Campaign '92: The Race To Avoid Being The Guy Who Loses To Bush

Moderator.....Julia Sweeney
Sen. Bill Bradley.....Kevin Nealon
Congressman Dick Gephardt.....Dana Carvey
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen.....Keifer Sutherland
Tipper Gore.....Victoria Jackson
Gov. Mario Cuomo.....Phil Hartman



Moderator: Good evening. I'm Fay Sullivan, of the League of Women Voters. Welcome to this, the first in a series of debates among the five leading Democrats who are trying to avoid being forced by their party into a hopeless race against President George Bush. Most of them have already announced that they're not interested in the nomination. But each, of course, is under enormous pressure to be the "chump" who will take on the futile task of running against this very, very popular incumbent. They are.. Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey..

Sen. Bill Bradley: I am not a candidate for President in 1992.

Moderator: House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri..

Congressman Dick Gephardt: I do not seek my party's nomination.

Moderator: Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas..

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen: I do not wish to be my party's nominee in the next election.

Moderator: Here for her husband, Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee, Tipper Gore..

Tipper Gore: He's not interested.

Moderator: And Gov. Mario Cuomo, of New York.

Gov. Mario Cuomo: No way!

Moderator: Gov. Cuomo, let's begin with you. In a way, one might say there's no reason for any of you to be forced into this race. After all, there are already several announced candidates for the Democratic nomination - Sen. Kerrey, Sen. Harkin, fomer Gov. Brown, and so on. Why is your party beggin you, or any of you, to enter the race?

Gov. Mario Cuomo: Fay, I don't know. But I'll tell you something - if the Democratic Party were to make me its candidate in 1992, it would go down as its worse defeat in history.

Sen. Bill Bradley: Oh, come on, Mario! You're probably the best candidate we've got!

Everyone: Cuomo! Cuomo! Cuomo! Cuomo!

Gov. Mario Cuomo: Please, please! Bill! Now, I resent the implication that I'm the strongest candidate here. Let's be frank - you're far better than any of us, or have you forgotten your brilliant play as you led the New York Knicks to victory in the 1973 NBA Finals?

Everyone: Bradley! Bradley! Bradley! Bradley!

Gov. Mario Cuomo: Now, Bill, you could show me polls that have me losing to Bush by 7 points, and I can show you polls that have me losing to Bush by 40 points - that's not the issue! The issue is my record. After eight years of my mismanagement as governor, the economy of New York State is in a shambles! Now, I don't think anyone here can point to a record like that.

Congressman Dick Gephardt: Now, wait a minute..

Moderator: Congressman Gephardt?

Everyone: Gephardt! Gephardt! Gephardt! Gephardt!

Congressman Dick Gephardt: Well, hold on! Now, if you wanna talk about shambles, let's talk about the U.S. House of Representatives, of which I am the Majority Leader. You know, the real enemy facing this country isn't the Soviets, it isn't the Japanese - it's people like me! And the American people know it. The fact is, I couldn't beat David Duke in Harlem! What this party needs is someone with the vision, the integrity, and the guts of an Al Gore.

Everyone: Gore! Gore! Gore! Gore!

Tipper Gore: That isn't fair! My husband isn't here tonight to answer to that kind of smear!

Congressman Dick Gephardt: Then, I have to ask you, if your husband doesn't think he should be this party's nominee, why didn't he bother to show up here tonight?

Tipper Gore: My husband is with our kids at a gay porno theater.

Everyone: Oh, come on! Come on!

Moderator: Gentlemen, please! Sen. Bentsen, we haven't heard from you yet.

Everyone: Bentsen! Bentsen! Bentsen! Bentsen!

Moderator: Please.. please.. Senator, tell us why Lloyd Bentsen should not be President.

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen: Oh, Fay, there are so many reasons. But, ultimately, it comes down to one - this election is about ideas. And the fact is, I have none. Nothing, covers empty, nada, not a one! You know, I remind myself of that commercial, "Where's The Beef?" And that's the problem with Lloyd Bentsen - where's the beef?

Sen. Bill Bradley: Uh, may I?

Moderator: Sen. Bradley?

Sen. Bill Bradley: What about me? If Lloyd wants to talk about lack of substance, I say what about me? I'm an ex-jock. End of story. The fact is, Lloyd is one of the finest minds in the Senate! In fact, he reminds many of us of another great democrat - John F. Kennedy.

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen: Sen Bradley, I knew Jack Kennedy.. I worked with Jack Kennedy.. I am no Jack Kennedy.

Sen. Bill Bradley: Senator, that was uncalled for.

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen: The fact is, when most people hear the name Lloyd Bentsen, they don't think of Jack Kennedy; they think of two other fellows - Michael Dukakis and Willie Horton.

Tipper Gore: Lloyd, that is shameless!

Gov. Mario Cuomo: Sen. Bentsen, I resent the suggestion that you are somehow more the candidate of Willie Horton than anyone else here! The fact is, as governor of New York, I have pardoned criminals far worse than Willie Horton! Including key figures in organized crime, who happen top be close friends of mine! Yes! I'm talking about the mob!

Moderator: Well.. gentlemen, Mrs. Gore.. we've reached the end of our alotted time. Each of you is now allowed a brief closing statement. Let's begin with Tipper Gore.

Tipper Gore: Thank you, Fay. I'm a mother of three children, and, like any mother, I want the best possible future for my kids. When I think of a future with my husband as President, frankly, I'm scared. Thank you.

Moderator: Congressman Gephardt?

Congressman Dick Gephardt: There's a feeling abroad in this land. You can sense it from the textile workers in South Carolina, from machinists in Detroit, and ranchers in Wyoming. The feeling that Dick Gephardt repreents everything that's wrong with this country. You don't want me as your president, and neither do I. I want to remain in Congress. After all, that's where the money is - your money. Thank you.

Moderator: Sen. Bradley?

Sen. Bill Bradley: Well, there are people that will tell you that I can beat George Bush. Why? Because I'm a sports celebrity. But I think you, the American people, are smarter than that. You want a leader you can defend against terrorism, not jump shots; who can make a foreign policy, not an inbound pass; a leader who can run an economy, not a three-man weave. If America ever needs a man in a low post.. perhaps I'm the guy.. but, when it comes to our nation's highest post, I just don't cut it. Thank you.

Moderator: And now, Sen. Bentsen.

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen: I'm old.. and I'm only gonna be getting older. Older and more confused. Hell, I can't tell you all the names of the people that are standing right here. One thing I can tell you, is that George Bush would beat the living bejebus out of me. He's done it before, just ask a couple friends of mine - Michael Dukakis and Willie Horton.

Moderator: And, finally, Gov. Cuomo.

Gov. Mario Cuomo: Thank you, Fay. Tonight, we've heard a lot about images of perception, about what poll shows what candidate losing by the least to whom at any given time.. Now, I could stand here and talk about the inaccuracy of polling, or the subjective nature of the process - but that's not the real issue here! The real issue is simple - I.. have.. mob ties!

Moderator: Well, that brings to a close, the first in a series of Democratic Presidential debates. Thank you, all of you, for your participation here tonight. And I'd also like to take this opportunity to remind our viewers at home that democracy works only when you vote. When you don't take the time to vote for the candidate you find the least offensive, you run the risk of electing the candidate you find the most offensive. Good night.


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