Cheney, Lieberman Spar in Casual Debate
D A N V I L L E, Ky., Oct. 6 -- The vice-presidential candidates, Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat Joseph Lieberman, engaged in a relaxed, confident exchange Thursday night that was short on sparks and thick with policy disagreements and humor.
They opened their first and only showdown with a flurry of numbers as each tried to paint the other’s budget proposal as reckless.
On Medicare, Social Security and education reform, Cheney said the Democrats — led by Lieberman’s running mate, Al Gore — had wasted their time in office.
“Eight years of talk and no action,” Cheney said, echoing a refrain of his ticket mate, George W. Bush. “They’ve been in a position of responsibility in the White House with a powerful interest, if you will, in Washington D.C., and they’ve been unable to work with others.”
For Better or Worse
Lieberman defended the vice president, saying he had delivered “big time” as a strong leader with a record of bipartisanship and riffing on a line Ronald Reagan used to zing Democrat Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential debates.
“If you asked most people in America today that famousquestion … ‘Are you better off today than youwere eight years ago?’ most people would say, ‘Yes.’”
The line set up a back-and-forth of one-liners between the candidates, as Lieberman poked fun of Cheney for making millions in recent years at the helm of the Halliburton oil services company in Texas.
“And I’m pleased to see, Dick, from the newspapers, that you’rebetter off than you were eight years ago, too,” Lieberman said.
Unruffled, Cheney shot back, “I can tell you, Joe, that thegovernment had absolutely nothing to do with it.”
Asked later whether Lieberman had corrupted his reputation in Congress as a straight shooter since joining the Gore campaign, Cheney expressed disappointment in the Connecticut senator.
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