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The BBC's Philippa Thomas
"Both delivered a strong performance"
 real 56k

Friday, 13 October, 2000, 14:18 GMT
Gore dismisses debate 'defeat'

Gore and Bush focused first on world issues

US voters declared George W Bush the winner of Wednesday's televised debate but his opponent Al Gore on Thursday dismissed the results of snap opinion polls.

Snap polls (%) Bush Gore
46 - 30 ABC News
49 - 36 CNN
40 - 37 NBC News
51 - 48 CBS News
In the most decisive of a series of surveys, ABC News gave victory to Mr Bush by 46% to Mr Gore's 30%. Other surveys were closer but none put the vice-president ahead.

But Mr Gore said after the debate he thought he had succeeded in outlining his priorities.

Speaking on NBC television, he pointed out that polls taken after last week's first debate showed he had won, but "after a couple of days' reflection, people, some of them, reversed their judgement".

Gore and wife Tipper kiss again
Gore and wife Tipper repeated their popular kiss in Milwaukee on Thursday
Mr Bush said he was pleased with his performance, telling ABC television: "I think what people are looking for is judgement and vision, philosophy."

The margin for error in the snap polls was between 4% and 5%, which is greater than for the regular running polls, and are not considered a reliable indicator of long-term public opinion.

The two candidates remain neck-and-neck in polls asking the public who they would vote for.

The presidential election is less than four weeks away on 7 November.

Foreign policy

Wednesday's debate in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, focused on foreign policy and steered clear of bitter exchanges.

In a first half dominated by global affairs, Al Gore and George W Bush called on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to restrain the violence in the Middle East and stated strong support for Israel.

But they disagreed over the degree of US intervention abroad and the Clinton administration's handling of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Analysts said neither man appeared to deliver a knockout blow during this debate.

'Love fest'

At many times early on the two opponents seemed to be agreeing with each to the point that Mr Bush remarked the encounter seemed like a "love fest".
George W Bush in Michigan
George W Bush left the debate to hit the campaign trail in Michigan

On the issue of sending American troops abroad, Mr Bush said he was concerned about overcommitting US forces.

Mr Gore said the US had a duty to engage in what he called nation-building, and to take into account humanitarian concerns when deciding whether to intervene.

Apology

In the latter half of the debate the candidates clashed over racism, education, homosexuality and other domestic issues.

At the end of their 90 minutes, Mr Bush said Mr Gore had misrepresented several facts in their first debate.

"I got some of the details wrong," the vice president responded. "I'm sorry about that and I'm going to try to do better."

The third presidential debate is scheduled for Tuesday 17 October.

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See also:

12 Oct 00 | Americas
Gore and Bush 'support' Israel
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Gore v Bush: Now it's personal
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04 Oct 00 | Americas
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