Bush Gearing Up for Debates

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Republican presidential nominee George W Bush is looking forward to his first face-to-face debate Tuesday night with his Democratic rival, Vice President Al Gore, according to campaign officials in Texas.

Bush is spending the weekend doing debate preparations, including having a mock debate with New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg playing the role of Gore at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas. But the Bush campaign believes the pressure will be more on Gore in when the two finally meet.

"The governor looks forward to the debate, he sees it as an opportunity to layout his vision and his agenda for the future of our country," said Bush Communications Director Karen Hughes during a conference call with reporters. "He's going to talk about his plans and his agenda for America to do better for all our children and all public schools and to do better for our seniors by providing them more health care choices and prescription drug coverage."

Bush also plans to emphasize his plans for reforming Social Security and Medicare, as well as emphasizing income tax relief and rebuilding America's military, according to Hughes.

Hughes also touched on the public's expectations of each candidate going into the debates, saying the circumstances favor Bush. "We think that the pressure in this debate is really on Vice President Gore," said Hughes, who went so far as to compliment Gore's talents in such venues.

"We all know that the vice president is a world class debater. He is acknowledged to be the most experienced debater in American politics today," said Hughes. "We expect that he'll have some of the best lines Hollywood can write at his disposal during the debate. But we believe Governor Bush will more than hold his own by speaking from his heart, by showing his convictions and outlining his positive agenda for the country."

Hanging over the upcoming confrontations between Bush and Gore is the recent controversy over a videotape of Bush's debate practice being shipped to Gore campaign operative Tom Downey, who alerted authorities to the incident as soon as he realized what had happened. But Hughes said the incident has not changed Bush's debate preparation plans.

"We would prefer not to have a tape of the governor engaging in a debate delivered to our opponent," said Hughes. "We think Congressman (Tom) Downey did the right thing in turning it over to the FBI. We hope that others in the Gore campaign did not see any of the material but we don't really know that."

An investigation into how the tape wound up in the hands of a Gore operative remains under investigation by the FBI, but Hughes said the inquiry hasn't posed any problems for the campaign.

"In terms of its impact on the governor, there has not been any impact, he is looking forward to this debate as an opportunity to explain his policies. He does that on the campaign trail everyday. The difference in the debate is that a lot more people will be watching," Hughes said.