Campus & Community

Students give Gore the edge in debate

4 min read
Photo of debate audience at Clark Athletic
Clark Athletic Center at the University of Massachusetts in Boston was transformed into the site of the first presidential debate between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Staff photo by Justin Ide

More than 300 students and community members attended a big-screen showing of the presidential debate Tuesday night at the ARCO Forum at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Although the audience was predominantly pro-Gore, both candidates received applause and guffaws at times throughout the evening. The Gazette surveyed viewers on their thoughts after the debate.

“I think that Gore demonstrated that he is an extremely skilled debater and Bush is simply not as experienced in that format. Maybe when the format changes it will be different, but I think Bush really showed a real weakness, and Gore a real strength…I was going to vote for Gore [before the debate] and I’m happier now with my vote than ever.”
– Rick Zednik HBS ’02

“For all of Bush’s talk about having a leader who people have confidence in, I think it’s somewhat scary that every time he opens his mouth there is a concern that he’ll say something completely incompetent. He doesn’t inspire any kind of confidence in me, and no matter what he might say in terms of issues …the fact that he seems incapable of expressing himself is a real problem.”
– Avi Steinberg ’02

“I was more impressed with Gore when it came to policies. It seems he had a better grasp. But I do think that Bush was much more inspiring and he talked about the president having a leadership role. That’s something that Gore really didn’t really touch on, and I thought that Bush definitely projected himself as a figure of something to admire. He did have a few slips…but I don’t think that’s a total reflection on his personality.”
– Noam Osband ’03

“One way to describe the beginning [of the debate] was Gore as dominant. He even dominated the moderator, but I think George Bush held his own. He found his place toward the end of the debate, so I’d say it was probably a tie by the end.”
– Jonathan Newton ’03

“I thought, unfortunately, that Bush talked more to America because he’s not as intelligent as Gore is. I think that Gore might be too intellectual for America, although he’d make a much, much better President… I think this was a really, really important debate. I think a lot of people are still undecided and the first debate is often essential in making that decision.”
– Samantha Ettus HBS ’01

“If you’re interested in somebody who understands the issues, understands leadership, and understands what’s best for the country, then there’s no question Al Gore came off better. But I agree that Bush appeals to a level that most voters reside in.”
– Omri Dahan HBS ’01

“I think Al Gore dominated [the debate] pretty thoroughly — as a matter of content not so much, but as a matter of debate preparation and presentation …I thought Bush was obviously uncomfortable and he had issues with the time, and felt he was being treated unfairly. You could see that on his face. That probably affected his performance.”
– Joe Mudd, Divinity School first-year

“I came into this debate very disappointed that Ralph Nader was not included. Having said that, I think there were many similarities between the two candidates and their positions…. I do think George Bush’s weakness in foreign policy really came to a head during this debate. He stumbled over a lot of what he said…. He clearly showed a lack of confidence.”
– Ann Marie Nee GSE ’01