Gore, the former Democratic vice president who unsuccessfully ran against President Bush in 2000, said that the Republican incumbent and his opponent John Kerry (search) are both going through elaborate preparations for the debate scheduled for Thursday.
"It just makes me sort of — huhhh — sigh," said Gore, whose heavy sighing during answers given by Bush during a 2000 debate got much unwanted attention.
The topic of Thursday's 90-minute showdown in Coral Gables, Fla., will be foreign policy and national security. Dole, former Republican Senate majority leader who ran against President Clinton in 1996, said foreign policy will be a focus for the entire election.
Dole said that candidates want to do well in the first debates since the audience drops off for the second. And he knows from experience what Kerry will face.
"It's always a little intimidating when you're debating a sitting president," Dole said.
When a student asked what advice he'd give Bush for the debates, he said that being relaxed was key.
"They've got to be themselves," he said.
The two former candidates also spoke about the war in Iraq and the role the Vietnam war has played in the election.