Vice President Gore weighed in yesterday on Texas Gov. George W. Bush's foreign policy pop quiz, saying his lack of basic knowledge on foreign policy issues was more troubling than his inability to name the leaders of three foreign countries.
Gore took the Republican front-runner to task for suggesting that the Pakistani general who took control of the government in a coup last month, overthrowing a democratically elected leader, was going to bring "stability to the country and I think that's good news for the subcontinent."
"I find it troubling that a candidate for president in our country--the world's oldest democracy--would characterize this military takeover as 'good news,' " Gore said in a statement issued by his campaign. "Further, I find it even more disturbing that he made these comments about a nation that just last year tested nuclear weapons--shortly after voicing his opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty."
Gore campaign officials reveled in Bush's misstep this week. They noted that Bush has been less than forgiving of Gore's flubs. Gore has been a punch line in Bush's stump speech. "This administration no more invented prosperity than they invented the Internet," Bush says, in reference to Gore's much-publicized boast about his role in creating the Internet. In an interview Wednesday on Boston's WHDH-TV, Bush was asked if he could name the leaders of Pakistan, Taiwan, Chechnya and India, all of whom have been in the news lately. Bush was only able to name Taiwan's.
Bush aides yesterday contended his comment on Pakistan was generally consistent with the position of the administration, which condemned the coup by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, but had been dissatisfied with Pakistan's previous leader, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
"Governor Bush agrees with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and State Department spokesman James Rubin, who welcomed General Musharraf's pledge to work for a return to democracy," Bush campaign spokeswoman Karen Hughes said in a statement. "Neither Governor Bush nor the United States government condones coups but both Governor Bush and the Clinton administration, with the apparent exception of Vice President Gore, welcome the easing of tensions in the region."
In an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America, President Clinton took it easy on Bush, saying he would "soon enough learn their names. . . . The most important thing is, do you have a clear idea of what the world ought to look like and what America's policy ought to be in these areas, so that's what I would say."
Gore's rival in the Democratic race, Bill Bradley, echoed the president's sentiments, telling reporters in Boston: "I thought that it was--shall I say--a pop quiz that not everybody could answer. . . . I've been spending the night studying foreign leaders, as well as any other questions that might come about life. . . . You can't be prepared for all these things, and I think what the real question is where do you want to take the country."