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Kerry Dominates Weld in Debate

News Analysis

By Richard M. Burnes, Special to The Crimson

WORCESTER--Much like the 31-0 thrashing the New England Patriots gave the Phoenix Cardinals on Sunday, Sen. John F. Kerry walked all over Gov. William F. Weld '66 in last night's senatorial debate.

Kerry's arcane policy explanations were drowned out by the governor's frequent quips in past debates. But the Yale graduate was unusually concise and colorful during this the fifth of seven debates between the two, held at Mechanics Hall in Worcester.

"Governor, you switch your positions faster than your friend Dick Morris," Kerry said, referring to the former Weld consultant who recently left the Clinton campaign amidst a sex scandal.

While Weld, a former Adams House resident, showed flashes of the wit and sarcasm that many felt helped him win the past three debates, Kerry's momentum yesterday seemed unstoppable.

The Bay State's junior senator traded his often passive style for a confrontational, aggressive attitude.

He was on the attack, citing the effects that proposed Republican tax cuts would have on education, Medicare and the environment, and frequently criticizing the governor's relationship with Congressional Republicans and Republican presidential nominee Robert J. Dole.

"The difference between John Kerry and Bill Weld is that he [Weld] supports Bob Dole's tax cuts, I don't," Kerry said.

As in past debates, Weld castigated Kerry for his votes to increase taxes.

Weld suggested that if Kerry's name was "John Six Pack instead of John Forbes Kerry," he may not have endorsed an increase in the gas tax.

Again appealing to his liberal constituency, Kerry asserted that the recipients of Weld's tax cuts were hardly needy.

"You would have taxed the little person, I would have taxed the cigarette company" Kerry shot back.

The two candidates also sparred on crime.

Weld, a supporter of the death penalty, boasted of increasing mandatory sentences for convicted felons.

Kerry, however, chided the governor for his reluctance to hire more police officers.

Defense spending made its first appearance in any debate. Weld said programs like the B-2 bomber need to be "looked over," but warned against sharply cutting defense spending.

"We need to be ready to fight a two-front war anytime, any place," Weld said.

Kerry, pointing to Congressional Republicans' support of defense spending increases, said Weld was contradicting himself.

"You said you want to take a look a the B-2 bomber. You supported a budget that builds more. You're gonna get to look at a whole lot of them," Kerry said.

The candidates will square off in a sixth debate Oct. 15 at Stonehill College in Easton and Oct. 28 at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

Last Sunday's Boston Globe poll showed Kerry and Weld in a statistical dead heat; 42 of those polled supported Kerry and 38 percent Weld. The margin of error was five percent

Defense spending made its first appearance in any debate. Weld said programs like the B-2 bomber need to be "looked over," but warned against sharply cutting defense spending.

"We need to be ready to fight a two-front war anytime, any place," Weld said.

Kerry, pointing to Congressional Republicans' support of defense spending increases, said Weld was contradicting himself.

"You said you want to take a look a the B-2 bomber. You supported a budget that builds more. You're gonna get to look at a whole lot of them," Kerry said.

The candidates will square off in a sixth debate Oct. 15 at Stonehill College in Easton and Oct. 28 at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

Last Sunday's Boston Globe poll showed Kerry and Weld in a statistical dead heat; 42 of those polled supported Kerry and 38 percent Weld. The margin of error was five percent

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