WASHINGTON -- The presidential debates are over but Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush are still going head to head on the issues.
Throughout the campaign, The Associated Press has picked a wide variety of issues and asked the candidates questions about them. Bush and Gore have touched on such matters as farm policy, Internet privacy and trade with Vietnam along with their signature issues.
Below are several questions asked so far and a distillation of answers:
Clean Energy: What is one example of something you would do to promote cleaner energy?
Bush: ''I would remove federal impediments, such as unclear jurisdiction over who is responsible for grid reliability, to help states be able to deregulate their electric industries effectively. This way states' green power can be identified and rewarded. As governor, I presided over an electric deregulation bill that brings competition to Texas residents, makes mandatory emissions reductions from older power plants and calls for 2,000 megawatts of new renewable energy by 2009, making Texas the largest market for renewable energy in the country. The Environmental Defense Fund calls this Texas law 'the strongest in the nation.'''
Gore: ''Encouraging consumers and producers to use cleaner energy is critical to ensuring we have clean air and fighting the threat of global warming. That is why I have proposed a bold, unprecedented Energy Security and Environment Trust Fund -- a $150 billion fund to help develop clean new technologies. This fund will provide tax credits and financial incentives to power producers who reduce pollutant emissions; consumers who purchase energy-efficient vehicles, homes and home appliances, and communities that build energy-saving forms of public transportation.''
Nuclear Energy: Should the United States increase its use of nuclear power as part of a strategy to come closer to energy independence?
Bush: ''Nuclear power plays an important role in meeting the energy needs of the new economy, supplying over 20 percent of electricity consumed. As part of my energy policy, I have proposed clarifying IRS rules to make it easier for companies that specialize in operating nuclear power plants to purchase them from companies that do not. My overall energy policy also includes using diplomatic leverage, working with our allies, OPEC, and other oil-producing countries to ensure greater stability in world oil markets. I will also encourage greater exploration at home including opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge up to environmentally responsible exploration. We must also develop our natural gas resources, which are clean-burning and hemispheric in nature, not subject to whims of OPEC. I will also promote renewable sources of energy as part of my agenda because the new economy is very electric-intensive -- the amount of computers, printers, Web servers, and telecommunications equipment has grown rapidly.''
Gore: ''I strongly believe we need to take measures to increase our nation's energy security and decrease our dependence on unreliable foreign sources of oil. However, I do not support an increased reliance on nuclear power. In order to achieve sound economic and environmental goals, I believe that we must increase renewable energy sources and environmentally sound domestic energy production and develop new energy-saving technologies, while reducing our reliance on imported energy. Through the power of free markets and American ingenuity, my plan will dramatically reduce pollution and enhance our energy security -- and create more jobs in the process.''
Missile Defense: Should the United States begin building a national missile defense in 2001 even if Russia refuses to amend a treaty that prohibits it?
Bush: ''My job would be to convince Russia and other countries why employing a missile defense system is the right step to take. The creation of an effective missile defense will protect all 50 states, U.S. forces abroad and American friends and allies from limited missile attacks by rogue nations or accidental launches. To make this possible, we will offer Russia the necessary amendments to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty -- an artifact of Cold War confrontation.''
Gore: ''We need more time for additional testing of our National Missile Defense system, to ensure that these technologies actually work together properly, to determine more clearly the costs of the system, and to conduct updated talks with other countries. I will work to persuade the Russian Federation that the NMD system would never become a threat to them, and to negotiate any necessary changes to the ABM treaty. However, the end of the day, I would not be prepared to let Russian opposition to this system stand in the way of its deployment, if I should conclude that the technologies are mature enough to deploy and are both affordable and needed.''
Gays in the Military: Do you support the ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy on gays in the military?
Bush: ''I support the current 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy crafted by General Colin Powell regarding homosexuals in the military.''
Gore: ''It is unacceptable that patriotic men and women who serve their nation with distinction are not only discharged, but suffer persecution and even violence. They should be allowed to serve their country without discrimination. ''
Death Penalty: Should the justice system make DNA testing more accessible to death row prisoners and more acceptable as evidence after a conviction?
Bush: ''Any time DNA evidence, in the context of all the evidence, is deemed to be relevant in the guilt or innocence of a person on death row, I believe we need to use it. I believe that individual states should make every effort to ensure that their criminal justice systems are fair and impartial and that every defendant has full access to the state and federal courts.''
Gore: ''Yes. I respect the strong feelings of those who oppose the death penalty, but I believe it is an appropriate and effective punishment for certain offenses. I strongly support, however, the use of new DNA techniques that can make our criminal justice system fairer and more accurate.''
Trade with Vietnam: An agreement has been signed with Vietnam that opens trade but makes no demands on human rights. Congress will consider it next year. Do you support it?
Bush: ''I support the trade agreement with Vietnam. I believe expanded trade with Vietnam will help the forces of economic and political reform take root and grow. At the same time, we must make clear to the Vietnamese government that we expect them to cooperate fully with our efforts to obtain the fullest possible accounting of missing servicemen in Vietnam. Like all Americans, I want to see improved human rights, and living and working conditions worldwide. The best way to address these issues is not through unilateral trade sanctions, but through multilateral agreements. The primary goal of our trade policy should be to open markets abroad because the better way to raise living and working standards is to increase trade.''
Gore: ''I believe that we must ratify and fully implement important new trade agreements, and as president I will insist on and use the authority to negotiate and enforce worker rights, human rights and environmental protections in those agreements. I believe that the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement provides important benefits to American businesses and workers, including dramatic new market access for American goods, services and agricultural products; intellectual property protection; investment protection provisions, and transparency and rule-of-law measures. The treaty also represents an important step in the normalization of our relations with Vietnam, a process which will strengthen cooperation on bringing American POW-MIAs home, promoting religious freedom and combating the narcotics trade.''
Guns: Do you believe law-abiding citizens should be able to carry concealed guns?
Bush: ''I believe law-abiding citizens who pass rigorous background checks and a firearm proficiency test should be able to protect themselves and their families. This decision is best left to individual states. I believe the federal government should enforce tough laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, juveniles and others who should not have them.''
Gore: ''No. We must not loosen the restrictions on concealed weapons. I believe that, after all the gun violence we have seen, simple common sense dictates that we must have stricter gun control measures to keep guns out of the wrong hands, without unnecessarily imposing on the rights of law-abiding hunters and homeowners.''
Arts: Do you support federal subsidies for the arts?
Bush: ''I believe we should continue federal funding for the arts but give states a greater say in how the funds are spent. I don't believe we should spend public money to support obscene material or denigrate religion.''
Gore: ''I strongly believe in encouraging and supporting the arts and would continue the current policy of support.''
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