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Part 2

Who Deserves Your Vote?


5. Is Virginia clean enough; what approaches to clean air and water do you favor, what are the wrong approaches?

Allen: Virginia is improving. We [the Allen administration] had proposals based on sound science. We need to embrace the advances of science and technology to improve the quality of air and water in Virginia. As governor I proposed over $70 million in new funds to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The Potomac's major problem is wastewater. We put in $5 million to improve wastewater treatment. We also put in substantial tax credits for companies to buy recycling equipment. At the federal level the same approach ought to be done to buy equipment. The federal government ought to use good science to improve the environment. Many of the Superfund sites are in urban areas. A lot of lawyers make money out of lawsuits. I'd like to see them clean these up. Give them immunization from lawsuits. The other [proposal] is encouraging teleworkers so people don't have to be on the roads. It will improve our air quality. This is using technology to improve the environment. The current Clinton administration is fearful of people working at home. OSHA wanted to regulate home workplaces so they could sue if you tripped over a cord.

Robb: Some rather strange questions, the way you come at them. I have long been a supporter of the environment. I was not only one of the original co-signers of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, but I have supported the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. My opponent takes a different approach to both of those. But the bottom line is the League of Conservation Voters gave me a lifetime rating of 78 percent, and my opponent a lifetime record of 13 percent. So we have very different approaches to how we support an environment as clean, as pristine as possible, and passing on an environment that is even healthier than the one inherited to our children and grandchildren.

6. Benjamin Franklin said that there are only two sure things: death and taxes. When a person dies he or she is hit by both at the same time. Many leaders have criticized the estate tax because the person has already given half of his salary to the government while he was living. The estate tax also makes it difficult for people to pass on a family-run business. Do you favor eliminating the estate tax? How would your plan work?

Allen: That's actually an environmental matter. There are so many family farms subdivided to pay the death tax. This could be subdivided into 300 homes or a shopping center. In my view there should be no taxation without respiration. I think we should give the death penalty to the death tax. They hit you with income tax, sales tax, capital gains tax and then they hit you with a tax when you die.

Robb: I've already voted to eliminate the estate tax. I think we can make that provision ultimately fair. But I have always believed that the occasion of the death of a principal owner of small business or a farm should not bring the added burden of the dissolution of the farm or small business. We ought to postpone the taxation until there is a disposition of the asset. And that's consistent with the bill I voted for and we passed. The president did veto that bill, so it's going to have be reconsidered. But I have already voted for elimination of the estate tax as we know it today.

7. What is your position on abortion? Will you vote for a ban on partial birth abortions?

Allen: I will vote to ban partial-birth abortion. It's a gruesome procedure. The American Medical Association has said it's akin to infanticide. That's another difference with my opponent. My opponent votes against the ban. He sides with Clinton. As governor, we passed a parental notification bill. For children to have their ears pierced they have to get parental consent, and abortion is a much more serious procedure than ear-piercing. I would be for parental consent, also, but all we could get through was notification.

Robb: Well, first of all, I have voted against what is described as a ban on partial-birth abortions. That legislation would not ban a single abortion. I don't believe the government ought to tell doctors and medical personnel how to conduct medical procedures. I have co-sponsored and voted for a total ban on late-term abortions except in the case of [loss of] life or grievous harm to the mother. In any event, I have held from the beginning that the government ought not to be telling medical personnel how to conduct medical procedures. … But if we're concerned about late-term abortions then let's handle those. And I have offered with (Sen.) Tom Daschle and others an amendment that has been regrettably rejected by those who are the proponents of the ban that you just described. Because they're interested in keeping the issue alive and ultimately undermining the whole choice movement. I have always been pro-choice. I have never been pro-abortion. I believe that decision ultimately ought to be made by a woman and her physician, family, conscience. But the government ought not to dictate reproductive choice decisions with respect to a mother, particularly in the stages that are covered by Roe v. Wade.

8. The tobacco industry has endured heavy fire recently. Smoking has been demonized in American culture. Many anti-tobacco advocates claim that their main concern is youth smoking. What can we do to protect children while at the same time protecting the rights of adults to use tobacco products and making sure that we do not destroy a Virginia industry that employs thousands of people in Virginia?

Allen: Numerous hardworking, decent, honest people whether they work at Philip Morris, or farms or work in warehouses bring in so much revenue to the community. Children should not smoke. We have a lot of laws on the books. There should be fines for those who sell to minors. Adults know the risks. They may have to pay higher health-insurance premiums. Adults should be responsible for our actions. For so many years there have been health warning labels on products.

[image-1](Bill Tiernan / The Virginian-Pilot)Charles RobbRobb: I have been working on that for some period of time. Among other things, we can do everything we can to help those who are in a position to enforce the laws to keep tobacco products out of the hands of children. Both the industry settlement and other activities have continued to work in that direction. … I'm completely supportive of positions that would have done everything we could to limit the availability of smoking products to those who are underage, but would in no way prohibit the use of legal materials by those who choose to make a decision. I don't think there's any question in the mind of most people today that people who choose to smoke understand the consequences. That might not have been true 15 or 20 years ago, but I think it's clearly true today. So you have a legal product. You have some folks, whether they're in the growing or production or any phase of the operation, there are whole communities that have been dependent on a tobacco culture for a long period of time. I have worked very hard to make sure that we to the extent that any government decisions are taken that would adversely affect those communities, farm families, and others, that the government make accommodations for both individuals and communities that would be adversely affected. I've also encouraged the development of alternative uses of tobacco. I was just down at Virginia Tech talking about a program with those folks there. In much the same way that Tech came up with an alternative use for tobacco … for areas when I was governor that involve growing of broccoli. And that proved to be successful in terms of a crop, but it was unsuccessful in terms of distribution. … Now they're looking at possible beneficial ways to use tobacco in the production of pharmaceuticals and the treatment for diseases. There's certainly a number of encouraging alternatives. We're also working to help tobacco-growing regions become less dependent and able to make a transition for those who want to move out of it. We have a real responsibility if we make any decisions at the government level that have a clear and direct impact on the honest, hardworking families that have been involved in that particular trade or industry for a long period of time to help them either find some other form of livelihood or to make sure that their communities have the kind of support they need.

9. Gays have become more visible in American society today. We have even seen an openly gay member of Congress speak at the Republican Convention. What is your position on gay rights? Do you favor legal protections for homosexuals? Do you favor changing marriage laws to permit marriage between two persons of the same gender? Would you vote yes on a hate crimes bill?

Allen: No, no and yes. There is a means of legal protection. The result would be more laws which are harmful to small businesses. Marriage is between a man and a woman. People of the same gender can enter into any kind of business partnerships they want to. Let's not call it marriage. The Defense of Marriage Act would defend Virginia from having same-sex marriages. The hate crimes in Virginia had to do with race and religion. If they can prove the murder was caused by hatred of someone's race, religion or sexual orientation, I would favor it. The opposition would say how are you going to prove it [sexual orientation]. That's up to the prosecutor. If they can prove the elements of the crime, I would support enhanced punishment.

Robb: I've already voted yes on hate crimes legislation. And I have consistently supported equal rights and equal protection for all. I don't support what some would describe as special rights for anyone. But I do believe that all human beings ought to have the same basic protections. And the laws ought to be crafted and enacted in such a way that they do not discriminate. I've spent a great deal of my career in the public arena fighting discrimination whether it's based on race, gender, ethnic background, religion or sexual orientation.

[image-2](Chad Hunt / Style Weekly)George Allen10. The moment of silence in public schools was recently affirmed by a federal court. In response to the decision, Attorney General Mark Earley said "[The] decision affirms the constitutional guarantees of religious tolerance and freedom for Virginia students." Do you agree with Earley?

Allen: I do agree. It's a good statement by Earley and I do agree. I don't think children should be forced to recite a prayer. But a moment of silence is not oppressive. People can think about what they want to.

Robb: I haven't read the attorney general's decision. As long as there is no coercive element involved I don't object to it. But I have consistently opposed any attempt to permit or require any particular religious denomination to craft any type of religious observance for others. I think we ought to separate church and state. The safeguards of the Constitution require us to make sure we're not directly or inadvertently requiring those who may hold to the tenets of one particular faith to be, in effect, forced to listen to or observe the tenets of another. Religious freedom is one of the most important elements of the founding of this country. I have continued to support that separation of church and state.

11. Do you support Virginia's celebration of Confederate History and Heritage Month? What does Confederate Heritage mean to you?

Allen: I understand that there are people who look at Confederate Heritage as part of their heritage. Their family members fought valiantly protecting their state. I understand why some look at the Confederate government as restricting their freedom, the part of the African-American community whose ancestors were slaves. Part of the problem is that there have been hate groups I deplore who take the Confederate flag for hateful purposes instead of the love of valor, family and state. When I was governor we had Confederate Heritage Month as well as proclamations for Virginians whose ancestors were Greek, African-American, Polish. I had no intention of offending anyone. There are people who come to Virginia to see the battlegrounds, and it's part of our history and our tourism. I like to unify people. It's unfortunate it's become so divisive. Slavery is the worst part of our country's history. But you can't ignore history and the Confederacy.

Robb: I did not and would not have signed a declaration that was insensitive to the implications of heritage, particularly as it reflected an insensitivity to the abomination of slavery. To the extent heritage is celebrated and observed in the proper place it's fine. But to the extent that we celebrate it in a way that is fairly insensitive to the views of any segment of our society I would think that it is inappropriate.

12. Tell us something you really like about your opponent.

Allen: He lives in Virginia and I like all people who live in Virginia.

Robb: This the strangest interview that I think I have ever .… I thought it was going to be a serious interview. And I've got some time constraints. It sounds to me like we're way off the kind of things that are going to be relevant to the year 2000 Senate race.

13. Ralph Nader has been quoted as saying: "Remember, 'Government of, by and for the people?' They've forgotten that .… It's government of the big corporations, by the big corporations, for the big corporations, and they are all present here with their slush funds and their limousines and their parties and their yachts. ... Active citizens are left shouting their concerns over a deep chasm between them and their government." (San Francisco Examiner, 8/4/00)

Many moderate-thinking voters, middle-class working people agree with statements like these. These are not fringe thinkers or anarchists. How do you convince them that you are not bought and paid for and that there are substantive differences between the Republican and Democratic parties?

Allen: Look at my actions as governor. I was accessible to the people. I would bring the governor's office to the people. People would say no governor had ever come into this area. I always pride myself that my office is open to the people. The owners of the government are the people. I'm guided by common-sense Jeffersonian principles. I've kept my promises whether it was about abolishing parole or welfare reform. I don't make many promises, but when I do, I keep them.

Robb: You have to look at my record. I don't think that anyone has ever suggested that I fall into the category. But I'll stand on my record.

14. Is there any injustice so egregious that you would encourage young people to march against it?

Allen: Marching, sure. Marching, writing letters, giving speeches is all good. I don't think we should desecrate the U. S. flag. There ought to be a march against the marriage penalty tax. They get hit with (an extra) $1,400 on average.

Robb: There's all kinds of injustice in the world. The idealism of young people is frequently the spark that causes us to change and address major concerns. Even though we have made progress in changing laws we haven't always changed habits or hearts. I think it's critical that we continue to listen to young people. I have found that, with three daughters growing up and listening to them and their friends, I get a very different insight on a number of topics those who are a little bit older might not think about or think about in the same way. In many many cases it's the idealism of young people who marched that brought about an end to segregation and an end to a lot of other areas of intolerance and forced governments to look at their policies to respect to how they administer people, how they administer punishment. My own approach has normally been to work with the chief policymakers to make decisions, but I have a very high regard for those who have enough passion about an issue to be very vocal and to make their voice known in some way that doesn't bring about a formal breach of the law, but is enough to cause us to search our consciences in terms of what we believe is right or just in terms of public policy.

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