Scoring Points for Character in the Presidential Race

I was disappointed in the "Scoring the Debates" box, Oct. 9. I agree with criteria such as "Knows facts," "Avoids mistakes," "Gets message across," and I suppose, "Doesn't overreact." But I wonder about including "Relaxed," "Gets share of time," "Quick, assured," "Polite," and even "Sense of humor." The list tends to be too general and superficial.

To qualify for the highest post in the land, shouldn't voters care about more substantial aspects of character such as being persuasive, practical, and idealistic - real leadership qualities? Robert C. Goodspeed, St. Louis Honesty an issue

Regarding the Opinion page column "Voters' `New Tolerance' May Go Too Far," Sept. 29: Tolerance in today's society has a lot to do with American politics. Article after article and interview after interview tell us that lying and misinformation by a candidate or politician are OK as long as an untruth is within the family or a small lie at best.

Yet how often do small lies become big lies? And if a person is willing to tell a lie once or twice, is he or she not willing to lie in another situation? Yes, the author is correct. Character should be an issue in this campaign and in every election. Glen Anderson, St. Paul, Minn. Clinton's Arkansas

I live in a state where violent crime has increased 95 percent over the past 10 years. Maybe it's because our per capita spending on police protection ranks 50th in the nation. The crime problem in our state really hits home with me. I have been a victim of both armed robbery and rape in the past 10 years. Neither criminal was caught.

As a wife, a mother, and a taxpayer, I'm concerned about our state and the future of our nation. You see, for the past 10 years our governor has been Bill Clinton. If you think you'd like Mr. Clinton to lead America, try living under his leadership in Arkansas. Patty Roberts, Little Rock, Ark. Perot as president

Ross Perot is one presidential candidate we do not need. We the people of the United States do not need someone to be elected as president who doesn't know what he wants to do. First he runs, then he drops out, then after both political conventions are over, he decides he wants back in - he really doesn't know what he wants. We, as Americans, had better vote wisely at the polls in November. Irene Douglas, Los Angeles Funding for schools?

Our country is still a leader in overcoming religious and ethnic conflict, and our success stems from a common language and culture. This commonality is established in large part by our public schools. But President Bush is now threatening this by his education plan; he wants in effect to take money from public schools to send children to schools of their parents' choice.

Think of the implications of Mr. Bush's proposal. Separating children will deny them the opportunity to learn how to get along with children of other religions or ethnic origins. We could fragment our nation by educating our future citizens solely along the beliefs and values of religious, social, or political groups. Trying to police the classrooms of private schools to meet national standards would be a bureaucratic and legal nightmare.

We, as a nation, are benefited by a rich religious and ethnic diversity, but only within the framework of our common culture and language. President Bush's education plan would undermine that framework. Ernest J. Breton, Duluth, Minn.

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