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Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) on Campaign 2000

Free Media
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Official Site: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.)
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Campaign 2000
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Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2000; 8 p.m. EDT

The opening night of the Democratic National Convention featured a tribute to the party's six female senators, including Louisiana's Mary Landrieu. What does Vice President Gore need to do to earn the support of women? What will he have to do to win Louisiana in November? What is she doing to help the Democrats overcome their five-seat deficit in the Senate?

Sen. Landrieu was online on Tuesday, Aug. 15. The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Free Media: The latest Washington Post poll indicates that Bush and Gore are running neck-and-neck among registered women voters. What can either candidate do to break the deadlock?

Sen. Mary Landrieu: I believe that if women focus on the Gore record, they will be moved to support him. He has been for many things that are important to women, including initially expanding economic opportunity -- specifically, minimum wage increases, start-up businesses, venture capital, training, education, child care -- all of the tools women need, regardless of their income bracket, these are all things that women need to advance themselves and their families economically.

I think the Gore record is very clear, and if that record is portrayed accurately, women will be moved to support this ticket -- and frankly, men will too.

Denver, Colo.: As a native of New Orleans, I have followed your career closely,and wish I could have voted for you in your Senate election campaign. How will Al Gore's good environmental record be distorted by Republicans in Louisiana?

Sen. Mary Landrieu: First of all, thank you so much for your support. It's been a great honor to be a senator from our state.

I believe that the Gore-Lieberman ticket will be attractive to Louisianians despite the fact that Gov. Bush is right next door in Texas and a neighbor, if you will. People in Louisiana are becoming more supportive of environmental issues, and as long as it's done in a common-sense way, I think they're going to be very attracted to the Gore-Lieberman approach.

By the way, Lake Ponchatrain looks great -- the water's cleaner than it's been in years, and the brown pelicans are back.

Washington, D.C.: First, allow me to say how nice it was to meet you. My niece and I had the opportunity to speak with you briefly in the Senate lobby during "Take your daughter to school day" in April.

Now, my question is on education.

Keeping in mind the issues of federalism, what can the U.S. government do to ensure education funding is utilized to resolve the goals identified (i.e. building more schools, paying teachers more)?

Put another way, earmarking block grants always come under attack my those contending a one-size-fits-all approach to education spending doesn't work. But, how can the federal government make sure that state governments don't use education for some else that they merely call "education?"

Sen. Mary Landrieu: Sen. Lieberman is the lead senator -- and I'm a cosponsor -- on a bill to revamp the way the federal government assists local governments to improve and strengthen our schools. The goals of our new approach are to target more carefully the federal dollars to make sure they are reaching to the schools and the districts and the children that need the most help. And secondly, to significantly increase investments. But thirdly, to do that with strong accountability at every level. In contrast, many friends in the other party want simply to block grant everything to the states with no targeting and no accountability, and we believe the American people want to see accountability along with new investments.

Washington, D.C.: Can you explain why a tax cut is a bad thing? I want my money back.

Sen. Mary Landrieu: I actually believe a tax cut is a good thing, and I have voted for a reduction in the capital gains tax. I'm also supporting the repeal of the marriage penalty, and in addition I would like to see an eventual elimination of even the state tax. I don't believe death should be a taxable event. People should just pay the normal capital gains on appreciated assets, and because I think it's important for families to be able to pass businesses down generationally, and for people not to be penalized for being productive.

The only thing I want to add is that these tax reductions and new investments have to be in the context of keeping our budget in balance, keeping the surplus going -- if we're wise and careful in our choices, we can in fact get tax relief and maintain our commitment to a balanced budget.

Free Media: With Democrats down by only five seats in the Senate, what are you doing to help win the majority in November?

Sen. Mary Landrieu: There are several candidates I'm supporting around the nation -- one of them is [Rep.] Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, Gov. Nelson in Nebraska, [Gov.] Tom Carper in Delaware, and Bill Nelson in Florida -- just a tremendous number of very well qualified, energetic, very attractive Democratic candidates.

I believe that a good turnout and a real focus on the strength of this economy, it is very likely that [Minority Leader] Tom Daschle [S.D.] could become the majority leader in the Senate.

Free Media: Unfortunately, Sen. Landrieu had to run to do another interview, so that was our last question today. Thanks so much to Sen. Landrieu, and to everyone who joined us.

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