Sioux City Journal   Sunday, January 23, 2000

Bush, Gore best choice for nation

The Sioux City Journal endorses the presidential candidacies of George W. Bush and Al Gore in Monday's Iowa caucuses.

Experience is the chief reason why.  Experience, particularly in the executive branch of government, has better prepared those two men to be the next president.  Both men have a vision for the future and have the experience of working within the legislative process - with members of the opposition as well as members of their own party - to achieve their goals.

While we admire the other Republicans in the field - the passion of Alan Keyes, the service to country of John McCain, the statesmanlike demeanor of Orrin Hatch, the moral compass of Gary Bauer, the intellect of Steve Forbes - and the convictions those men hold, we believe the Texas governor is best qualified to be his party's nominee for president.

And while we think Bill Bradley is a good and decent man and we applaud his campaign's willingness to tackle complex and emotional issues, such as health care, we believe the vice president has earned the opportunity to carry the Democratic Party's banner into the fall election.

We wish Bush's daunting campaign war chest hadn't in essence driven out candidates such as Lamar Alexander,
Dan Quayle and Elizabeth Dole so early, perhaps played a part in keeping McCain from campaigning in Iowa, and provided the governor with such an overwhelming advantage over most of the rest of the field.

But the reality is that there are six candidates left, and we feel Bush stands out from the rest of the pack.

Bush governs what is the nation's second largest state, both in terms of population and area.  If Texas were a country, it would have the 11th largest economy in the world.  It is a diverse place, full of challenges, problems, issues and opportunities, a microcosm of America itself.

He must do the kinds of things a president does - possess vision, set an agenda, make policy, make tough choices and decisions, and forge consensus.

During his five-plus years as governor, Bush has cut taxes and cut growth in state spending, reduced the welfare rolls, and been a leader in passing reforms in education, civil justice and juvenile and criminal laws.  He was overwhelmingly elected to a second term in 1998 with nearly 69 percent of the vote.

During his campaign for the presidency, he has laid out a realistic, detailed plan for cutting taxes and offered plans for improving education and strengthening our military.  His "compassionate conservative" message and promise for honor and integrity in the Oval Office appeal.

As governor, he has shown he can get things accomplished.  In short, he's been a leader.

As for Gore, while we acknowledge that as a sitting vice president he enjoys certain unique advantages as a qualified Democrat in the race.

By all accounts he has been an active vice president, a true partner and adviser to Bill Clinton, involved in all foreign and domestic policy matters.  He in particular has taken an administration lead in such areas as streamlining government, high technology and the environment.  With some exceptions, he has been a fighter for his core constituencies.

As a candidate for president, he has put forth a vision of his own, with proposals for improving health care and
education and keeping the economy strong.

Should, as we fully expect, Bush and Gore capture their party's nominations and face each other in the fall, the stage will be set for a most interesting battle - the son of the man Gore's boss defeated in 1992 and Gore himself.

Gore will make the case for the accomplishments of the past eight years, his role in them, and why he should be given the opportunity to continue and expand on that record.  Bush will challenge him on the failures and the shortcomings and make the case for change in the Oval Office.

And that, we believe, would present the best choice of candidates for Americans.

Reprinted by Permission of the Sioux City Journal.  All Rights Reserved.