Presidential Candidates

By Jerilyn WatsonImportant elections will be held November seventh in the United States. Americans will vote for president, vice president and many national and local representatives. I'm Shirley Griffith.And I'm Sarah Long. We tell about the major presidential and vice presidential candidates today on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

Political experts say the election for president may be extremely close. Governor George W. Bush of Texas is the Republican candidate. Vice President Al Gore is the Democratic candidate. They disagree about major issues. But the two men are similar in some ways.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore are about the same age -- in their fifties. Both are the sons of famous fathers. Both men were educated at the best universities in America. And in recent years, each man has gained the public support that may lead him to become president of the United States.George W. Bush was born in the large southern state of Texas in Nineteen-Forty-Six. He is the oldest child of former President George Bush. The younger Bush often is called "W" because his name is so similar to that of his father.

George W. Bush grew up in the Texas cities of Midland and Houston. He graduated from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He studied business as a graduate student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

George W. Bush was a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. Later he worked in the oil and gas industry.Mr. Bush had his first major political experience in Nineteen-Eighty-Eight. He worked on his father's successful campaign for president. Later he was one of the owners of the Texas Rangers, a professional baseball team. He was elected governor of Texas in Nineteen-Ninety-Four. He was re-elected four years later by a large majority.

Governor Bush worked with the Texas legislature to get more money for public education. At his urging, the state legislators also enacted measures to improve public schools.

However, critics charge that public education in Texas is still very poor. And they say the state's criminal justice policies supported by Mr. Bush are too severe. For example, the state has executed more criminals than any other state.Governor Bush calls himself a "compassionate conservative."He says this means he is a political conservative who cares about all Americans. These include ethnic and racial minorities and poor people. He says he supports national policies based on limited federal government involvement.

If elected president, Governor Bush says he would improve public schools by increasing local control of education. He also says he would reduce the taxes that Americans pay. He promises to strengthen the military, which he says has lost its readiness for battle. And, George W. Bush says he would return personal responsibility to the White House.

Governor Bush is married to Laura Welch Bush, a former teacher and librarian. They have twin daughters who are eighteen years old.Mr. Bush chose former Defense Secretary Richard Cheney as the Republican vice presidential candidate. Mr. Cheney is the head of a large energy company.

Richard Cheney was born fifty-nine years ago in the middle western city of Lincoln, Nebraska. He served six terms as a representative in Congress from the western state of Wyoming. Later he served as defense secretary during the administration of President George Bush. Mr. Cheney directed military campaigns in Panama and the Persian Gulf.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore has served almost eight years as vice president. He was born in Washington, D. C. , in Nineteen-Forty-Eight. His father was Albert Gore Senior, a United States senator from the southern state of Tennessee. Young Al grew up in Washington and in Carthage, Tennessee, where his family had a farm. During summers he worked on his family's farm. He cleaned out farm buildings and cared for animals.

Al Gore studied government at Harvard University. He graduated in Nineteen-Sixty-Nine. The next year he married Tipper Aitcheson, a newspaper photographer. They have three daughters and a son.

Senator Albert Gore Senior opposed American involvement in the war in Vietnam. But his son, Al, joined the Army during the war. He spent about six months of his Army service as a reporter in Vietnam.Al Gore again worked as a reporter when he returned to civilian life. He also went back to school to study religion. Later he studied law. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in Nineteen-Seventy-Six. He became known for supporting nuclear arms control and protecting the environment.

Mr. Gore was elected to the United States Senate in Nineteen-Eighty-Four. He was re-elected six years later. He tried and failed to become the Democratic candidate for president in Nineteen-Eighty-Eight.Four years later Bill Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination. Mr. Clinton chose Mr. Gore as his vice presidential candidate. As vice president, Al Gore has been praised for his work on the environment, technology and foreign relations.

But he also has been criticized. Critics say campaign money was illegally collected at a Buddhist temple in California during a visit by Mr. Gore four years ago. But he says he did not know campaign money was being raised at the event.Al Gore chose Senator Joseph Lieberman of the eastern state of Connecticut as his vice presidential candidate. Senator Lieberman is the first member of the Jewish religion to be nominated for vice president by a major party.

Joseph Lieberman was born in Stamford, Connecticut, in Nineteen-Forty-Two. He was educated at Yale University and became a lawyer. He served first in the Connecticut state senate. He was elected to the United States Senate twelve years ago. There he became known for honesty and effective leadership. He supports strong moral values. He was among the first to condemn President Clinton for having sexual relations with a young White House worker.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush disagree on most major issues. Al Gore believes women should have the right to end pregnancies if they choose. He supports gun control and restrictions on tobacco sales. He supports higher wages for the lowest paid workers. Governor Bush opposes him on these issues.

Governor Bush supports a plan that would provide public money for students to attend private schools. And he supports investing taxes on government retirement money in private retirement plans. Vice President Gore opposes these measures.Several other candidates also are running for president in the November Seventh election. They represent small political parties. They are called "third party" candidates. For example, public interest activist Ralph Nader is the candidate of the Green Party. He has attacked large corporations for having too much influence in America. Another third party, the Reform Party, divided this year after a major dispute. One group of party members chose conservative commentator Patrick Buchanan as its candidate for president.

Other party members chose a less conservative candidate, scientist John Hagelin [HAY-ga-lin]. They joined a coalition with the Natural Law Party. The third party candidates are not expected to win many votes.Who can run for president of the United States? The Constitution lists only three requirements for candidates. They must have been born in the United States. They must be at least thirty-five years old. And they must have lived in the United States for more than fourteen years. On November seventh, as they do every four years, American voters will decide who will be their next president.

This program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Shirley Griffith.And I'm Sarah Long. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.