Cheney and Lieberman Debate Is Friendly Not Fiery
— -- Concentrating firmly on substantive policy issues, vice-presidential candidates Dick Cheney and Joseph Lieberman squared off in their only debate of the 2000 campaign.
ABCNEWS.COMOct. 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.
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.
“I like the old Joe Lieberman better than I like the new Joe Lieberman,” Cheney said. “Having joined with Al Gore, that depth of conviction that we had admired before isn’t quite as strong as it was, perhaps, in the past.”
Carrying the Torch
But mostly, they argued over policy.
Cheney tried to portray Lieberman and Gore as “old way” tax-and-spend liberals who would blow projected federal budget surpluses on expanding government programs.