Strengths of Gore vs. Bush?

A viewer asked this question on 4/25/2000:

can you please tell me what are the strengths and weaknesses of Al Gore and George Bush during their run for president.

JesseGordon gave this response on 4/26/2000:

I'll answer by updating one of my FAQs for April:

Where Bush is superior to Gore (according to Bush supporters):

1) Bush has had "executive" experience; running Texas, one of the largest economies in the country. Gore has been a Senator, which is not executive (he shared power with 99 others); and was 2nd to Clinton. How Bush runs Texas is a clear indication of how he'll run the US - Gore doesn't have as clear a history.

2) Bush is more of an "outsider" than Gore. If the country is tired of Clinton and ongoing scandals (or if you think those are important), Bush is far more distant from them than is Gore.

3) Bush perpetuates Reagan's legacy, while Gore perpetuates Clinton's. Even a non-partisan like me acknowledges that history will view Reagan as more effective and influential than Clinton.

Where Gore is superior to Bush (according to Gore supporters):

1) Gore knows a lot more about foreign affairs. He's been involved abroad for many years; Bush only claims experience with Mexico. If you think the Presidency is mostly about foreign affairs, Gore wins hands-down. Bush will need "on-the-job training" for this - although he does seem to pick his advisors well.

2) Gore seems to be much more willing to acknowledge his past mistakes. Gore has said the Buddhist fundraising deal was wrong, among other things. Bush, on the other hand, seems arrogant in his self-defense - he says for example that all 200-odd death penalty executions in Texas were appropriate. It seems to me that he's begging there to be proven wrong.

3) Whether you like Clinton's legacy or not, Clinton did preside over the longest economic expansion in US history. Gore will presumably follow Clinton's policies much more closely than Bush, hence making the continuation of that expansion more likely.

Where Bush & Gore most differ on the issues:

1) Bush will replace the public school system with vouchers, or will come a lot closer to that than we are now. Gore will likely challenge vouchers at every turn.

2) Gore will further regulate guns; Bush will attempt to further deregulate guns.

3) Bush will probably reduce taxes more than Gore, and will certainly return more power to the states than will Gore.

You can do a more thorough issue-based comparison, and determine which candidate better fits your personal views, by reading about their issues at

-- Jesse

Chrobo42 asked this question on 7/24/2000:

I would appreciate a calm, objective and intelligent discussion/comparison of the relative strengths and weaknesses of both Bush and Gore. Only serious responses need apply as smart-aleck answers and rude replies will automatically rate one star from me. Thank you.

madpol gave this response on 7/24/2000:

Gore's greatest strengths are his Intellect and the calm, caring presence he projects.

This gives him great strength on the "warm, fuzzy" issues that are an important part of the Democratic Party in Liberal mode.

Bush's greatest strengths are his name recognition and the kind of savvy that comes of being a 4th generation politician.

Their weaknesses are pretty much the same the same. Both are largely "invisible men," who have failed to capture the popular imagination. Both draw most of their support from the most extreme elements of their respective parties, with only tentative and grudging support coming from the center.

This is a worse weakness for Bush. His attempts to move to the center seem to be viewed with skepticism by the public. His most likely choice for VP, Dick Cheney offers little help on this.

Of course, Gore's attempts to project a "tougher" image aren't being bought by the public either.

Strategically, this looks like 1960, a close call presidential race, (nearly every recent poll show the two candidates within the margin of error,) that will be decided by turnouts for Senate and Congressional candidates.

If you look at what Democrats are doing, most of their efforts are going into those races, particularly in open districts and in districts where GOP'ers are vulnerable.

Buchanan, should he be the Reform Party candidate, could also be decisive. If he decides to make it a race, he could siphon off votes from Bush. If he uses his parties campaign funds as "soft" Bush money and concentrates his campaign around attacking Gore, he could hurt Gore considerably.

madpol gave this follow-up answer on 7/24/2000:

Since the above answer is something of a departure from my usual style, I would appreciate your posting a question to which smart aleck answers would be appropriate. I am after all, the "Mad Political Scientist."

You must be new to this page if you think a one star rating is a significant threat. Hell, we consider ourselves lucky if an answer gets rated at all.

Chrobo42 rated this answer:

Thank you for your answer. I am new to that page but I know how it goes. I am an expert on the religion and the Christianity pages. It can get pretty brutal there, sad to say.

madpol gave this follow-up answer on 7/25/2000:

Unfortunately, brutality appears to be the most sacred of Christian Rites. I'm pretty sure that's not how Jesus planned it.

Anonymous asked this question on 10/19/2000:

who do you think is the most qualified presidental candidate, non biased, but just out in the air, whats your opinion?

JesseGordon gave this response on 10/19/2000:

Obviously Gore has more "qualifications" in the sense of having a stronger career resume. No one disputes that. He's a foreign policy expert, a defense expert, a domestic policy expert, a government expert, and a policy wonk on just about everything else. Bush is not.

Bush says that he has the ability to "get things done" while Gore does not, and he certainly has a point there. He means that he has worked with a Democratic legislature in Texas, and could do the same in Washington (although it looks likely that Congress will remain Republican). Gore's record of bipartisanship is not as good as Bush's.

I think both men are sufficiently well-qualified. If you consider knowledge and experience to be the most important factors, clearly Gore wins. If you consider the ability to work with people more important, Bush wins. Both are valiud qualifications for president. The distinction is what this race will come down to!

Check out the political quiz at and especially the results analysis at It says, in short, that people agree with Gore more on the issues (aside from thinking he KNOWS them more), but still like Bush more.

Bush falls into the same category as Reagan -- likable, a delegator, a hands-off leader. Reagan did pretty well at getting done what he wanted (I didn't agree with a lot of it, but he DID get it done). Gore falls into the same category as Jimmy Carter -- a policy wonk, very smart, knows a lot, detail-oriented. Carter will not be remembered as the most effective President of his time; Reagan will. Carter was more "qualified" than Reagan, and Gore is more "qualified" than Bush.

Both men are adequately qualified. I'm satisfied to leave it to the judgement of the American people whether smarts are more important (Gore) or likability is (Bush).

cmstrup@..., a user from, asked this question on 10/13/2000:

I would like to know which man do you think would make a better President Gore or Busch and why you think so?

JesseGordon gave this response on 10/13/2000:

They're both competent leaders and either one will do ok as President. Bush is certainly the more likable person, and perhaps a better leader; Gore is certainly the more knowledgable person, and perhaps a better visionary.

Here's a comparison of the two on the hot issues:


Gay rights
Death penalty

Gun control
School choice
Tax reform



GORE: Pro-choice. Voted against abortion funding in Congress; has "evolved" since then. I.e., not an ideologue.
BUSH: Pro-life, but also by no means an ideologue. WIll likely maintain the status quo (Roe v. Wade); won't commit to pro-life Supreme Court justices.
COMPARISON: Bush is having a tough time with this because it splits the GOP, and can only hurt him, either by losing the Christian right if he's too "soft" or the centrist independents if he's too strict.

BUSH & GORE: They agree on Permanent Normal Trade Relations for China. To see some differences, check our Nader & Buchanan.
COMPARISON: Only an issue for Gore, with regards to security breaches, donations, etc. It COULD be a weakness for both of them, if China behaves badly in the next couple of months, or if Nader or Buchanan get into the debates.

GORE: Supports gays in military; and gay "domestic partnerships".
BUSH: Opposes gay adoption & gay marriage; would keep gays out of the Boy Scouts and out of "hate crime" legislation.
COMPARISON: Gays wouldn't vote for Bush anyway, so he hasn't got much to lose, but this is definitely a strength for Gore. Gays claim to be 10% of the population; if so, this is a MAJOR strength.

GORE & BUSH: They both support the death penalty, "Three Strikes," and more cops on the street. Bush is clearly "tougher" on crime, since Texas under his governorship is in the far lead in capital punishment.
COMPARISON: I feel this is a major weakness for Bush. Texas is simply too aggressive in administering the death penalty, and Bush is too arrogant (he said, "There have been no mistakes in 130 executions.") I think someone will find a DNA-based case of actual innocence and Bush will look awful on this issue, sometime in September.

GORE & BUSH: Both support SDI; the only difference is degree. Gore wants SDI against "rogue states", Bush wants a full-scale SDI.
COMPARISON: I'd have said this is a Gore strength last week, since he's an arms expert. But now Bush has Cheney, so they've evened up.

GORE: For gun safety rules and "taking on the NRA."
BUSH: For 2nd amendment rights, with some restrictions.
COMPARISON: Bush is perceived as pro-gun, but his actual stances are pretty moderate. In the sense that moderation gets the centrist vote, this is a Bush strength. Also, the gun-carrying crowd (which is huge) will favor Bush because of the perception.

GORE: Keep schools public.
BUSH: Vouchers.
COMPARISON: It seems to me that the public has accepted that vouchers are indeed something to experiment with. Bush proposes more than that, but Gore comes out looking rigid on this issue. He does so because he wants the NEA (teacher's union) vote. I think the NEA is also viewed as rigid, and the gain in NEA support will not counteract the loss of parents irate over failing schools, so this is a Gore weakness.

GORE: Some tax cuts
BUSH: More tax cuts
COMPARISON: This is a major strength for Bush, which is ironic because a strong economy is supposed to be a strength for the incumbent. The essence of this issue is that Gore says "Let's be prudent and spend on internal debt" while Bush says "Give the taxpayers back their money while the giving is good." It's a strength for Bush because every couple of months the new budget surplus figures get higher. Then Gore's calls for prudence -- and his attacks that Bush is irresponsible -- seem less and less convincing. Gore's weakness is that, despite trillions in surplus, it's STILL not enough for him to say "the government has enough."

liltease83@..., a user from, asked this question on 10/13/2000:

What does George W. Bush Jr, intend to accomplish when he is in office?

Why is this candidate specially qualified, what has he accomplished to make him qualified for this position?

What experience has this candidate had prior to this time, what jobs and/or other related experience has he had?

JesseGordon gave this response on 10/13/2000:

Bush's background:

* Formed his own oil business, Arbusto Corp., in 1977 ('arbusto' is Spanish for 'bush'). He was a deal maker and did marginally well.

* Managing general partner of Texas Rangers baseball franchise, 1989-94

* Political Experience:

* Elected Governor in 1994 and re-elected in 1998.

* Aide to former President Bush (1987-92)

* Unsuccessful run for Congress in 1978.

Bush's platform:

* Foreign Policy: Befriend Americas; pressure Russia

* Defense: More engaged; rebuild

* Kosovo: Distrust Serbia

* China: Compete with China; WTO OK

* Gun Control: More gun laws; more gun rights

* Crime: Death; 2 Strikes; less parole

* Juvenile Crime: Boot camps; tougher laws

* Drugs: More education; more laws; abstinence

* Budget & Economy: Simplify & cut taxes

* Government Reform: Limit terms & judges & lawsuits

* Tax Reform: Simplify & reduce taxes

* Social Security: Lockbox & privatize

* Free Trade: More open trade

* Education: Local control; back to basics

* School Choice: Try vouchers & charters

* Welfare: Faith-based Armies of Compassion

* Health Care: Reform HMOs & Medicare

* Civil Rights: Anti-quota; anti-gay marriage

* Abortion: Pro-life; no litmus test

* Environment: Deregulate; voluntary cleanup

* Families & Children: Abstinence; V-chip; tough laws

Bush's background can be found at:

Bush's platform can be found at:

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