The vice presidential candidates squared off Thursday night in a debate over issues ranging from tax cuts to foreign policy.
Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Republican Dick Cheney held a discussion about the issues in Danville, Ky. during the only scheduled vice presidential debate this election.
Although Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George Bush still have two more debates ahead of them, the vice presidential hopefuls had only this one opportunity to address the public. They each used it to convince Americans to vote for their tickets.
Unlike Tuesday’s debate between Bush and Gore, the vice presidential candidates argued in a less formal setting, seated at a table with CNN anchor Bernard Shaw as the moderator. What resulted was an exchange of their parties’ differing ideas for more than 90 minutes.
After briefly talking about education, the candidates quickly turned to U.S. military policy. Former defense secretary Cheney said he would rather deploy U.S. personnel as warriors than as peacekeepers. He added that Russia should get involved in the problems with Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia.
Lieberman said the American military is the best equipped and trained in the world. He added that the Gore campaign is planning to spend twice as much money on the military as the Bush campaign.
This subject eventually shifted to the issue of oil drilling. Cheney supported drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve in Alaska and said he would find a way to balance environmental preservation with consumer demands.
“We are trying to pursue a balanced approach,” he explained.
Both candidates had similar stances on gay rights, agreeing to extend rights to gays and lesbians but keep the institution of marriage between heterosexual couples.
Near the end of the debate, Bradshaw asked Cheney about the seemingly unclear positions Lieberman had on certain issues.
Cheney attacked Lieberman’s consistency, saying, “I liked the old Joe Lieberman better than the new Joe Lieberman.”
In defense, Lieberman said, “I have not changed a single position since Al Gore nominated me for vice president.”
At the beginning of the debate Lieberman said, “I’m not going to indulge in personal attacks.” And both candidates remained civil during most of the debate, with only a few negative remarks toward the end.
From here on out, Lieberman and Cheney can only stand by and watch.
Gore and Bush will face off again next Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Benjamin Sandell welcomes comments at [email protected]