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Debating the Debates

I disagree with the editorial "Citizens' Arrest," Oct. 19. The second presidential debate was by no means the best to date. It was a failure. The same day that the Monitor editorial ran, a member of the Richmond audience spoke on a nationwide radio talk show that dealt with how the debate was rigged.

The participant recounted the high-handed way organizers rejected his proposed question to Bill Clinton. The question would have put Governor Clinton on the spot regarding his draft record, his anti-war activities overseas, and how he would deal with anti-war protestors if he became president. In light of such censorship, the early demand from the audience that the candidates not attack each other's character may well have been rigged to strengthen the pro-Clinton bias. The result was a cramped discussio n and a great loss for the American electorate.

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Character is a serious issue in this campaign, and we should be leery of a nominee such as Clinton, whose character questions remain largely unresolved. We should be equally leery of the liberal agendas almost certain to become law during a Clinton administration: higher taxes; socialized medicine; gay rights; gun control; environmental overregulation. Such programs have already proved absurd at the state and local levels. Jim Hastings, Boston Perot's vice-presidential choice

The editorial "The Tabloid Debate," Oct. 15, questions Ross Perot's team-building skills based on his vice presidential selection. This ignores the situation Mr. Perot faced in making the selection. In order to get on the ballot in many states, he had to name a vice presidential candidate. He announced Vice Adm. James Stockdale as a stand-in to give him time for a more studied selection process. When Perot reentered the race, he had another vice presidential selection problem. In a number of states it wo uld have been impossible and highly impractical to get another candidate on the ballot. Les Bahr, Salem, Ore. Protecting our oil interests

Had President Bush not recognized the vital need to protect our oil interests in the Middle East, he might not have undertaken the risks of the Gulf war.

Had we not fought and won that war, it is likely that our domestic economy would be under considerably more strain and stress than at present. Mr. Bush had our domestic economy uppermost in thought in pursuing the Gulf war, but there has been very little said about this. The reason: when Americans fight wars, we like to think that it is more for immediate humanitarian need than for our own domestic self-interest.

When we "vote our pocketbooks" on Nov. 3, let us consider the president who looked out for our pocketbooks when he energized the forces needed to protect our oil interests. Ruth Maki, Cherokee Village, Ark.

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