I was working from memory, and here's about the closest I can find, from the second debate:
MR. LEHRER: People watching here tonight very interested in
Middle East policy, and they're so interested that they want to make a
-- they want to base their vote on differences between the two of you,
as president --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Chuckles.)
MR. LEHRER: -- how you would handle Middle East policy. Is
there any difference?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I haven't heard a big difference right --
in the last few exchanges.
GOV. BUSH: Well, I think -- it's hard to tell. I think that --
you know, I would hope to be able to convince people I could handle
the Iraqi situation better. I mean, we don't --
MR. LEHRER: With Saddam Hussein, you mean?
GOV. BUSH: Yes, and --
MR. LEHRER: You could get him out of there?
GOV. BUSH: I'd like to, of course, and I presume this
administration would as well. But we don't know -- there's no
inspectors now in Iraq. The coalition that was in place isn't as
strong as it used to be. He is a danger; we don't want him fishing in
troubled waters in the Middle East. And it's going to be hard to --
it's going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the
pressure on him.
MR. LEHRER: Do you feel that is a failure of the Clinton
GOV. BUSH: I do.
MR. LEHRER: Vice President?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, when I -- when I got to be a part of
the current administration, it was right after I was one of the few
members of my political party to support former President Bush in the
Persian Gulf War Resolution. And at the end of that war, for whatever
reasons, it was not finished in a way that removed Saddam Hussein from
I know there are all kinds of circumstances and explanations, but the
fact is that that's the situation that was left when I got there. And
we have maintained the sanctions.
Now, I want to go further. I want to give robust support to the
groups that are trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein. And I know there
are allegations that they're too weak to do it, but that's what they
said about the forces that were opposing Milosevic in Serbia. And you
know, the policy of enforcing sanctions against Serbia has just
resulted in a spectacular victory for democracy just in the past week.
And it seems to me that having taken so long to see the sanctions
work there, building upon the policy of containment that was
successful over a much longer period of time against the former Soviet
Union and the Communist Bloc, it seems a little early to declare that
we should give up on the sanctions. I -- I know the governor is not
necessarily saying that, but you know, all of these flights that have
come in, all of them have been in accordance with the sanctions
regime, I'm told, except for three, where they notified.
And they're trying to break out of the box, there's no question
about it. I don't think they should be allowed to.
MR. LEHRER: Are you -- did he correct -- did he state your
position correctly? You're not calling for eliminating the sanctions,
GOV. BUSH: No, of course not. Absolutely not. I want them to
Actually, it looks like Gore was even more hawkish than Bush in this case. Both candidates called for a harder line with Iraq. I'll look to see if I can find anything more explicit. But you're right--it doesn't look like either candidate was calling for war explicitly. (Although Gore's stated support for anti-Hussein groups is probably an act of war)