Bush's Debate Experiences

ByABC News
October 2, 2000, 4:41 PM

Fall 2000 -- Although he faces one of the nations most respected debaters, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush has proved he can hold his own against more experienced orators. Take a look back at his past debate performances.

Bushs Experience

Although Bush entered the presidential race untested on the national debate stage, he has proved to be a competent, if not spectacular debater. Throughout his short political career, Bush has benefited from low expectations of his debating abilities. The fact that he skipped no less than three GOP primary debates, and the fact that he was reluctant to agree to the Commission on Presidential Debates proposal, has done little to contradict the impression of a candidate uncomfortable with this unavoidable fact of campaign life.

However, Bush is adept at memorizing and delivering sound bites as well as projecting an air of confidence onstage, and managed to do well in most of his previous debates despite his opponents best efforts to get him riled. One can be sure that at least a few Bush supporters will be holding their breath, waiting to see if the Texas governor makes it through this.

1978 Race for Congress

During a local radio debate against state Sen. Kent Hance, a Democrat, during their 1978 congressional race, an inexperienced Bush was unable to keep his cool under pressure, becoming visibly angry when asked about his familys ties to the Trilateral Commission and a one-world government. He was still fuming after the event, cursing the talk-show host and refusing to shake hands.

During a televised 1978 debate, Hance characterized Bush as an Ivy League Washington insider running on his family name. Hance argued that Washington was corrupt because Yalies like Bush had the run of the place, and noted that in contrast his own daddy and granddad were farmers. They didnt have anything to do with the mess were in right now, and Bushs father has been in politics his whole life.