The Presidential Debates Between Bill Clinton and Dole

Philip Rubacha
October 22, 1996

The presidential debates between democratic President William
Clinton and Republican Senator Robert Dole proved to be a game of "dodge-ball".
Bob Dole fired criticism and attacks while Clinton tried to "dodge" them. Dole
attacked him on most of his ideas, and his tendency to exaggerate. Clinton
avoided the lies he made since the 1992 presidential campaign (brought up by
Dole, of course) by revealing all that he accomplished for the good of the
people. Clinton focused on politics at a federal level at home, and tried to
avoid foreign affairs. Dole based his debate on a state or local level. They
both had separate ideas on different topics such as education, taxes, etc. They
used these opposite ideas to attack each other.
The debates went smoothly through the first minutes without a
lot of conflict but shortly into the debate Clinton makes his claim that "The
United States is better off now than it was four years ago". Dole attacks by
saying "He's (Clinton) better off than he was four years ago". Although it
cracked a few laughs, it showed how little respect he has for Clinton and how
desperate he is getting to resort to such cheesy remarks. The first several
minutes of the debate had Clinton summarizing all that he has done in the past
four years such as 10.5 million more jobs, the Brady Bill, and Family, Medical,
and educational bills. In turn Dole complains that the United States has
stagnant wages, and that 40% of wages are spent on taxes. On the topic of drug
use in the United States Clinton claimed that cocaine use decreased 30% and
crime decreased as well. Dole soon reacted by saying, rather sarcastically that
drug abuse has doubled and for so much money that has been spent on crime little
has changed. Throughout the debates Clinton claims he has done so much good for
the country such as cutting the size of government, and stimulating economic
growth. In return Dole would blame him for exaggerating and stealing credit for
other's work such as governors, senators, etc. Clinton did little direct
attacking but at one point, for example, he criticized Dole's 550 billion dollar
"scheme" to cut Medicare and Social Security.
Clinton and Dole showed very different views on education.
Clinton observed education as dependent on the federal government program for
funding. Bob Dole believes that education should be brought more local, and on
a state level. Dole wants to cut all federal programs and move programs such as
Health Care, Medicare, etc., to more of a state level.
Bill Clinton likes to keep his ideas as well as debates on not
only a federal level but within United States boundaries as well. He tries to
avoid foreign affairs as that is an area of weakness. Bob Dole knows this and
he attacks Clinton's policies. He claims that Clinton handled the situations
incorrectly in places such as Haiti, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, North Korea, and
Cuba. He says it has cost the United States billions of dollars to attempt to
keep peace in the world. Clinton had no real answer to the remarks accept to
give little positive outcomes of United States actions in these countries. He
attacked Clinton's defense cuts as well. The President had claimed he would cut
60 billion dollars in defense spending, when in fact he cut 112 million dollars,
according to Dole, but then again who knows.
Clinton and Dole possess very different outlines. Clinton
believes in Federal power as Dole believes in state and local power. Clinton
wants to decrease fire arms, reduce defense, and increase Welfare and Medicare.
He plans to further stimulate education and his health plan. Dole on the other
hand wants to increase defense spending, cut taxes on individuals but increase
taxes on a national level, and take power from federal programs and pump it into
state and local power. These are very different ideas which led to a lot of
bickering and attacking of the issues (typical of any presidential debate).
They both show completely different attitudes. To summarize the debate, it can
be simply said that Dole attacked and avoided questions, while Clinton defended
himself and directly addressed the people. For these reasons, Clinton clearly
won this debate. Although he was not great he clearly won more respect from
myself and many others. In all honesty, this was truly a g