State of Alabama secondary Archives: on Free Trade

Al Gore: Debate with Perot was instrumental in passing NAFTA

In the fall of 1993 the White House faced heavy opposition to NAFTA from labor and House Democrats. The opposition said the accord would accelerate the exodus of high-paying manufacturing jobs across the border. That point was made most vividly by Ross Perot, who predicted that it would produce a “giant sucking sound” made by the companies headed for Mexico. [In preparing for the televised debate with Perot, Gore] spotted a magazine photograph of the protectionist authors of the 1930 Smoots-Hawley tariff act, widely believed to have worsened the Depression, and during the debate Gore presented it to an irritated Perot. Gore also asked Perot about the free trade zone operated by Perot’s son at his Texas airport, which was promoted as a gateway to business in Mexico. “If it’s good enough for him, why isn’t it good enough for the rest of the country?” Gore asked. Gore’s strong performance and Perot’s meltdown changed the dynamic of the NAFTA debate. The pact passed the House 234-200.
Source: Inventing Al Gore, p.283-5 Mar 3, 2000

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Page last updated: Mar 28, 2014