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Gore, Quayle's war of words left questions unanswered

There they went again.

A day after the testy vice presidential debate, Vice President Dan Quayle and Sen. Al Gore sparred at a distance, as if locked in a debate without end.

"I think this administration is unraveling," said Gore, the No. 2 man on the Democratic ticket. "George Bush is in a political panic," he contended, noting confirmation by the administration that it had searched through embassy files overseas for Vietnam-era information on Clinton.

With the GOP lagging in the polls, Quayle countered with a reprise of his Tuesday night debate charge that Clinton wasn't a man to be trusted _ except to raise taxes and spending.

"The American people want to have a president that they can trust, and can they really trust Bill Clinton?" the vice president asked on ABC's Good Morning America.

Ross Perot's running mate, James Stockdale, who sometimes appeared overmatched during the debate, told an ABC interviewer he had been "a little taken aback by the rapidity at which these guys turned on the faucet and just started coughing out" their comments.

But Stockdale added: "Don't ever doubt that I'm qualified for the job. What we need in this thing is leadership, and I've been a leader in the most extreme circumstances you can imagine" _ an apparent reference to his time in captivity after being shot down over Vietnam.

"I don't think either one of those people up there on the platform with me last night could have handled it," Stockdale said.

The furious pace of Tuesday's vice presidential debate left a welter of unanswered questions and unsubstantiated charges hanging.

Here is a look at some of the charges to see how they square with the facts:

Gore charged that the Bush administration was using public funds to encourage the closing of American factories and relocating the jobs abroad, which Quayle denied.

And Quayle may be technically correct in that no U.S. funds appear to have gone directly to move a company overseas.

But as a practical matter, the Agency for International Development gives money to countries in Central America to assist them in obtaining U.S. investment for development. The aid recipients _ especially El Salvador and Honduras _ have used the money to advertise for American businesses, especially textile manufacturers, to move their operations to those low-wage countries. The countries also use U.S. aid to help finance low-cost investor loans, training and tax breaks, and to build industrial facilities for lease to foreign companies.

Labor unions and congressional critics estimate that 700,000 American jobs have been lost because of the program.

But the Quayle camp responded immediately after the debate with a release stating that the program had created "more than a million new jobs" in the United States by fostering the growth in U.S. exports to Latin America and the Carribean.

Quayle said that "one of the proposals that Sen. Gore has suggested is to have the taxpayers of America spend $100-billion a year on environmental projects in foreign countries," citing page 304 of Gore's book on the environment, Earth in the Balance.

Quayle's charge was a misrepresentation of Gore's position.

In the book, Gore argues that the task of preserving the Earth is at least as important as the Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after World War II. He says that, in today's dollars, the Marshall Plan would cost $100-billion a year.

Nowhere does he say that the United States ought to pay $100-billion for environmental projects overseas.

On another matter stemming from Gore's book, Stockdale asked if it was true that even the Tennessean's scientific mentor, the late Roger Revelle, had come to disagree with Gore's characterization of the need to take drastic action to stop global warming.

But in a recent article in the Washington Post opinion section, Revelle's daughter, Carolyn Revelle Hufbauer, said: "Nothing could be farther from the truth."

The allegation that Revelle had come to soften his views about the dangers of global warming results from his having been misquoted and having his words distorted, she said.

Gore charged that Bush had not sent his health-care reform plan to Congress while Quayle said parts of it had been there for years. Some portions of Bush's plan are on Capitol Hill but the cornerstone _ a voucher system to help low-income families buy insurance _ was never sent up.

Quayle charged that Gore had recently changed positions on abortion, which Gore denied.

Supporting Quayle's contention, however, is a 1987 letter to a constituent in which Gore expressed opposition to abortion, saying that he viewed it as "arguably the taking of human life."

In the letter, Gore said that he had consistently opposed federal funding for abortions. Gore has since said that he supports public funding of abortions only as part of a comprehensive national health care program and that he fully supports Clinton's strong abortion-rights position.

Quayle charged that under the Clinton-Gore economic plan, everyone with incomes above $36,000 would face a tax increase because "you simply can't get" the $150-billion the plan calls for by raising taxes only on households with incomes above $200,000. The Clinton-Gore plan actually proposes a tax cut for middle-income Americans and gets most of its new revenue by closing corporate loopholes _ not just taxing the rich.

_ Information from the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press and the Washington Post was used in this report.