, a lot of insults flying back and forth. i have never seen a candidate who can single-handedly kind of set the storyline the we donald trump can or did during the republican debate. but hillary clinton is a very, very skillful debater and settings like this. not only did i do the candidate debate with her in 2007, she comes to these things extremely well prepared. so this is going to be fascinating if the, you know, irresistible force is moving the unmovable object here. host national political : correspondent for the washington post. you can
check out her work online at washington post.com. joining us from the newsroom. thank you, as always. guest: thank you.
host: live coverage of the debates coming up. monday's debate on the campus of hofstra university. moderator, lester holt. the first of three debates between hillary clinton and donald trump. the vice presidential debate will take place in virginia. cbs news will moderate that forum. the second presidential debate is a townhall meeting. anderson cooper of cnn and martha raddatz- of abc news. undecided voters elected by the gallup organization to questions via social media in the campus of washington university. final day come october 19, moderated by chris wallace. the campus of the university of nevada las vegas. >> c-span,
created by america's table television companies and brought you as a public service by your cable or satellite
provider. mr. trump: once more, we will have a government of, by, and or the. matter what,no remember this -- love trumps hate. debatefirst presidential on monday night live from new york beginning at 7:30 p.m. eastern with a preview of the debate. the, at a: 30, a preview of debate. at 9:00 p.m., live coverage of the debate followed by viewer reaction. demand atime on c-span.org or listen live on the receipt and radio. >> chelsea clinton took heart in a townhall meeting yesterday on the campus of jenks down state university in ohio.
she outlined her mother's plans. this is about 45 minutes. sally field: thank you. thank you so much. thank you for being here. i was not sure what the crowd would be like. i was saying to chelsea, are these like all millennials? they will not want to hear from me. >> we like you, we really like you! >> there you go excavation point sally thank you. : [applause] i am here because the two candidates running for president are not comparable. not in any way. one of them is a brilliant, experienced stateswoman who is the most qualified, highly prepared presidential candidate of all time. [applause] sally field: and one of them is a huckster and a fraud. and what is at stake is our country.
our children. our grandchildren. this is the most important time, certainly of my life. as chelsea knows, i have been passionately supporting hillary clinton for a long time. and let me tell you why -- in 1995, i was in beijing. i was out with the ngos working for "save the children." i had my 21-year-old son with me because it was my way of seducing him back into my life. he was 21 and said -- i have had enough of you -- [laughter] sally: so i was offered this trip by "save the children" to go to nepal and then go to the beijing women's conference. so i invited my son eli who would go as ahe vagabond. the trip changed our lives. and while we were standing out
there in a muddy pit where we were sent as a nongovernmental group, they did not want to hear what we had to say and what women were screaming about all over the world. the human rights issues that were aggressively being abused. but i was there with thousands and thousands of women from all over the world and we stood there in the mud puddle and i swear to you, it was like a game of telephone because we had no cell phones, we had no loudspeaker, we felt like a ripple, the reverberations of what hillary clinton had done. women's rights are human rights. and human rights are women's rights. once and for all. [applause] sally field: she said it again in 2011 at the u.n. at the international human rights day. and she said gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.
[cheers] sally: at that time in china, she was first lady and she felt a lot of pressure to not do that both internally from our government and externally from the chinese government to soften her remarks and she did not. she said it and it was the first time anything like that had been said and it changed my life and it has changed the world and i know it has to keep going. ohio, i love ohio. ohio, i have a grateful part of my heart that belongs to ohio. when i was a very young actor i was trying to transition out of television and no one wanted anything to do with me. and i spent a summer here in stock.doing summer and it was the transition point between television, situational
comedy, and serious roles in films and doing norma rae and onward and abraham lincoln. and it was the strength in the support, i swear, that i felt in every city in ohio. they gave me strength. they gave me support. and it is that very same strength and support that hillary clinton needs right now. you are the hearts of america. please know what is at stake in this election. please know. my son -- i have children that are grown and have gone to college and grad school. i have one son that is still in grad school. i have a granddaughter who is a freshman in college. and i know what most of you who are in college or what your parents have had to do to get a college education for your children. and you have had to take on debts that you are still paying and that your children will be paying perhaps for the rest of their lives.
it is not right and it must come to an end. applause] sally my son, who is 27, my : youngest, he said -- please, let me write something. please. i will do anything. i will do anything. i need to write something. ok, ok i said. so he wrote this and i am going to read it to you. her opponent is not just against the kind of progress that we all strive for. he wants to take everything from this country that makes us great. his idea of making america great again is an america that looks a lot like a certain russian dictatorship that he seems to be so fond of. electing donald trump would not just put a halt to all that we have fought for, it would put an end to this country, full stop. if you care about progressive values, affordable health care, affordable education, about paid
family leave, about lgbt rights, about human rights, about curing climate change, about stopping reckless wall street behavior, about saving this country from an egotistical, two -- wannabe the masquerading in an orange human suit, then there is only one candidate and that is hillary rodham clinton for the next president of the united states. [applause] sally field: i have no daughters. i have only sons. i have two granddaughters who are on their way to being wonderful young women. but if i had a daughter, i would
paint it and have it look like that. [applause] sally: that would be my perfect choice. she is a powerful and important voice for this country and a powerful and important voice for her mother. chelsea clinton. [applause] [cheering] chelsea clinton: thank you. oh, thank you. oh, gosh. thank you, sally. i mean, i sort of think i should have been your warm-up act. i mean -- she is amazing. thank you for using your platform and raising your voice. you shared that you think this is the most important election of your lifetime. i certainly think it is the most important election in my lifetime. because, i believe that everything i care most about is
at risk. and i feel that way in part , because i am now a parent. my daughter charlotte turns two on monday. [cheers] chelsea: and oh, thank you for cheering for charlotte. and my son aidan is three months old. thank you, i am glad he got some love, too. and thank you for giving me some love as well. this is incredibly affirming. thank you. but truly on a serious note, i , feel so intensely about this election and it feels so personal to me because i am now a parent. and so, as proud as i am of my mom and as fiercely grateful daughter, thiser election is so important to me because i am now a parent. even if i weren't a parent, this would be the most important election of my lifetime because
everything that sally shared that her son is worried about, i am worried about. so i want to share a little bit about a couple of things i am particularly focused on right now and then open it up to your questions, your parenting advice -- [laughter] journal c: compliments, truly. anything you want to share. but i just want to talk about a couple of angst that i have been thinking about today. sally mentioned women's rights are really at stake in this election. one of the things that i find so kind of clear about my mom's position on women's rights is -- that she is, yes, always talking about women's right in the same way as when she is talking about the economy. she is always talking about women and families. she understands that we cannot
separate these issues because they are intimately connected. so when she is talking about , paid family and medical leave, one of the many big differences between her and her opponent, she is, yes, talking about those of us who delivered children the old-fashioned way. she is also talking about those who adopt children. those who foster children. same-sex couples. she also knows that childbirth is not the only medical event we may have in our lives. sometimes we get sick. sometimes we need to support our grandparents, our parents, our loved ones who get sick or who get hurt. when mr. trump talks about family leave, it is only for women who have given birth the old-fashioned way. it is only for six weeks. it is only part of a paycheck from unemployment insurance. that is not my mother's vision
at all. her vision is that we should all be able to take three months of paid family leave whether we have a child, whether we get hurt, whether someone we love needs our support. because that to her is an american value. so while, yes, it is often women who are the caregivers, men need to be part of this as well. [applause] chelsea: and that is what she means when she talks about "stronger together." because it is not just a slogan. and it matters to me that when my mom talks about raising the minimum wage, it is yes, about raising the minimum wage, it is certainly not in mr. trump's view that wages are already too high. it is about raising the minimum wage, finally guaranteeing equal pay for equal work for women.
and also, guaranteeing equal pay for americans with disabilities. because it is still legal in our country in 2016, it is still legal in the united states of america to pay americans with disabilities less than one-third of the federal minimum wage. i mean, how many of you actually knew that? that is structural legal discrimination that has no place in our country. and so it matters to me when my mom talks about raising the minimum wage, she knows that if we do not raise the minimum wage, for everyone, we are not living up to our values as a country and that is a women's issue, too. and, we need a president who understands that the economy is a family issue and a women's issue. and that things that are often viewed as women's issues or family issues are also economic issues. the second thing i have been thinking about a lot this week
is that this week is overdose awareness week. now, arguably every week should be opioid and heroin overdose awareness week. because we are in a crisis in our country. we now lose more people to -- than we doand to car crashes. that is not our country either. my mother is the only person who has a serious plan in response to this painfully serious crisis. she thinks the federal government must invest more in prevention particularly working in high schools and colleges.wee prevention work and working with doctors and nurses practitioners so that people are prescribing the pain medicine that is needed
but not the pain medicine that is not. we need to be providing federal funds so that everyone who wants treatment gets it. because there are clinics across the country, including here in ohio, that have months of waiting time where people are saying -- i want help and there is no room in the inn. that is not our country either. when people want help we say -- how can we help? and -- we will get through this together. [applause] clinton: mr. trump does not have any plans on this or at least he didn't when i looked on his website last night. [laughter] clinton: so it matters to me that my mom knows that we have a lot of unfinished business when it comes to paid family and medical leave but also the job of the president is to be able to respond to the new crises that present themselves. and our opioid and heroin
epidemic is a crisis that deserves a response from our president, and so, i could not agree more with sally that there are very clear differences. i also own that i am deeply biased. [laughter] chelsea clinton: i mean, i hope that my daughter and son someday feel as proud of me as i do about my mom. i remember watching that speech that sally talked about -- [applause] clinton: and i remember when the chinese actually blocked her out. people in china could not watch her give that speech because the chinese government did not allow it to be shown. but my mother has a long track record of standing up for what is right. and standing up to bullies. and i think --
[applause] chelsea clinton: that also is yet another reason i am so proud to be her daughter. because, before i open it up to your questions, comments or advice -- i do just want to say that i never thought i would see in my lifetime, the almost normalization of hate speech. that we are watching from mr. trump, from his campaign. the regular, painful diet of racism, sexism, and rhetoric against americans with disabilities and the mocking of our veterans, and the mocking of a gold star family? >> that is not acceptable. chelsea clinton: that is not the country that i want for my children, for sally's grandchildren, or any of our children, grandchildren or our future.
so i am going to do everything i can between now and the registration deadline here in ohio on october 11, and then between october 12 and election day to get as many people as possible to register and talk about what is at stake in this election, everything, to make the case on behalf of of my mom so that we do wake up on november 9 knowing that we will move forward together. so just thank you all for what so many of you are doing already. thank you for anything and everything you can between now and election day. and while you are thinking about what you want to ask or share, please give my mom's organizers and supporters across the state a big round of applause for everything they are doing every hour of every day. thank you so much. [applause] clinton: questions? yes. >> what would your mom do with
the deaf community to give them opportunities? because most of us do not have any opportunities. chelsea clinton: thank you for your question. thank you for being here. and thank you to the translator. at every one of my mom's events she has a translator so people can hear directly from her in whatever way they need to hear. as you may have seen on wednesday, i think it was wednesday, but i have been a lot of places this week so i apologize if it was tuesday or thursday, but i think it was wednesday. but at some point this week my mom made a speech outlining her agenda regarding what we need to do to ensure that americans with disabilities are supported at every stage with education. career, and life, so a few things. one, she thinks we need more support in the school system. and that the federal government should be providing support
directly to schools that have a disproportionate percentage of high title i students. so title i is the free and reduced lunch plan for low income students and it is the best metric we have for poverty in a school district. so that school districts can hire more special education teachers with more training, more social workers, more nurses, so that students are fully supported. two, we also need to be providing more support to community colleges and colleges so that it is possible for deaf students to enroll wherever the limits of your ambition and talents take you so that doors are not automatically closed against you and that we are working to open doors. that is good for all of us. we all want to be capturing the full measure of our country's full potential. and then, the final point is one
that i mentioned earlier. we have to eliminate the legal wage discrimination against americans with disabilities. because we know that is having an impact both on minimum wage workers, that it has a depressing effect on non-minimum wage workers as well. because you deserve as everyone deserves in our country to be paid equal to your energy, effort, talents, and your investment, but i hope you will go online and look at the full earlierhat she outlined this week. thank you. yes? [applause] chelsea clinton: in the backward hat. [laughter] >> good afternoon, mrs. clinton. chelsea clinton: you can call me chelsea. >> i have too much respect to do that. this summer the dea was looking to reschedule the class of marijuana specifically with regard to medical marijuana so institutions could do more
research on it, and we have seen that many children with epilepsy have dealt with the effects of cbd. many times when the question has , been asked of your mother, she has not been as specific about where she might stand about rescheduling marijuana, and there could be more research. i wonder if you have any more information? chelsea clinton: she has been clear, so i am sorry it has not seemed that way in her answers, so please go to her website. one of the challenges with the experiments happening around the country at the state level, and she supports states in making whatever choices they think are the recreational or medical uses of marijuana, and we have no real way to study them. so anecdotally we have a lot of evidence in the area you talked about, in epilepsy, autism, in stimulating appetite for people that are on intensive
chemotherapy regimens for people , who have non-epilepsy seisure disorders and challenges, but we also have anecdotal evidence now from colorado where some of the people who were taking marijuana for those purposes, the coroner believed after they died, there was drug interaction with other things they were taking. and so one of the reasons we , need rigorous studying is that we want to know where it works and where it does not because probably there are some areas where it works and probably some areas where it does not. some areas where we think it has medical uses, but one of the reasons the fda has such rigorous testing and one of the reasons our fda approval process is the gold standard for the world is the rigorous study of interactosed drugs with other drugs, both over-the-counter drugs and
prescription drugs. that is why when we get a prescription, there are warnings. like do not use heavy machinery or drive. some are really explicit instructions. if you are taking these four drugs, please make sure your doctor knows this. so people who might benefit have the chance to benefit, and ,eople who might be in danger so my mom strongly supports the need for more rigorous study and addressing everything that may have medicinal purpose. the approval, scrutiny, and, ultimately, regulation. thank you for your question. >> sally, thank you for coming to youngstown. you are just as beautiful now as you have ever been. [applause] chelsea, i used to live in pennsylvania, and i was county
chairman for 16 years. for eight hours to have your mother and father come to speak at erie. i do not think the polls are being representative. i talked to hundreds of people every day, and they are all for your mom, so i do not believe the polls, i really do not. chelsea: thank you for coming out. make sure everyone comes out and votes. thank you. so many questions. yes, ma'am, in the glasses. >> how are you doing? chelsea clinton: i'm great. how are you? >> i am doing fine. my name is janice. my name is janice and i have my daughter, my baby daughter here and my granddaughter vivian. i feel this is a historical moment, and i wanted them to share it with me. how comeuestion is they are not making mr. trump
turn his taxes in if it is the rule? it is the rule from my understanding that he must do that. because when president bush was running, i remember, he was just a little slow turning them in and they stayed on him. in, so thised them is not setting too good of an example. ma'am, ilinton: well, do not think he sets a good example any day, and i agree. is not a role, although it has been customary for longer than i have been alive for people running for president to return.their tax my mother's tax returns are in the public domain from 1977 onward. it is a big difference. that's also longer than i have been alive. [laughter]
yes, ma'am.ton: >> a question about health care. thank you. the cost of health care has gone up dramatically for middle-class people, especially in this area, along with prescriptions. what is your mother going to do about looking into that and the price we have to pay? chelsea clinton: thank you for asking about the cost of medical insurance and prescriptions, and as you may or may not know, my mom fought for health care coverage back in 1993, which i remember vividly, and i remember when it did not work out. part of her original plan was to negotiate with drug companies so medicare, on behalf of the tens of millions of americans in medicare, would be using to its major purchasing power to track down the cost of prescriptions for people on medicare. and the thinking goes that is good for people on
medicare but also good for people not on medicare yet. i would like to think i'm not on medicare yet. medicare trying to that medicare pricing is transparent. you can go online to the health and human services website right now and see how much medicare pays for certain things in this area. it would be hard for drug companies to charge those of us not on medicare yet even three times as much as they would be charging medicare, much less 300 times. so that is the first thing we have to get done. unlike when my mom was fighting for this back in 1993, there was bipartisan movement to empower the v.a. to do that on behalf of veterans, so now the v.a. , negotiates with the full weight of all of our veterans much lower drug costs. a lot of republicans supported that. if they supported it for our
veterans, we should remind them of their support and to support this on behalf of our seniors and all americans, so that is the first thing. on the second point, we have to protect the affordable care act, thefinish the part of "affordable." and one of the reasons we have to protect the affordable care act is the coverage expansion of 20 million americans, that is not just a statistic. that is people's lives, and one kind of point that really illustrates that that means a lot to me as someone who is twicea relatively new mom over is that in 2015, we have pregnant women access the full complement of prenatal health care services and more women deliver their babies in safe environments with midwives and birthing areas in hospitals than at any other point in american history, and that is one of the impacts of the affordable care
act. but out-of-pocket expenses, as well as insurance premiums have gone up too quickly. and so what my mom believes, and , this is outlined in detail on her website, is that middle-class americans and working-class americans should get tax credits to defray and cap their out-of-pocket insurance and premium costs. every month. and so, hopefully, that will get us to the affordable part of the at, but wecare cannot go back, and we cannot start over. yes, sir. you have had your hand up. >> i'm a first timer, it's good to see you. chelesa. when i watched the commercial of donald trump on television i , have a question about your mom. does your mother plan to raise the minimal rage for us with
disabilities? clinton: yes, sir. this is something we have talked about twice so far this morning because she feels strongly about this. we can't have legal wage discrimination. it is outrageous, it is un-american, and it is something i hear her talk about consistently. whenever she talks about raising the minimum wage, it is raising the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work for women, equal pay for equal work for americans with disabilities. thank you for asking that. we have to keep shining the light on that. yes, ma'am? [applause] >> their people who claim hillary will -- how do you respond to people who claim hillary wants to take their guns? chelsea clinton: good question. i hope they listen to my mom's convention speech, which she said, "i am not going to take your guns."
that being said, she thinks they do need sensible gun control measures. and what she is proposing, the vast majority of gun owners in every survey have said they support, including in many instances the majority of nra members, so she has a few things that she thinks we need to do. she thinks we need universal one, background checks, and we need to close the tragically now known charleston loophole, so the charleston loophole is watch enabled the shooter in charleston to walk into the , and il baptist church do not want to say his name, because i do not want to give him any support, and the loophole is known because he went to buy guns and right now if your background check has been processed in three days you not are automatically approved. so if the gun store you are
walking into has an internet connection that isn't working, or there is some disruption in the local telecom system, or if the fbi has a big backlog, you are automatically approved. that's outrageous. so she wants to close that some background checks are actual background checks. and they take as long as they need to. that has a lot of support. not surprisingly, from law enforcement, so that is one. we have to close the charleston loophole, and we need a universal background check system. so we need to close the gun show loophole, as well. that has support from gun owners. legal, law abiding gun owners, similar to those of us who are legal, law abiding non-gun peoplewho do not what who should not have guns to have
them. that is one. she strongly believes in the and weild safety locks, need to introduce the technology that now exists for fingerprint identification so that only the person who is registered to use the gun can use the gun. this is hugely important. there is a reason they are called child safety locks. we had a week this year -- already in 2016, we had one week where we have six children under dieage of six accidentally because they found their parents grandparents' guns. this is also something that has a lot of support from law enforcement, because the vast majority of guns used to commit crimes are stolen. so, similarly, those of us who
do not own guns and those of us who do own guns shouldn't want stolen guns to be used in crimes. so that is what she is trying to do. she is not trying to take away any guns from any law-abiding person. to she does think we want prevent people who are not law-abiding from getting them. the third and final point is surely people who are on the terrorist watch list should not be allowed to buy guns in our country. if you cannot get on an airplane, you should not be allowed to buy a gun, so i hope that helps you answer that question. [applause] oh, gosh.inton: i'm just too in my random scan around the room. >> i really applaud your mother's wisdom in taking on the oil industry. i want to talk about some other presidents. jimmy carter put solar panels on the roof. mrs. johnson started the beautify america campaign. only like to encourage bill to embroider sweaters and other things of that store -- that
sort, so he will have an energy related activity. is he able to come out and start using his tremendous charisma to be a good first husband and get us on a better path for better energy? including bicycles at the white house, i hope. chelsea clinton: thank you. i will tell him i met someone who thinks he should take up embroidery. [laughter] chelsea clinton: i don't know if he had any talents in that area. i do not know that he has ever tried, but if he takes you up on that offer i promise to share it on social media. on your question about climate change, my mom has this sort of old-fashioned view that we should listen to this find is true on climate change. that is true on vaccines. that is true on medical marijuana. that is true on many things that got politicized that should not be political questions, and so i hope you will look at her
comprehensive clean energy agenda, and that she thinks we need to be investing actually in turn coalry to country into clean energy country. and one of his jobs and energy to the communities, whose job in energy helps build our country. you ask about my dad. a lot of people as my parents about what kind of role my dad might have in the white house. knock on wood. mom wins, with your help my mom has said three things. ,one of which relates to your earlier suggestion. one, that she will look for his help on the economy, because in the 1990's we created 23 million new jobs, and average incomes rose and rose and rose. across the country in cities and
, suburban areas and rural areas, north south, east, west. in democrat and republican congressional districts alike. two, she would look for his advice in a way that president obama and president bush both looked to his advice in parts of the world where he has a deep knowledge and useful perspective. so publicly both president bush , and president obama said they have talked my dad in northern ireland, for example because he , helped negotiate the peace in northern ireland. and then she says this both in a andree, -- both joking non-joking, she wouldn't consultant on things like china patterns and flowers. but maybe if he takes up embroidery she will have to change her mind. [laughter] chelsea clinton: oh, gosh. so many questions. yes, in the blue.
>> first of all, thank you so much, chelsea, from coming. it is an honor to meet you. i was wondering what your mother may do if republicans hold either at house or senate. and we have had eight years of gridlock because they have planned on it. do she have a plan on how to break that if that happens again? chelsea clinton: i would say that i think president obama doesn't get enough credit for all he has actually managed to get done. [applause] chelsea clinton: what he has managed to get done, kind of thinking about the last question. we have celebrated the 100th anniversary of the national park service. he protected more land than any president in american history. so i think he has gotten a lot done that doesn't get the headlines or attention or the gratitude that it deserves. to your question about my mom butto your question about my mom specifically, my mom, i think,
has a strong, and i think surprisingly strong record of being able to make progress with republicans when there is common ground. she also clearly can't stand her ground when necessary, but she is able to find common ground. just a couple of examples. when she was first lady she , worked with a man named tom delay. and for those of you -- many of you are nodding warheads, but -- nodding your head, but for those of you who are younger than i am, fair to think of him as the grandfather or the godfather of the tea party movement. a very conservative republican. they work together to overhaul adoption out of the foster care system. and 15 years later, there are literally tens of thousands of young people who have been adopted out of the system who would not have been able to be adopted if they did not do that. my mom worked with lindsey graham, republican from south carolina and others to expand the v.a. system, to include all
of our national guard and reservists to serve our country overseas, so that when they come home they and their families can be fully integrated into the v.a. system, so that we are the service of all of our servicemen and women, so i think that what someone has done is a pretty good predictor of what they will be able to do. i would also argue that what somebody has not done is a pretty good predictor of what they have not done, so thank you for your questions. oh, gosh. yes, sir? >> i would like to make a comment. what bothers me is that trump gets on tv and he bad mouths your mama, he never comes up and says what his plan is to do anything for the country. all he is doing is bad mouthing, and it is sickening, and i'm tired of hearing it. i do not want him running for president.
something we do not need. [applause] clinton: i just got the sign we need to wrap up. so i'm going to use what you said as sort of a springboard to finish. i agree. president,ning for part of the responsibility of having been given the opportunity to run for president is to tell the american people what exactly you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and how you are going to pay for it once you are president, so i agree and i also agree that what he says, what his campaign says, including here in ohio, is deeply troubling. and if you are all as troubled by that as i am, the answer is
as the button right in front of me says, that "love trumps hate." voting, so,at by please, talk to everyone you know and to everyone you do not know about getting registered and turning out to vote on election day. thank you all so very very much. [cheers and applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [no audio] announcer go to c-span.org : monday evening for the presidential debates on your desktop, phone, or tablet. watch live streams of the debate and video on demand of their every question to the candidates
and their answers. use video tools to create clips of your favorite debate moments to share in social media. not able to watch? listen to the debate live on the c-span radio app. it is free to download on the app store and on google play. coverage of the presidential debates on c-span.org and on the c-span app. announcer: in 1980 became the debate hisdent to opponent. lyndon johnson and richard nixon in 1972 refused to debate. in first presidential debate 1984 was at the kentucky center for the arts in louisville. this is about one hour and 45 minutes. [applause]
ms. ridings: good evening from the kentucky center for the arts in louisville, kentucky. i'm dorothy ridings, president of the league of women voters, the sponsor of tonight's first presidential debate between republican ronald reagan and democrat walter mondale. tonight's debate marks the third consecutive presidential election in which the league is presenting the candidates for the nation's highest office in face-to-face debate. our panelists are james wieghart, national political correspondent for scripps-howard news service, diane sawyer, correspondent for the cbs program "60 minutes," and fred barnes, national political correspondent for "the baltimore sun." barbara walters of abc news, who is appearing in her fourth presidential debate, is our moderator.
barbara. ms. walters: thank you, dorothy. a few words as we begin tonight's debate about the format. the position of the candidates, that is, who answers questions first and who gives the last statement, was determined by a toss of a coin between the two candidates. mr. mondale won, and that means that he chose to give the final closing statement. it means, too, that the president will answer the first question first. i hope that's clear. if it isn't, it will become clear as the debate goes on. further, the candidates will be addressed as they each wanted and will, therefore, be called "mr. president'' and "mr. mondale." since there will also be a second debate between the two presidential candidates, tonight will focus primarily on the economy and other domestic issues.
the debate, itself, is built around questions from the panel. in each of its segments, a reporter will ask the candidates the same general question. then, and this is important, each candidate will have the chance to rebut what the other has said. and the final segment of the debate will be the closing segment, and the candidates will each have minutes for their four closing statements. and as i have said, mr. mondale will be the last person on the program to speak. and now i would like to add a personal note if i may. as dorothy ridings pointed out, i have been involved now in four presidential debates, either as a moderator or as a panelist. in the past, there was no problem in selecting panelists. tonight, however, there were to have been four panelists participating in this debate. the candidates were given a list of almost 100 qualified journalists from all the media and could agree on only these three fine journalists. as moderator, and on behalf of my fellow journalists, i very much regret, as does the league of women voters, that this situation has occurred. and now let us begin the debate
, with the first question from james wieghart. mr. wieghart. mr. wieghart: mr. president, in 1980 you promised the american people, in your campaign, a balanced budget by 1983. we've now had more and bigger deficits in the four years you have been in office. mr. president, do you have a secret plan to balance the budget sometime in a second term, and if so, would you lay out that plan for us tonight? president reagan: i have a plan, not a secret plan. as a matter of fact, it is the economic recovery program that we presented when i took office in 1981. it is true that earlier, working with some very prominent economists, i had come up, during the campaign, with an economic program that i thought could rectify the great problems confronting us, the double-digit inflation, the high tax rates that i think were hurting the economy, the stagflation that we
were undergoing. before even the election day, something that none of those economists had even predicted had happened, that the economy was so worsened that i was openly saying that what we had thought on the basis of our plan could have brought a balanced budget, no, that was no longer possible. so the plan that we have had and that we are following is a plan that is based on growth in the economy, recovery without inflation, and reducing the share that the government is taking from the gross national product, which has become a drag on the economy. already, we have a recovery that has been going on for about 21 months to the point that we can now call it an expansion. under that, this year, we have seen a $21 billion reduction in the deficit from last year,
based mainly on the increased revenues the government is getting without raising tax rates. our tax cut, we think, was very instrumental in bringing about this economic recovery. we have reduced inflation to about a third of what it was. the interest rates have come down about 9 or 10 points and, we think, must come down further. in the last 21 months, more than 6 million people have gotten jobs. there have been created new jobs for those people to where there are now 105 million civilians working, where there were only 99 million before, 107, if you count the military. so we believe that as we continue to reduce the level of government spending, the increase, rate of increase in government spending, which has from 17% to 6%, and at
the same time as the growth in , the economy increases the revenues the government gets, without raising taxes, those two lines will meet. and when they meet, that is a balanced budget. mr. wieghart: mr. president, the congressional budget office has some bad news. the lines aren't about to meet, according to their projections. they project that the budget deficit will continue to climb. in the year 1989, they project a budget deficit of $273 billion. in view of that, and in view of the economic recovery we are now enjoying, would it make sense to propose a tax increase or take some other fiscal measures to reduce that deficit now, when times are relatively good? president reagan the deficit is a result. it is the result of excessive government spending. i do not, very frankly, take seriously the congressional budget office projections, because they have been wrong on
virtually all of them, including the fact that our recovery wasn't going to take place to begin with. but it has taken place. but, as i said, we have the rate of increase in government spending down to 6%. if the rate of increase in government spending can be held at 5%, we're not far from there, by 1989 that would have reduced the budget deficits down to a $30 billion or $40 billion level. at the same time, if we can have a 4% recovery continue through that same period of time, that will mean, without an increase in tax rates, that will mean $400 billion more in government revenues. and so, i think that the lines can meet. actually, in constant dollars, in the domestic side of the budget, there has been no spending increase in the four years that we have been here. mr. wieghart: mr. mondale, the carter-mondale administration didn't come close to balancing
the budget in its four's -- four years in office either, despite the fact that president carter did promise a balanced budget during his term. you have proposed a plan combining tax increases and budgetary cuts and other changes in the administration of the government that would reduce the projected budget deficit by two-thirds, to approximately $87 billion in 1989. that still is an enormous deficit that will be running for these four years. what other steps do you think should be taken to reduce this deficit and position the country for economic growth? mr. mondale: one of the key tests of leadership is whether one sees clearly the nature of the problems confronted by our nation. and perhaps the dominant
domestic issue of our times is what do we do about these enormous deficits. i respect the president. i respect the presidency and i , think he knows that. but the fact of it is, every estimate by this administration about the size of the deficit has been off by billions and billions of dollars. as a matter of fact, over they've missed the mark by four years, nearly $600 billion. we were told we would have a balanced budget in 1983. it was $200 billion deficit instead. and now we have a major question facing the american people as to whether we'll deal with this deficit and get it down for the sake of a healthy recovery. virtually every economic analysis that i've heard of, including the distinguished congressional budget office, which is respected by, i think, almost everyone, says that even
with historically high levels of economic growth, we will suffer a $263 billion deficit. in other words, it doesn't converge as the president suggests. it gets larger even with growth. what that means is that we will continue to have devastating problems with foreign trade. this is the worst trade year in american history by far. our rural and farm friends will have continued devastation. real interest rates, the real cost of interest, will remain very, very high, and many economists are predicting that we're moving into a period of very slow growth because the economy is tapering off and may be a recession. i get it down to a level below 2 % of gross national product with
a policy that is fair. i've stood up and told the american people that i think it's a real problem, that it can destroy long-term economic growth, and i've told you what i think should be done. i think this is a test of leadership, and i think the american people know the difference. mr. wieghart: mr. mondale, one other way to attack the deficit is further reductions in spending. the president has submitted a number of proposals to congress to do just that, and in many instances the house, controlled by the democrats, has opposed them. isn't it one aspect of leadership for prominent democrats such as yourself to encourage responsible reductions in spending, and thereby reduce the deficit? mr. mondale: absolutely, and i proposed over 100 billion dollars in cuts in federal spending over four years, but i am not going to cut it out of social security and medicare and
student assistance and things that people need. [applause] mondale: these people depend upon all of us for the little security that they have, and i'm not going to do it that way. the rate of defense spending increase can be slowed. certainly we can find a coffeepot that costs something less than $7,000. and there are other ways of squeezing this budget without constantly picking on our senior citizens and the most vulnerable in american life. and that's why the congress, including the republicans, have not gone along with the president's recommendations. ms. walters: i would like to ask the audience please to refrain from applauding either side, it just takes away from the time for your candidates. and now it is time for the , rebuttal. mr. president, one minute for rebuttal. president reagan: yes. i don't believe that mr. mondale has a plan for balancing the budget, he has a plan for raising taxes. and, as a matter of fact, the biggest single tax increase in our nation's history took place
1977. and for the five years previous to our taking office, taxes doubled in the united states, and the budgets increased $318 billion. so there is no ratio between taxing and balancing a budget. whether you borrow the money or whether you simply tax it away from the people, you're taking the same amount of money out of the private sector, unless and until you bring down government's share of what it is taking. with regard to social security, i hope there'll be more time than just this minute to mention that, but i will say this. a president should never say tover," but i'm going violate that rule and say "never." i will never stand for a reduction of the social security benefits to the people that are now getting them. [applause]
ms. walters: mr. mondale? mr. mondale: well, that's exactly the commitment that was made to the american people in 1980. he would never reduce benefits. and of course, what happened right after the election is they proposed to cut social security benefits by 25% reducing the , adjustment for inflation, cutting out minimum benefits for the poorest on social security, removing educational benefits for dependents whose widows were trying, with widows trying to get them through college. everybody remembers that. people know what happened. there's a difference. i have fought for social security and medicare and for things to help people who are vulnerable all my life, and i will do it as president of the united states. ms. walters: thank you very much. we'll now begin with segment number two with my colleague, diane sawyer. ms. sawyer? ms. sawyer: mr. president, mr. mondale, the public opinion polls do suggest that the american people are most concerned about the personal leadership characteristics of the two candidates, and each of
you has questioned the other's leadership ability. mr. president, you have said that mr. mondale's leadership would take the country down the path of defeatism and despair, and vice president bush has "whining" and "hoping for bad news." and, mr. mondale, you have said that president reagan offers showmanship, not leadership, that he has not mastered what he must know to command his government. i'd like to ask each of you to substantiate your claims, mr. mondale first. give us specifics to support your claim that president reagan is a showman, not a leader, has not mastered what he must know to be president after four years, and then, second, tell us what personal leadership characteristics you have that he does not. mr. mondale: well, first of all, i think the first answer this evening suggests exactly what i'm saying. there is no question that we face this massive deficit, and almost everybody agrees unless we get it down, the chances for long-term, healthy growth are nil. and it's also unfair to dump
these tremendous bills on our children. the president says it will disappear overnight because of some reason. no one else believes that's the case. i do, and i'm standing up to the issue with an answer that's fair. i think that's what leadership is all about. there's a difference between being a quarterback and a cheerleader, and when there's a real problem, a president must confront it. what i was referring to, of course, in the comment that you referred to was the situation in lebanon. now, for three occasions, one after another, our embassies were assaulted in the same way by a truck with demolitions. the first time, and i did not criticize the president, because these things can happen, once, and sometimes twice, the second time the barracks in lebanon were assaulted, as we all
remember, there was two or three commission reports, recommendations by the cia, the state department, and the others, and the third time there was even a warning from the terrorists themselves. now, i believe that a president must command that white house and those who work for him. it's the toughest job on earth, and you must master the facts and insist that things that must be done are done. i believe that the way in which i will approach the presidency is what is needed, because all of my life, that has been the way in which i have sought to lead. and that's why in this campaign i'm telling you exactly what i want to do, i am answering your provides, i'm trying to leadership now before the election so the american people can participate in that decision.
ms. sawyer: you have said, mr. mondale, that the polls have given you lower ratings on leadership than president reagan because your message has failed to get through. given that you have been in public office for so many years, what accounts for the failure of your message to get through? mr. mondale: well, i think we're getting better all the time. and i think tonight, as we contrast for the first time our differing approach to government, to values, to the leadership in this country, i think as this debate goes forward, the american people will have for the first time a chance to weigh the two of us against each other. and i think, as a part of that process, what i am trying to say will come across, and that is that we must lead, we must command, we must direct, and a president must see it like it is. he must stand for the values of decency that the american people stand for, and he must use the power of the white house to try to control these nuclear weapons and lead this world toward a
safer world. ms. sawyer: mr. president, the issue is leadership in personal terms. first, do you think, as vice president bush said, that mr. mondale's campaign is one of whining and hoping for bad news? and second, what leadership characteristics do you possess that mr. mondale does not? president reagan: well, whether he does or not, let me suggest my own idea about the leadership factor, since you've asked it. and, incidentally, i might say that with regard to the 25% cut in social security, before i get to the answer of your question, the only 25% cut that i know of was accompanying that huge 1977 tax increase, was a cut of 25 % in the benefits for every american who was born after 1916. now, leadership. first of all, i think you must have some principles you believe in. in mine, i happen to believe in the people and believe that the
people are supposed to be dominant in our society, that they, not government, are to have control of their own affairs to the greatest extent possible, with an orderly society. now, having that, i think also that in leadership, well, i believe that you find people, positions such as i'm in who have the talent and ability to do the things that are needed in the various departments of government. i don't believe that a leader should be spending his time in the oval office deciding who's going to play tennis on the white house court. and you let those people go with the guidelines of overall policy, not looking over their shoulder and nitpicking the manner in which they go at the job. you are ultimately responsible, however, for that job. but i also believe something else about that. i believe that, and when i
became governor of california, i started this, and i continue it in this office, that any issue that comes before me, i have instructed cabinet members and staff they are not to bring up any of the political ramifications that might surround the issue. i don't want to hear them. i want to hear only arguments as to whether it is good or bad for the people, is it morally right, and on that basis and that basis alone we make a decision on , every issue. now, with regard to my feeling about why i thought that his record bespoke his possible taking us back to the same things that we knew under the previous administration, his record is that he spoke in praise of deficits several times, said they weren't to be abhorred, that, as a matter of fact, he at one time said he wished the deficit could be
doubled, because they stimulate the economy and helped reduce unemployment. ms. sawyer: as a followup, let me draw in another specific, if i could, a specific that the democrats have claimed about your campaign, that it is essentially based on imagery. and one specific that they allege is that, for instance, recently you showed up at the opening ceremony of a buffalo old-age housing project, when in fact, your policy was to cut federal housing subsidies for the elderly. yet you were there to have your picture taken with them. president reagan: our policy was not to cut subsidies. we have believed in partnership, and that was an example of a partnership between, not only local government and the federal government but also between the private sector that built that particular structure. and this is what we've been trying to do, is involve the federal government in such partnerships. we are today subsidizing housing for more than 10 million people, and we're going to continue
along that line. we have no thought of throwing people out into the snow, whether because of age or need. we have preserved the safety net for the people with true need in this country, and it has been pure demagoguery that we have in some way shut off all the charitable programs or many of them for the people who have real need. the safety net is there, and we're taking care of more people than has ever been taken care of before by any administration in this country. ms. walters: mr. mondale, an opportunity for you to rebut. mr. mondale: well, i guess i'm reminded a little bit of what will rogers once said about hoover. he said, "it's not what he doesn't know that bothers me, it's what he knows for sure that just ain't so." [laughter] mr. mondale: the fact that it is -- the fact of it is the president's budget sought to cut
social security by 25%. it is not an opinion. it's a fact. and when the president was asked the other day, "what do you want ," he saidthe budget "cut those things i asked for get."didn't that's social security and medicare. the second fact is that the housing unit for senior citizens that the president dedicated in buffalo was only made possible through a federal assistance program for senior citizens that the president's budget sought to terminate. so if he'd had his way, there wouldn't have been any housing project there at all. this administration has taken a meat cleaver out, in terms of federal-assisted housing, and the record is there. we have to see the facts before we can draw conclusions. ms. walters: mr. president? president reagan well, let me : just respond with regard to social security. when we took office, we discovered that the program that the carter-mondale administration had said would solve the fiscal problems of social security for the next 50
years wouldn't solve them for five. social security was due to go bankrupt before 1983. any proposals that i made at that time were at the request of the chairman, a democrat, of one of the leading committees, who said we have to do something before the program goes broke and the checks bounce. and so, we made a proposal. and then in 1982, they used that proposal in a demagogic fashion for the 1982 campaign. and three days after the election in 1982, they came to us and said, social security, we know, is broke. indeed, we had to borrow $17 billion to pay the checks. and then i asked for a bipartisan commission, which i'd asked for from the beginning, to sit down and work out a solution. and so, the whole matter of what to do with social security has been resolved by bipartisan legislation, and it is on a sound basis now for as far as you can see into the next century. ms. walters: mr. president, we begin segment number three with fred barnes.
mr. barnes: mr. president, would you describe your religious beliefs, noting particularly whether you consider yourself a born-again christian, and explain how these beliefs affect your presidential decisions? president reagan: well, i was raised to have a faith and a belief and have been a member of a church since i was a small boy. in our particular church, we did not use that term "born again," so i do not know if i would fit that particular term but i have, , thanks to my mother, god rest her soul, the firmest possible belief and faith in god. and i don't believe -- i believe, i should say as lincoln , once said, that i could not, i would be the most stupid man in the world if i thought i could confront the duties of the office i hold if i could not turn to someone who was stronger and greater than all others. and i do resort to prayer. at the same time, however, i
have not believed that prayer should be introduced into an election or be a part of a political campaign, or religion a part of that campaign. as a matter of fact, i think religion became a part of this campaign when mr. mondale's running mate said i wasn't a good christian. so it does play a part in my life. i have no hesitancy in saying so. and, as i say, i don't believe that i could carry on unless i had a belief in a higher authority and a belief that prayers are answered. mr. barnes: given those beliefs, mr. president, why don't you attend services regularly, either by going to church or by inviting a minister to the white house, as president nixon used to do, or someone to camp david, as president carter used to do?
president reagan the answer to : your question is very simple about why i don't go to church. i have gone to church regularly all my life, and i started to here in washington. and now, in the position i hold and in the world in which we live, where embassies do get blown up in beirut, we're supposed to talk about that on the debate the 21st, i understand, but i pose a threat to several hundred people if i go to church. i know the threats that are made against me. we all know the possibility of terrorism. we have seen the barricades that have had to be built around the white house. and, therefore, i don't feel, and my minister knows this and supports me in this position, i don't feel that i have a right to go to church, knowing that my being there could cause something of the kind that we have seen in other places, in beirut, for example. and i miss going to church, but i think the lord understands. [applause] ms. walters: may i ask you,
please -- [applause] ms. walters: may i ask you, please to refrain from applause. fred, your second question. mr. barnes: mr. mondale, would you describe your religious beliefs and mention whether you consider yourself a born-again christian, and explain how those beliefs would affect your decisions as president? mr. mondale: first of all, i accept president reagan's affirmation of faith. i'm sure that we all accept and admire his commitment to his faith, and we are strengthened, all of us, by that fact. i am a son of a methodist minister. my wife is the daughter of a presbyterian minister. and i don't know if i've been born again, but i know i was born into a christian family. and i believe i have sung at more weddings and more funerals than anybody ever to seek the presidency. whether that helps or not, i don't know.
i have a deep religious faith. our family does. it is fundamental. it's probably the reason that i'm in politics. i think our faith tells us, instructs us, about the moral life that we should lead. and i think we're all together on that. what bothers me is this growing tendency to try to use one's own personal interpretation of faith politically, to question other'' faith, and to try to use the instrumentalities of government to impose those views on others. all history tells us that that's a mistake. when the republican platform says that from here on out, we're going to have a religious test for judges before they're selected for the federal court,
and then jerry falwell announces that that means they get at least two justices of the supreme court, i think that's an abuse of faith in our country. this nation is the most religious nation on earth, more people go to church and synagogues than any other nation on earth, and it's because we kept the politicians and the state out of the personal exercise of our faith. that's why faith in the united states is pure and unpolluted by the intervention of politicians. and i think if we want to continue, as i do, to have a religious nation, lets keep that line and never cross it. [applause] ms.walters: thank you. mr. barnes, next question. we have time for rebuttal now. mr. barnes: i think i have a
follow-up. ms.walters: yes, i asked you if you did. i'm sorry, -- mr. barnes: yes, i do. ms.walters:, -- i thought you waived it. mr. barnes: yes, mr. mondale, you've complained, just now, about jerry falwell, and you've complained other times about other fundamentalists in politics. correct me if i'm wrong, but i don't recall your ever complaining about ministers who are involved in the civil rights movement or in the anti-vietnam war demonstrations or about black preachers who've been so involved in american politics. is it only conservative ministers that you object to? mr. mondale: no. what i object to, [applause], what i object to, what i object to is someone seeking to use his faith to question the faith of another or to use that faith and seek to use the power of government to impose it on others. a minister who is in civil rights or in the conservative movement, because he believes his faith instructs him to do that, i admire.
the fact that the faith speaks to us and that we are moral people, hopefully, i accept and rejoice in. it's when you try to use that to undermine the integrity of private political, or private religious faith and the use of the state is where, for the most personal decisions in american life, that's where i draw the line. ms.walters: thank you. now, mr. president, rebuttal. the president: yes, it's very difficult to rebut, because i find myself in so much agreement with mr. mondale. i, too, want that wall that is in the constitution of separation of church and state to remain there. the only attacks i have made are on people who apparently would break away at that wall from the government side, using the government, using the power of the courts and so forth to hinder that part of the constitution that says the government shall not only not establish a religion, it shall not inhibit the practice of religion. and they have been using these things to have government,
through court orders, inhibit the practice of religion. a child wants to say grace in a school cafeteria and a court rules that they can't do it because it's school property. these are they types of things that i think have been happening in a kind of a secular way that have been eroding that separation, and i am opposed to that. with regard to a platform on the supreme court, i can only say one thing about that. i have appointed one member to the supreme court: sandra day o'connor. i'll stand on my record on that. and if i have the opportunity to appoint any more, i'll do it in the same manner that i did in selecting her. ms.walters: mr. mondale, your rebuttal, please. mr. mondale: the platform to which the president refers, in fact, calls for a religious test in the selection of judges. and jerry falwell says that means we get two or three judges. and it would involve a religious test for the first time in american life.
let's take the example that the president cites. i believe in prayer. my family prays. we've never had any difficulty finding time to pray. but do we want a constitutional amendment adopted of the kind proposed by the president that gets the local politicians into the business of selecting prayers that our children must either recite in school or be embarrassed and asked to excuse themselves? who would write the prayer? what would it say? how would it be resolved when those disputes occur? it seems to me that a moment's reflection tells you why the united states senate turned that amendment down, because it will undermine the practice of honest faith in our country by politicizing it. we don't want that. ms. walters: thank you, mr. mondale. our time is up for this round. we go into the second round of our questioning, begin again
with jim wieghart. jim? political issues mr. wieghart: after that discussion, this may be like going from the sublime to the ridiculous, but here goes. i have a political question for you, mr. mondale. [laughter] polls indicate a massive change in the electorate, away from the coalition that has long made the democratic party a majority. blue-collar workers, young professionals, their children, and much of the middle class now regard themselves as independents or republican instead of democrats, and the gap, the edge the democrats had in party registration seems to be narrowing. i'd like to ask you, mr. mondale, what is causing this? is the democratic party out of sync with the majority of americans? and will it soon be replaced as the majority party by the republicans? what do you think needs to be done about it, as a democrat? mr. mondale: my answer is that this campaign isn't over yet. and when people vote, i think
you're going to see a very strong verdict by the american people that they favor the approach that i'm talking about. the american people want arms control. they don't want this arms race. and they don't want this deadly new effort to bring weapons into the heavens. and they want an american foreign policy that leads toward a safer world. the american people see this debt, and they know it's got to come down. and if it won't come down, the economy's going to slow down, maybe go into a recession. they see this tremendous influx and swamping of cheap foreign
imports in this country that has cost over 3 million jobs, given farmers the worst year in american history. and they know this debt must come down as well, because it's unfair to our children. the american people want this environment protected. they know that these toxic waste dumps should have been cleaned up a long time ago, and they know that people's lives and health are being risked, because we've had an administration that has been totally insensitive to the law and the demand for the protection of the environment. the american people want their children educated. they want to get our edge back in science, and they want a policy headed by the president that helps close this gap that's widening between the united states and europe and japan. the american people want to keep opening doors. they want those civil rights laws enforced. they want the equal rights amendment ratified. they want equal pay for comparable effort for women. and they want it because they've
understood from the beginning that when we open doors, we're all stronger, just as we were at the olympics. i think as you make the case, the american people will increasingly come to our cause. mr. wieghart: mr. mondale, isn't it possible that the american people have heard your message, and they are listening, but they are rejecting it? mr. mondale: well, tonight we
had the first debate over the deficit. the president says it'll disappear automatically. i've said it's going to take some work. i think the american people will draw their own conclusions. secondly, i've said that i will not support the cuts in social security and medicare and the rest that the president has proposed. the president answers that it didn't happen or, if it did, it was resolved later in a commission. as the record develops, i think it's going to become increasingly clear that what i am saying and where i want to take this country is exactly where the country wants to go, and the comparison of approaches is such that i think will lead to further strength. mr. wieghart: mr. president, you and your party are benefiting from what appears to be an erosion of the old democratic coalition, but you have not laid out a specific agenda to take this shift beyond november 6th. what is your program for america for the next decade, with some specificity? the president: well, again, i'm running on the record. i think sometimes mr. mondale's running away from his. but i'm running on the record of what we have asked for. we'll continue to try to get things that we didn't get in a program that has already brought the rate of spending of government down from 17 percent to 6.1 percent, a program of returning authority and autonomy to the local and state
governments that has been unjustly seized by the federal government. and you might find those words in a democratic platform of some years ago, i know, because i was a democrat at that time. and i left the party eventually, because i could no longer follow the turn in the democratic leadership that took us down an entirely different path, a path of centralizing authority in the federal government, lacking trust in the american people. i promised, when we took office, that we would reduce inflation.
we have, to one-third of what it was. i promised that we would reduce taxes. we did, 25 percent across the board. that barely held even with, if it did that much, with the gigantic tax increase imposed in 1977. but at least it took that burden away from them. i said that we would create jobs for our people, and we did, 6 million in the last 20 or 21 months. i said that we would become respected in the world once again and that we would refurbish our national defense to the place that we could deal on the world scene and then seek disarmament, reduction of arms, and, hopefully, an elimination of nuclear weapons. we have done that. all of the things that i said we would do, from inflation being down, interest rates being down, unemployment falling, all of those things we have done. and i think this is something the american people see. i think they also know that we had a commission that came in a year ago with a recommendation on education, on excellence in education. and today, without the federal government being involved other than passing on to them, the school districts, the words from that commission, we find 35 states with task forces now
dealing with their educational problems. we find that schools are extending the curriculum to now have forced teaching of mathematics and science and so forth. all of these things have brought an improvement in the college entrance exams for the first time in some 20 years. so, i think that many democrats are seeing the same thing this democrat saw: the leadership isn't taking us where we want to go. mr. wieghart: mr. president, much of what you said affects the quality of life of many americans, their income, the way they live, and so forth, but there's an aspect to quality of life that lies beyond the private sector which has to do with our neighborhoods, our cities, our streets, our parks, our environment. in those areas, i have difficulty seeing what your
program is and what you feel the federal responsibility is in these areas of the quality of life in the public sector that affects everybody, and even enormous wealth by one individual can't create the kind of environment that he might like. the president: there are tasks that government legitimately should enforce and tasks that government performs well, and you've named some of them. crime has come down the last 2 years, for the first time in many, many decades that it has come down, or since we've kept records, 2 consecutive years, and last year it came down the biggest drop in crime that we've had. i think that we've had something to do with that, just as we have with the drug problem nationwide. the environment? yes, i feel as strongly as anyone about the preservation of the environment. when we took office, we found that the national parks were so dirty and contained so many hazards, lack of safety features, that we stopped buying additional park land until we had rectified this with what was to be a 5-year program, but it's just about finished already, a billion dollars. and now we're going back to budgeting for additional lands for our parks.
we have added millions of acres to the wilderness lands, to the game refuges. i think that we're out in front of most, and i see that the red light is blinking, so i can't continue. but i've got more. ms. walters: well, you'll have a chance when your rebuttal time comes up, perhaps, mr. president. mr. mondale, now it's your turn for rebuttal. mr. mondale: the president says that when the democratic party made its turn, he left it. the year that he decided we had lost our way was the year that john f. kennedy was running against richard nixon. i was chairman of "minnesotans
for kennedy," president reagan was chairman of a thing called "democrats for nixon." now, maybe we made a wrong turn with kennedy, but i'll be proud of supporting him all of my life. and i'm very happy that john kennedy was elected, because john kennedy looked at the future with courage, saw what needed to be done, and understood his own government. the president just said that his government is shrinking. it's not. it's now the largest peacetime government ever in terms of the take from the total economy. and instead of retreating, instead of being strong where we should be strong, he wants to make it strong and intervene in the most private and personal questions in american life. that's where government should not be. ms. walters: mr. president? the president: before i campaigned as a democrat for a republican candidate for president, i had already voted for dwight eisenhower to be president of the united states. and so, my change had come earlier than that. i hadn't gotten around to reregistering as yet. i found that was rather difficult to do. but i finally did it. there are some other things that have been said here, back, and
you said that i might be able to dredge them up. mr. mondale referred to the farmers' worst year. the farmers are not the victims of anything this administration has done. the farmers were the victims of the double-digit inflation and the 211/2-percent interest rates of the carter-mondale administration and the grain embargo, which destroyed our reliability nationwide as a supplier. all of these things are presently being rectified, and i think that we are going to salvage the farmers. as a matter of fact, there has been less than one-quarter of 1 percent of foreclosures of the 270,000 loans from government that the farmers have. ms. walters: thank you, mr.
president. we'll now turn to diane sawyer for her round of questions. diane? ms. sawyer: i'd like to turn to an area that i think few people enjoy discussing, but that we probably should tonight because the positions of the two candidates are so clearly different and lead to very different policy consequences, and that is abortion and right to life. i'm exploring for your personal views of abortion and specifically how you would want them applied as public policy. first, mr. president. do you consider abortion murder or a sin? and second, how hard would you work, what kind of priority would you give in your second term legislation to make abortion illegal? and specifically, would you make certain, as your party platform urges, that federal justices that you appoint be prolife? the president: i have believed that in the appointment of judges that all that was specified in the party platform was that they respect the sanctity of human life. now, that i would want to see in any judge and with regard to any issue having to do with human life. but with regard to abortion, and
i have a feeling that this is, there's been some reference without naming it here in the remarks of mr. mondale tied to injecting religion into government. with me, abortion is not a problem of religion, it's a problem of the constitution. i believe that until and unless someone can establish that the unborn child is not a living human being, then that child is already protected by the constitution, which guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all of us. and i think that this is what we should concentrate on, is trying, i know there were weeks and weeks of testimony before a senate committee, there were medical authorities, there were religious, there were clerics there, everyone talking about this matter of pro-life.
and at the end of all of that, not one shred of evidence was introduced that the unborn child was not alive. we have seen premature births that are now grown-up, happy people going around. also, there is a strange dichotomy in this whole position about our courts ruling that abortion is not the taking of a human life. in california, sometime ago, a man beat a woman so savagely that her unborn child was born dead with a fractured skull, and the california state legislature unanimously passed a law that was signed by the then-democratic governor, signed a law that said that any man who so abuses a pregnant woman that he causes the death of her unborn child shall be charged with murder. now, isn't it strange that that same woman could have taken the life of her unborn child, and it was abortion and not murder, but if somebody else does it, that's murder? and it used the term "death of
the unborn child." so, this has been my feeling about abortion, that we have a problem now to determine, and all the evidence so far comes down on the side of the unborn child being a living human being. ms. sawyer: a two-part followup. do i take it from what you've said about the platform, then, that you don't regard the language and don't regard in your own appointments, abortion position a test of any kind for justices, that it should be? and also, if abortion is made illegal, how would you want it enforced? who would be the policing units that would investigate? and would you want the women who have abortions to be prosecuted? the president: the laws regarding that always were state laws. it was only when the supreme court handed down a decision that the federal government intervened in what had always been a state policy. our laws against murder are state laws. so, i would think that this would be the point of enforcement on this.
as i say, i feel that we have a problem here to resolve. and no one has approached it from that matter. it does not happen that the church that i belong to had that as part of its dogma. i know that some churches do. now, it is a sin if you're taking a human life. at the same time, in our judeo-christian tradition, we recognize the right of taking a human life in self-defense. and therefore, i've always believed that a mother, if medically it is determined that her life is at risk if she goes through with the pregnancy, she has a right then to take the life of even her own unborn child in defense of her own. ms.sawyer: mr. mondale, to turn to you, do you consider abortion a murder or a sin? and bridging from what president reagan said, he has written that if society doesn't know whether
life does, human life, in fact, does begin at conception, as long as there is a doubt, that the unborn child should at least be given the benefit of the doubt and that there should be protection for that unborn child. mr. mondale: this is one of the most emotional and difficult issues that could possibly be debated. i think your questions, however, underscore the fact there is probably no way that government should or could answer this question in every individual case and in the private lives of the american people. the constitutional amendment proposed by president reagan would make it a crime for a woman to have an abortion if she had been raped or suffered from incest. is it really the view of the american people, however you feel on the question of abortion, that government ought to be reaching into your
living rooms and making choices like this? i think it cannot work, won't work, and will lead to all kinds of cynical evasions of the law. those who can afford to have them will continue to have them. the disadvantaged will go out in the back alley as they used to do. i think these questions are inherently personal and moral, and every individual instance is different. every american should be aware of the seriousness of the step. but there are some things that government can do and some things they cannot do. now, the example that the president cites has nothing to do with abortion. somebody went to a woman and nearly killed her. that's always been a serious crime and always should be a
serious crime. but how does that compare with the problem of a woman who is raped? do we really want those decisions made by judges who've been picked because they will agree to find the person guilty? i don't think so, and i think it's going in exactly the wrong direction. in america, on basic moral questions we have always let the people decide in their own personal lives. we haven't felt so insecure that we've reached for the club of state to have our point of view. it's been a good instinct. and we're the most religious
people on earth. one final point: president reagan, as governor of california, signed a bill which is perhaps the most liberal proabortion bill of any state in the union. ms. sawyer: but if i can get you back for a moment on my point, which was the question of when human life begins, a two-part followup. first of all, at what point do you believe that human life begins in the growth of a fetus? and second of all, you said that government shouldn't be involved in the decisions. yet there are those who would say that government is involved, and the consequence of the involvement was 1.5 million abortions in 1980. and how do you feel about that? mr. mondale: the basic decision of the supreme court is that each person has to make this judgment in her own life, and that's the way it's been done. and it's a personal and private, moral judgment. i don't know the answer to when life begins. and it's not that simple, either. you've got another life involved. and if it's rape, how do you draw moral judgments on that? if it's incest, how do you draw moral judgments on that? does every woman in america have to present herself before some judge picked by jerry falwell to clear her personal judgment? it won't work.