Here are excerpts from Tuesday night's presidential debate between President Carter, the Democratic candidate, and his Republican challenger, Ronald Reagan.
Q: . . . The question of war and peace has emerged as a central issue in this campaign . . . Specifically, what are the differences between the two of you on the uses of American military power?
Reagan: . . . I'm only here to tell you that I believe with all my heart that our first priority must be world peace, and that use of force is always and only a last resort when everything else has failed. . . .
Now, I believe also . . that we cannot shirk our responsibility as the leader of the free world because we're the only one that can do it, and therefore the burden of maintaining the peace falls on us. And to maintain that peace requires strength. . . .
And good management in preserving the peace requires that we control the events and try to intercept before they become a crisis. . . .
Followup question: . . . we've been hearing that the defense buildup that you would associate yourself with would cost tens of billions of dollars more than is now contemplated. . . . How do you reconcile huge increases in military outlays with your promise of substantial tax cuts and of balancing the budget . . .?
Reagan: I have submitted an economic plan that . . . over a five-year projection . . . can permit the extra spending for needed refurbishing of our defensive posture, [and that] can provide for a balanced budget by 1983 if not earlier.
Mr. Carter's economic policy has built into the next five years and on beyond that a tax increase that will be taking $86 billion more next year out of the people's pockets than was taken this year. And my tax cut does not come close to eliminating that $86 billion increase. I'm only reducing the amount of the increase. . . .
Carter: . . . The fact is that this nation in the eight years before I became president had its own military strength decrease. Seven out of eight years, the budget commitments for defense went down, 37 percent in all.
Since I've been in office, we've had a steady, increase in our commitment for defense. But what we've done is to use that enormous power and prestige and military strength of the United States to preserve the peace.
. . . There are always trouble spots in the world. And how those troubled areas are addressed by the president alone in that Oval Office affects our nation directly.
"The involvement of the United States and also our American interests, that is a basic decision that has to be made so frequently by every president who serves. That's what I've tried to do successfully by keeping our county at peace.
Followup question: . . . Under what circumstances would you use military forces to deal with, for example, a shutoff of the Persian Gulf if that should occur or to counter Russian expansion beyond Afghanistan into either Iran or Pakistan. . .?
Carter: In my State of Union address earlier this year I pointed out that any threat to the stability or security of the Persian Gulf would be a threat to the security of our own country. . . .
But . . . we have made sure that we address this question peacefully, not injecting American military forces into combat but letting the strength of our nation be felt in a beneficial way. . . .
Reagan (rebuttal): I question the figure about the decline in defense spending under the two previous administrations . . . I would call to your attention that we were in a war that wound down during those eight years, which, of course, made a change in military spending because of a turning from war to peace.
I also would like to point out the Republican presidents in those years, faced with the Democratic majority in both houses of the Congress, found that their requests for defense budgets were very often cut.
Now, Gerald Ford left a five-year projected plan for a military buildup to restore our defenses and President Carter's administration reduced that by 38 percent . . . and now is planning a mobile military force that can be delivered to various spots in the world, which does make me question his assaults on whether I am the one that is quick to look for use of force.
Carter (response): . . . I think habitually Governor Reagan has advocated the injection of military forces into troubled areas when I and my predecessors, both Democrats and Republicans, have advocated resolving those troubles . . . peacefully, diplomatically and through negotiation. . . . Inflation and the Economy
Q: Mr. President, when you were elected in 1976, the Consumer Price Index stood at 4.8 percent. It now stands at more than 12 percent. . . . Now a part of that was due to external factors beyond U.S. control, notably the more than doubling of oil prices by OPEC last year. Because the United States remains vulmerable to such external shocks, can inflation, in fact, be controlled? If so, what measures would you pursue in a second term?
Carter: . . . In 1974 we had a so-called oil shock, wherein the price of OPEC oil was raised to an extraordinary degree. We had an even worse oil shock in 1979. In 1974 we had the worst recession, the deepest and most penetrating recession since the Second World War. The recession that resulted this time was the briefest we've had since the Second World War.
In addition, we've brought down inflation. Early this year, the quarter, we did have a very severe inflation pressure, brought about by the OPEC price increase. It averaged about 18 percent the first quarter of this year. . . . The most recent figures, the last three months or the third quarter of this year, the inflation rate is 7 percent. Still too high, but it illustrates very vividly that in addition to providing an enormous number of jobs -- 9 million new jobs in the last 3 1/2 years -- that the inflationary threat is still urgent on us.
I noticed that Governor Reagan recently mentioned the Reagan-Kemp-Roth proposal . . . and said that it would result in a 30 percent inflation rate. And Business Week, which is not a Democratic publication, said that this Reagan-Kemp-Roth proposal . . . was completely irresponsible and would result in inflationary pressures which would destroy this nation.
So our proposals are very sound and very carefully considered: to stimulate jobs, to improve the industrial complex of this country, to create tools for American workers, and at the same time would be anti-inflationary in nature. . . .
Followup question: You have mentioned the creation of 9 million new jobs. At the same time, the unemployment rate still hangs high, as does the inflation rate. Now, I wonder, can you tell us what additional policies you would pursue in a second administration in order to try to bring down that inflation rate, and would it be an act of leadership to tell the American people they're going to have to sacrifice, to adopt a leaner lifestyle for some time to come?
Carter: Yes, we have demanded that the American people sacrifice and they've done very well. As a matter of fact, we are importing today about one-third less oil from overseas than we did just a year ago. We've had a 25 percent reduction since the first year I was in office. . . .
Also, the new engery policy has been predicated on two factors: One, conservation, which requires sacrifice, and the other one, increase in production of American energy. . . . More coal [has been mined] this year than ever before in history. More oil and gas wells [have been] drilled this year than ever before in history. The new economic revitalization program that we have in mind, which will be implemented next year, would result in tax credits which would let business invest in new tools and new factories, to create even more new jobs. . . . And we also have planned a youth employment program, which would encompass 600,000 jobs for young people. . . .
Reagan: . . . Mr. Carter became president, inflation was 4.8 percent . . . It is now running at 12.7 percent.
President Carter also has spoken of the new jobs created. Well, we always, with the normal growth in our country and increase in population, increase the number of jobs. But that can't hide the fact that are 8 million men and women out of work in America today and 2 million of those lost their jobs in just the last few months.
Mr. Carter had also promised that he would not use unemployment as a tool to fight against inflation. And yet his 1980 economic message stated that we would reduce productivity and gross national product and increase unemployment in order to get a handle on inflation . . . Since then, he has blamed [OPEC] for inflation. . . . He's blamed the Federal Reserve system. He has blamed the lack of productivity of the American people. He has then accused the people of living too well, and that we must share in scarcity, we must sacrifice and get used to doing with less.
We don't have inflation because the people are living too well. We have inflation because the government is living too well . . . .
Followup question: . . . Specifically, where would you cut government spending if you were to increase defense spending and also cut taxes so that, presumably, federal revenues would shrink?
Reagan: I believe that there is enough extravagance and fat in government . . . We've had the General Accounting Office estimate there is probably tens of billions of dollars that is lost in fraud alone and they have added that waste adds even more to that.
We have a program for a gradual reduction of government spending based on these theories. And I have a task force now that has been working on where those cuts could be made.
I'm confident that it can be done and that it will reduce inflation because I did it in California. And inflation went down below the national average in California when we returned money to the people and reduced government spending.
Carter (rebuttal): . . I notice that his task force that's working for his future plans had some of their ideas revealed in the Wall Street Journal this week. One of those ideas was to repeal the minimum wage. And several times this year, Governor Reagan has said that the major cause of unemployment is the minimum wage. This is a heartless kind of approach to the working families of our country, which is typical of many Republican leaders in the past, but I think has been accentuated under Governor Reagan.
. . . California . . . had the three largest tax increases in the history of that state under his administration. He more than doubled state spending while he was governor . . . and had between a 20 and 30 percent increase in the number of employes in California.
Reagan (response): The figures that the president has just used about California is a distortion of the situation there because while I was governor of California, our spending in California increased less per capita than the spending in Georgia while Mr. Carter was governor of Georgia in the same four years . . . . Race Relations and Cities
Q: The decline of our cities has been hastened by the continual rise in crime, strained race relations . . . the persistence of abnormal poverty in a rich nation, and a decline in the services to the public. The signs seem to point toward a deterioration that could lead to the establishment of a permanent underclass in the cities. What specifically would you do in the next four years to reverse this trend?
Reagan: I have been talking to a number of congressmen who have much the same idea that I have. And that is that in the inner-city areas, that in cooperation with local government and with national government, and using tax incentives and with cooperation with the private sector, that we have development zones, let the local entity, the city, declare this particular area, based on the standards of the percentage of people on welfare, unemployed and so forth, in that area, and then through tax incentives induce the creation of businesses providing jobs and so forth in those areas.
. . . I think there are things to be done in this regard. I stood in the South Bronx on the exact spot that President Carter stood in 1977. . . . There are whole blocks of land that are left bare, just bulldozed down flat. And nothing has been done . . . .
Carter: When I was campaigning in 1976, everywhere I went the mayors and local officials were in despair about the rapidly deteriorating central cities of our nation. We initiated a very fine urban revewal program . . . That's one of the main reasons that we've had such an increase in the number of people employed. Of the 9 million people put to work in new jobs since I've been in office, 1.3 million of those has been among black Americans and another million among those who speak Spanish . . . .
Reagan (rebuttal): The president talks of government programs and they have their place, but as governor, when I was at that end of the line and receiving some of these grants for government programs, I saw that so many of them were dead-end, they were public employment for these people who really want to get out into the private job market where there are jobs with a future.
. . . every time [minimum wage] is increased, you will find that there is an increase in minority unemployment among young people and therefore I have been in favor of a separate minimum for them . . .
Carter (response): . . . there's no doubt in my mind that the commitment to unemployment compensation, the minimum wage, welfare, national health insurance . . . those kinds of commitments that have typified the Democratic Party since ancient history in this country's political life are a very important element of the future.
. . . Governor Reagan has repeatedly spoken out against them, which to me shows a very great insensitivity to giving deprived families a better chance in life . . . . Terrorism and the Hostages
Q: . . . do you have a policy for dealing with terrorism wherever it might happen and what did we learn from this experience in Iran that might cause us to do things differently if this or something happens again?
Carter: . . . . Ultimately, the most serious terrorist threat is if one of those radical nations who believe in terrorism as a policy should have atomic weapons . . . .
When Governor Reagan has been asked about that, he makes a very disturbing comment, that nonproliferation, or the control of the spread of nuclear weapons, is none of our business. And when he was asked specifically recently about Iraq, he said there's nothing we can do about it . . . .
Reagan: . . . I have been accused lately of having a secret plan with regard to the hostages.
Now, this comes from an answer that I have made at least 50 times during this campaign to the press. Which is, that the question would be: 'Have you any ideas of what you would do if you were there.' And I said, 'Well yes' . . . These are just ideas of what I would think of if I were in that position and had access to the information in which I would know all the options that were open to me. I have never answered the question . . . that says, 'Well, tell me, what are some of those ideas.' . . . I would be fearful that I might say something that was presently under way or in negotiations and thus expose it and endanger the hostages. And . . . some of my ideas might involve quiet diplomacy where you don't say in advance . . . what it is your're thinking of doing . . . w
[Once the hostages are released] I think it is time for us to have a complete investigation as to the diplomatic efforts that were made in the beginning . . . and I would suggest that Congress should hold such an investigation. In the meantime, I'm going to continue praying that they will come home.
Carter (rebuttal): I didn't hear any comment from Governor Reagan about what he would do to stop or to reduce terrorism in the future.
Secondly, we all committed ourselves . . . not to permit the spread of nuclear weapons to a terrorist nation or to any other nation that does not presently have those weapons . . . .
Reagan (response): . . . I would like to correct a misstatement of fact by the president. I have never made the statement that he suggested about nuclear proliferation, and nuclear proliferation or the trying to halt it would be a major part of the foreign policy of mine. Arms Control
Q: Both of you have expressed the desire to end the nuclear arms race with Russian, but by methods that are vastly different . . . . Will you tell us why you think you are [right]?
Reagan: . . . The SALT II treaty was the result of negotiations Mr. Carter's team entered into after he had asked the Soviet Union for a discussion of actual reduction of nuclear strategic weapons, and his emissary, I think, came home in 12 hours, with having heard a very definite "nyet." But taking that one "no" from the Soviet Union, we then went back into negotiations on their terms because . . . the Soviet Union sat at the table knowing that we had gone forward with unilateral concessions without any reciprocation from them whatsoever . . . .
. . . Besides which, [SALT II] is illegal, because the law of the land passed by Congress says we cannot accept a treaty in which we are not equal . . . .
Carter: . . . there is a disturbing pattern in the attitude of Governor Reagan. He has never supported any of those arms control agreements: the limited test ban, SALT I nor the antiballistic missile treaty nor the Vladivostock treaty negotiated with the Soviet Union by President Ford and now he wants to throw into the wastebasket a treaty to control nuclear weapons on a balanced and equal basis between ourselves and the Soviet Union negotiated over a seven-year period by myself and my two Republican predecessors . . .
Reagan (rebuttal): . . . if I have been critical of some of the previous agreements, it's because we've been out-negotiated for quite a long time. . . I am not talking of scrapping, I am talking of taking the treaty back and going back into negotiations. . . That is hardly throwing away a treaty and being opposed to arms limitation.
Carter (response): Governor Reagan is making some very misleading and disturbing statements. He not only advocates the scrapping of this treaty . . . but he also advocates the possibility . . . of playing a trump card against the Soviet Union of a nuclear arms race and insisting upon nuclear superiority by our own nation as a predication for negotiation in the future with the Soviet Union. . . .
Reagan (response): . . . my point . . . does not call for nuclear superiority on the part of the United States. It calls for a mutual reduction of these weapons, as I say, to the point that neither of us can represent a threat . . . to the other. . . . Energy and Conservation
Q: Americans, through conservation are importing much less oil today than we were even a year ago. Yet U.S. dependence on Arab oil as a percentage of total imports is today much higher than it was at the time of the 1973 Arab oil embargo . . . Can the United States develop synthetic fuels and other alternative energy sources without damage to the environment and will this process mean steadily higher fuel bills for American families?
Carter: [Reducing oil dependency] can only be done in two ways.
One, to conserve energy, to stop the waste of energy, and secondly to produce more American energy. . . . We've now reduced the importing of foreign oil in the last year alone by one-third.
. . . with the windfall profits tax as a base, we now have an opportunity . . . to expand rapidly the production of solar energy and also to produce the conventional kinds of American energy. . . .
Reagan: . . . I do believe that this nation has been portrayed for too long a time to the people as being energy poor when it is energy rich.
. . . one-eighth of our total coal resources is not being utilized at all right now. The mines are closed down, the 22,000 miners out of work. Most of this is due to regulations which either interfere with the mining of it or prevent the buring of it. . . .
. . . There were 36 [nuclear] power plants planned in this country . . . but 32 of those have given up and canceled their plans to build [because of] government regulations. . .
Carter (rebuttal): . . . Governor Reagan . . . blames restraints on coal production on regulations. . . We cannot cast aside those regulations. We have a chance in the next 15 years -- insisting upon the health and safety of workers in the mines and also preserving the same high air and water pollution standards -- to triple the amount of coal we produce.
Governor Reagan's approach . . . is to repel or to change substantially the windfall profits tax . . . to do away with the Department of Energy, to short-circuit our synthetic fuels program, to put a minimal emphasis on solar power, to emphasize strongly nuclear power plants as a major source of energy in the future. He wants to put all our eggs in one basket, and to give that basket to the major oil companies.
Reagan (response): That is a misstatement . . . I just happen to believe that free enterprise can do a better job of producing the things that people need than government can. . . . .
. . . I am suggesting that there are literally thousands of unnecessary regulations that invade every facet of business . . . Social Security
Q: Governor Reagan, wage earners in this country, especially the young, are supporting a Social Security system that continues to affect their income drastically. . . . How much longer can the young wage earner expect to bear the ever-increasing burden of the Social Security System?
Reagan : The Social Security system . . . is actuarially out of balance, and this first became evident about 16 years ago and some of us were voicing warnings then. . . .
What is needed is a study I have proposed by a task force of experts to look into this entire problem as to how it can be reformed and made actuarially sound, but with the premise that no one presently dependent on Social Security is going to have the rug pulled out from under them and not get their check. . . .
Carter: As long as there's a Democratic president in the White House we will have a strong and viable Social Security system, free of the threat of bankruptcy. Although Governor Reagan has changed his position lately, on four different occasions he has advocated making Social Security a voluntary system which would in effect very quickly bankrupt it. . . . On the Other's Weaknesses
Q: The biggest issue in the minds of American voters is yourselves, your ability to lead this country. . . . Would you please tell us why they should not vote for your opponent, why his presidency could be harmful to the nation, and having examined both your opponent's record and the man himself, tell us his greatest weakness.
Carter: . . . First of all is the historical perspective that I've just described. This is a contest between a Democrat in the mainstream of my party . . . as contrasted with Governor Reagan, who in most cases does typify his party, but in some cases there is a radical departure by him from the heritage of Eisenhower and others. . . .
[Reagan's inclination has been] not to resolve disputes diplomatically and peacefully, but to show that the exercise of military power is best proven by the actual use of it. . . . A president in the Oval Office has to make a judgment on almost a daily basis about how to exercise the enormous power of our country, for peace, through diplomacy, or in a careless way, in a belligerent attitude, which has exemplified his attitudes in the past.
Reagan: . . . I believe that there is a fundamental difference and I think it has been evident in most of the answers that Mr. Carter has given tonight: That he seeks the solution to anything as another opportunity for a federal government program. . . .
Carter (rebuttal): . . . I don't think [Reagan's departure from the principles of his party] can be better illustrated than in the case with guaranteeing women equal rights under the Constitution of our nation. For 40 years, the Republican Party platforms called for guaranteeing women equal rights with a Constitutional amendment. . . . Governor Reagan and the new Republican Party has departed from this commitment . . .
Reagan (response): . . . I happen to be against the amendment, yes, because I think the amendment will take this problem out of the hands of elected legislators and put it in the hands of unelected judges. . . . The Summaries
Carter: . . . I've been president now, for almost four years. I've had to make thousands of decisions, and each one of those decisions has been a learning process. I've seen the strength of my nation, and I've seen the crises that it approached in a tentative way, and I've had to deal with those crises as best I could. As I've studied the record between myself and Governor Reagan, I've been impressed with the stark differences that exist between us. I think the results of this debate indicate that that fact is true.
I consider myself in the mainstream of my party. I consider myself in the mainstream even of the bipartisan list of presidents who served before me. The United States must be a nation strong.The United States must be a nation secure. We must have a society that's just and fair. And we must extend the benefits of our own commitment to peace to create a peaceful world. I believe that since I've been in office there've been six or eight areas of combat evolve in other parts of the world.
In each case, I alone have had to determine the interest of my country and the degree of involvement of my country. I've done that with moderation, with care, with thoughtfulness, sometimes consulting experts, but I've learned, in this last 3 1/2 years, that when an issue is extremely difficult, when the call is very close, the chances are the experts will be divided almost 50-50, and the final judgment about the future of our nation -- war, peace, involvement, reticence, thoughtfulness, care, consideration, concern -- has to be made by the man in the Oval Office.
It's a lonely job, but with the involvement of the American people in the process with an open government, the job is a very gratifying one. The American people now are facing next Tuesday a lonely decision. Those listening to my voice will have to make a judgment about the future of this country, and I think they ought to remember that one vote can make a lot of difference. If one vote per precinct had changed in 1960, John Kennedy would never have been president of this nation. And if a few more people had gone to the polls and voted in 1968, Hubert Humphrey would have been president, Richard Nixon would not. There is a partnership involved. And our nation to stay strong, to stay at peace, to raise high the banner of human rights, to set an example for the rest of the world, to let our deep beliefs and commitments be felt by others in all other nations is my plan for the future. I ask the American people to join me in this partnership.
Reagan: . . . Next Tuesday, all of you will go to the polls, and stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we're as strong that we were four years ago?
And if you answer all of those questions 'yes,' why, then I think your choice is very obvious as to who you'll vote for. If you don't agree, if you don't think that this course that we've been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have.
This country doesn't have to be in the shape that it is in. We do not have to go on sharing in scarcity with the country getting worse off, with unemployment growing. We talk about the unemployment lines. If all the unemployment today were in a single line allowing two feet for each one of them, tht line would reach from New York City to Los Angeles, California.
All of this can cured, and all of it can be solved. I have not had the experience that the president has had in holding that office, but I think in being governor of California, the most populous state in the union -- if it were a nation it would be the seventh-ranking economic power in the world -- I, too, had some lonely moments and decisions to make.
I know that the economic program that I have proposed for this nation, in the next few years, can resolve many of the problems that trouble us today. I know because we did it there. We cut the cost, the increased cost of government, the increase, in half over the eight years. We returned $5.7 billion in tax rebates, credits and cuts to our people. We, as I've said earlier, fell below the national average in inflation when we did that. And I know that we did give back authority and autonomy to the people.
I would like to have a crusade today, and I would like to lead that crusade with your help. and it would be one to take government off the backs of the great people of this country, and turn you loose again to do those things that I know you can do so well, because you did them and made this country great.