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TIME

LENO, LETTERMAN –AND LEHRER?

Only viewers watching the presidential debate on C-SPAN were privy to moderator Jim Lehrer’s warm-up monologue with the audience. Lehrer summoned the audience to attention with a godlike “Let there be silence.”

A Lehrer excerpt:

“Hello, everybody … Mr. President [to Gerald Ford, sitting in the first row], I hereby designate you hall monitor. You have my permission, sir, to whack anybody who gets out of line … How you all doin’? Just fine, just fine. Look, if I can do this, anybody can do it … You O.K., really? Everything all right? Did you get enough to eat?” In reply to someone’s question as to where Don Imus was going to sit: “No comment. No fair to ask me questions.”

IT ALL SEEMS SO FAMILIAR

In Washington these days, there’s a feeling of political deja vu. The time: 1972. The candidates: George McGovern and Richard Nixon. President Nixon was headed for a landslide re-election. McGovern was assailing the President on ethics and trying to get some traction on a little-known scandal called Watergate.

MCGOVERN

“It is a scandal-ridden, corrupt Administration that does not deserve four more years in public life.”

“Not in my memory has an Administration handled the truth more cynically than has this Administration.”

“If we have ever had in the history of this country a special-interest Administration that was bought and paid for lock, stock and barrel by selfish interests, it’s [this] Administration.”

“The unemployed here need more than sermons on the work ethic. They need jobs.”

DOLE

“[The American people] see scandals almost on a daily basis. They see ethical problems in the White House today.”

“The problems of [this] Administration have become … a habit of half-truths … [the] rhetoric he adopts is intended to mask, not reveal, his true intentions.”

“They take money-laundering to an art form in this Administration. Here’s a President who often talks about a bridge to the future, but more often it seems a bridge to wealthy political donors.”

“Did you say you’re unemployed? [to a questioner at last week’s debate] … the first thing we got to do is get you a job.”

IF ONLY IT WERE 1796 …

Pollsters normally ask voters how they would vote if the election were held today. But if this election were held in 1796, the polls would tell a far different tale. Until well into the 19th century, only white males could vote; in that situation, Bill Clinton would not be the odds-on favorite. He leads Dole 59% to 28% among women and 86% to 4% among African Americans. But if only 18th century-eligible electors could vote, the election would be too close to call.

From a telephone poll of 1,676 registered voters taken for TIME/CNN on Oct. 10-11 by Yankelovich Partners Inc. Sampling error plus or minus 2.5%.

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