Debate Reveals Contrast on Women’s Rights, Civil Rights Issues

In one of the most contentious exchanges in Tuesday night’s presidential debates, Vice President Al Gore clearly stated his support of affirmative action, saying affirmative action is “taking extra steps to acknowledge the history of discrimination and injustice and prejudice and bring all people into the American dream.” Gore then challenged Republican candidate George W. Bush to take the same position after the Texas governor said he did not like quotas and would support “affirmative access.” Gore pressed the issue, stating affirmative action doesn’t mean quotas and asking Bush if he supported affirmative action without quotas. Bush said he did not support Gore’s version of affirmative action. Affirmative action has been a key strategy of advancing women and minorities in the work force and erasing past institutional discrimination.

The two candidates also discussed Social Security privatization–a Bush plan that would be particularly harmful to women, who live longer than men, typically earn less, and are more dependent on social security because very few women have pension plans. Gore pointed out that Bush’s plan would cut into the money set aside for current Social Security beneficiaries, 60 percent of whom are women. And 25 percent of elderly women who live alone depend on Social Security as their only source of income. Gore also advocated for universal preschool as a part of his education policy.


Transcripts of Presidential Debate provided by New York Times _ October 18, 2000; Feminist Majority Foundation

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