Gore, Bush could learn from veep picks

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2000

Al Gore and George W. Bush have a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of American voters this week.

As the two top presidential contenders face off for another nationally televised debate, they will be wise to listen to the advice of the voters: be polite, be civil and be focused on the issues.

At Gore and Bush’s first debate — nearly 10 days ago — American voters were treated to one-liners, smirks, audible sighs and complaints about fuzzy math, but little substance that helped those critical undecided voters make up their minds.

Email newsletter signup

Fortunately, their running mates did better this week during their only televised national debate Bush’s vice presidential pick, Richard Cheney, and Gore’s pick, Sen. Joe Lieberman, proved you can debate politics with civility, polish and a focus on the issues.

And, if focus group reports and national polls are any indicator, the American voters responded favorably –&160;lauded the civility and gentlemanly manner of both vice presidential candidates.

The men debated the issues while maintaining a mutual respect for each other — and that basic respect for others is a crucial character trait Americans are seeking in a president after eight years of divisiveness and high-flying partisanship in the White House.

That apparent intrinsic respect — perhaps a result of experience, more likely a basic character trait in both men — was refreshing and reassuring.

More important, the absence of bitterness and negativism allowed voters to focus on the candidates’ platforms and positions — which is the ultimate goal of the debates.

Cheney and Lieberman did well. And these veterans also set a standard that both Bush and Gore would be well advised to follow this week.