Excerpts from debate show candidates giving and taking more punches

October 20, 1992

Excerpts from the third and final presidential debate:

ON CLINTON'S RECORD

* Mr. Bush: "Look at [Arkansas]. And that's what we're asking America to have?

"Now look, he says Arkansas's a poor state. They are. But in almost every category, they're lagging. I'll give you an example.

"He talks about all the jobs he's created in one or two years. Over the last 10 years since he's been governor, they're 30 percent behind -- 30 percent -- they're 30 percent of the national average -- on pay for teachers, on all these categories, Arkansas is right near the very bottom. . . .

"What's his mistake? Admit it, that Arkansas is doing very, very badly against any standard, environment, support for police officers, whatever it is."

* Mr. Clinton: "Mr. Bush's Bureau of Labor Statistics says that Arkansas ranks first in the country in the growth of new jobs this year . . . fourth in manufacturing jobs, fourth in the reduction of poverty, fourth in income increase.

"Over the last 10 years, we've created manufacturing jobs much more rapidly than the national average. Over the last five years, our income has grown more rapidly than the national average.

"We are second in tax burden, the second-lowest tax burden in the country. We have the lowest per capita state and local spending in the country. We're low spending, low tax burden.

"We dramatically increased investment, and our jobs are growing. I wish America had that kind of record, and I think most people looking at us tonight would like it if we had more jobs and a lower spending burden on the government."

* Mr. Perot: "Let's put it in perspective. [Arkansas] has a population less than Chicago or Los Angeles, about the size of Dallas and Ft. Worth combined. . . .

"So I think probably we're making a mistake night after night after night to cast the nation's future on a unit that small. . . . It's irrelevant. . .

"I can say, you know, that I ran a small grocery store on the corner, therefore I extrapolate that into the fact that I could run Wal-Mart. That's not true."

* Mr. Clinton: "Mr. Perot, with all respect, I think it is highly relevant. And I think that a $4 billion budget, state and federal funds, is not all that small.

"And I think the fact that I took a state that was one of the poorest states in the country and had been for 153 years and tried my best to modernize its economy and to make the kinds of changes that had generated support from people like the presidents of Apple computer and Hewlett-Packard and some of the biggest companies in this country, 24 retired generals and admirals and hundreds of business executives are highly relevant.

"And, you know, I'm frankly amazed that since you grew up five blocks from there, you would think that what goes on in that state is irrelevant. I think it's been pretty impressive."

ON FREE TRADE

* Mr. Bush: I'm caught in the middle on NAFTA. Ross says, with great conviction, he opposes the North American Free Trade Agreement. I'm for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"My problem with Governor Clinton, once again, is that one time he's going to make up his mind he will see some merit in it, but then he sees a lot of wrong with it. . . .

"Look, if Ross were right when we got a free-trade agreement with Mexico, why wouldn't [jobs] have gone down there now? You have a differential in wages right now.

"I just have an honest philosophical difference. I think free trade is going to expand our job opportunity. I think it is exports that have saved us when we're in a global slowdown, a connected global slowdown, a recession in some countries. And it's free trade, fair trade that needs to be our hallmark, and we need more free trade agreements, not fewer."

* Mr. Clinton: "I am the one who's in the middle on this. Mr. Perot says it's a bad deal. Mr. Bush says it's a hunky-dory deal. I say on balance it does more good than harm if -- if we can get some protection for the environment so that the Mexicans have to follow their own environmental standards, their own labor law standards, and if we have a genuine commitment to re-educate and retrain the American workers who lose their jobs and reinvest in this economy. I have a realistic approach to trade.

"I want more trade. And I know there's some good things in that agreement, but it can sure be made better.

* Mr. Perot: "You implement that NAFTA, the Mexican trade agreement where they pay people a dollar an hour, have no health care, no retirement, no pollution controls, etc., etc., etc, and you are going to hear a giant sucking sound of jobs being pulled out of this country right at a time when we need the tax base to pay the debt and pay down the interest on the debt and get our house back in order. We've got to proceed very carefully on that. . . .

"It's very simple. Everybody says it will create jobs. Yes. It will create bubble jobs.

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