SECTION: News; NAFTA Debate
LENGTH: 15076 words
HEADLINE: NAFTA Debate: Gore vs. Perot
BYLINE: LARRY KING;
ANNOUNCER: Welcome to a special edition of Larry King Live. The North American Free Trade Agreement. A deal to knock down trade barriers between Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Good or bad for Americans? Tonight, Vice President Al Gore meets Ross Perot, as Larry King and CNN present The NAFTA Debate. Now, from Washington, Larry King.
LARRY KING, Host: Good evening. We need to tell you off the top about some ground rules that have been agreed to by the vice president, Mr. Perot, and CNN. We have no studio audience here. Neither the vice president nor Mr. Perot have any staffers in the studio, nor may they talk with any assistants during the telecast. No representatives of either side are in the control room while we are on the air. Our guests may use notes, visual aids if they wish. We have no debate clock. This is no formal statement-and-rebuttal format. There's no time limit on questions or answers. The program will go 90 minutes.
To be fair about deciding who got to sit where, we tossed a coin earlier today. The vice president won, and chose the inside seat. Viewer calls will be screened and chosen by the producer of this program, who will make every effort to assure balance. The call-in number in the United States is (202) 408-1666. Overseas, (202) 408-4821. We'll give you those numbers again later. We'll start with the vice president. We're going to wing back and forth, and then include your phone calls.
When President Bush signed this in San Antonio, he was on our show, and then a few nights later I was with you and then-president- then-governor, now President-Elect, Clinton, asked about this, NAFTA, and the president said, to the best of my memory, 'Well, I'm basically for it. I want to see the side agreements and I want to hear what the unions object to, and then I'll come back and sort of let you know.' But it was not a definitive yes. What changed?
Vice President AL GORE: Well, we negotiated two side agreements that protect labor and protect the environment. And, not until the two side agreements were completed did we agree to support NAFTA. Now, this is a good deal for our country, Larry, and let me explain why.
KING: But, you were hedging earlier?
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, we said from the very beginning that we wanted to improve the basic arrangement, which we did with the side agreements. And the reason why this is so important can be illustrated by the story of a good friend of mine that I grew up with, named Gordon Thompson [sp?], who lives in Elmwood, Tennessee, with his wife Sue and his son Randy. He makes tires for a living. He's a member of the United Rubber Workers, and he's for this because he's taken the time to look at how it affects his job and his family. We make the tires in the world, but we have a hard time selling them in Mexico because they have a 20 percent tax, collected at the border, on all of the tires that we try to sell. Now, when they make tires and sell them into the United States, the tax at the border is zero. So it's a one-way street. NAFTA changes that. It makes it even-Steven.
KING: So he'll make more tires.
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, his job will be more secure, they'll make more tires, they'll be able to sell more tires. His son will have a better chance of going into that line of work, if that's what he should decide he wants to do, and, remember this - I mean, people think, 'Well, they don't buy tires.' Mexico bought 750,000 new cars last year. The Big Three sold them only 1,000, because they have the same barriers against our cars. Those barriers will be eliminated by NAFTA. We'll sell 60,000, not 1,000, in the first year after NAFTA. Every one of those cars has four new tires and one spare. We'll create more jobs with NAFTA.
KING: Weren't you a free-trader always, Ross?
ROSS PEROT: I am a free-trader now.
KING: Do you favor some sort of NAFTA?
Mr. PEROT: Absolutely.
KING: Then what's your rub?
Mr. PEROT: The problem is this is not good for the people of either country.
KING: Either country.
Mr. PEROT: You have my- yes. I think the important thing for everybody watching this show tonight to remember, this is not an athletic contest. This is not a question of who wins, whether I win or the vice president wins. This is a question of do the people of the United States and the people of Mexico win? Now, that's the important issue, and I'm sure we're in agreement on that. My concern is very simple. I look at many years experience in maquiladora programs, and-
KING: These are the-
Mr. PEROT: -here is what I see. This- we have a lot of experience in Mexico. I've been accused of looking in the rear-view mirror. That's right. I'm looking back at reality, and here is what I see after many years. Mexican workers' life, standard of living and pay, has gone down, not up. After many years of having U.S. companies in Mexico, this is the way Mexican workers live all around big new U.S. plants. Now, just think if you owned a big U.S. company and you went down to see your new plant, and you found slums all around it, your first reaction would be, 'Why did you build a plant in the middle of slums?' And your plant manager would say, 'Oh, there were no slums here when we built the plant.' And you say, 'Well, why are they here now?' They said, 'This is where the workers work.'
KING: Your agreement would have been a different NAFTA, right?
Vice Pres. GORE: And I would suggest-
Mr. PEROT: This would be a NAFTA that gives the people- now, what are the rules here? Do I answer his questions or yours?
KING: Well, mine, or both. This is freewheeling now.
Mr. PEROT: OK, but, the point being, this is- there it is. Here it is on a more personal basis. Livestock in this country, and animals, have a better life than good, decent, hardworking Mexicans working for major U.S. companies. And here's one just to look at.
KING: Now, all this-
Mr. PEROT: Now, here's a good, decent man working his heart out, making his cardboard shack. And the cardboard came from boxes that were used to ship the goods down there.
Vice Pres. GORE: Can I say something about this picture?
Mr. PEROT: This- I didn't interrupt you.
KING: OK, now, guys.
Mr. PEROT: Now, maybe it just-
KING: Is this- now, your concept would have been what, Ross? If this was a bad deal, what would you-
Mr. PEROT: All I'm saying is if after 10 active years- this has been in effect since the '60s, but let's say 10 active years, you would think the standard of living of the Mexican worker would begin to come up. Instead, it continues to go down, be design. Thirty-six families own over half the country-
KING: So, you're-
Mr. PEROT: Eighty-five million people work for them in poverty, U.S. companies, because it is so difficult to do business in this country, can't wait to get out of this country and go somewhere else, and, if possible, get labor that costs one-seventh of what it costs the United States.
Vice Pres. GORE: How would you change it? How would you change it?
Mr. PEROT: Very simply. I would go back and study- first, we look at this. It doesn't work.
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, what specific changes would you make in it?
Mr. PEROT: I can't- unless you let me finish, I can't answer your question. Now, you asked me and I'm trying to tell you.
Vice Pres. GORE: Right. Well, you brought your charts tonight, so I want to know what specific changes you would like to make in the treaty.
KING: That's a fair question. If you're against it- let him respond, OK?
Mr. PEROT: How can I answer if you keep interrupting me?
KING: All right.
Vice Pres. GORE: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Mr. PEROT: OK. Now, first, study the things that work. The European Community has had a similar experience. They got to Spain, Portugal, countries like that, where the wages were different, people didn't have rights, so on and so forth, and they made them come up the economic scale. In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt wrote a beautiful simple statement. And, basically, he said something very similar to what Congress Gephardt recently said. He said, 'Under no circumstances can we lower the standard of living of the working American.' Therefore, any trade agreement we enter into must require a social tariff, I would say, that makes it an even playing field, then gives Mexico an incentive to raise the standard of living with those people, which it does not have now.
Vice Pres. GORE: OK, can I respond now?
Mr. PEROT: They have lowered the standard of living for those people.
Vice Pres. GORE: OK. Now, so, your basic response is you would change it by raising tariffs-
Mr. PEROT: Now, I just started, but you interrupted.
Vice Pres. GORE: -on Mexico-
Mr. PEROT: That's the first thing I would do.
KING: Well, let's do it one by one.
Vice Pres. GORE: All right.
Mr. PEROT: It's the first thing I would do.
Vice Pres. GORE: OK, now, I've heard Mr. Perot say in the past, as the carpenter says, 'Measure twice and cut once.' We've measured twice on this. We have had a test of our theory, and we've had a test of this theory. Over the last five years, Mexico's tariffs have begun to come down because they've made a unilateral decision to bring them down some, and, as a result, there has been a surge of exports from the United States into Mexico, creating an additional 400,000 jobs, and we can create hundreds of thousands more if we continue this trend. We know this works. If it doesn't work, you know, we give six months' notice and we're out of it. But, we've also had a test of his theory.
Vice Pres. GORE: In 1930, when the proposal by Mr. Smoot and Mr. Hawley was to raise tariffs across the board to protect our workers. And, I brought some pictures too. You brought some pictures?
KING: [crosstalk] -of protectionist?
Vice Pres. GORE: This is a picture of Mr. Smoot and Mr. Hawley. They look like pretty good fellas. They sounded reasonable at the time. A lot of people believed them. The Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Protection Bill. He wants to raise tariffs on Mexico. They raised tariffs, and it was one of the principal causes - many economists say the principal cause - of the Great Depression in this country and around the world. Now, I framed this so you can put it on your wall if you want to.
Mr. PEROT: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
KING: Would raising tariffs produce another-
Mr. PEROT: You're talking two totally different unrelated situations. Now, you do need to measure twice and cut once, but, then, if you have a program that is failing, you should not institutionalize it. See, the Mexican program has failed. It's failed the people of Mexico, it's failed the people of the United States. These numbers they give of exports from the United States are not realistic numbers. For example, they count in the government figures automobile parts going into Mexico to be put into cars made by U.S. car companies in Mexico and shipped back to the United States to be sold as if Mexican consumers bought those parts. But it didn't happen.
Then, if you take a- let's just say you have a piece of glass crystal, that you spend $100 making it in this country. You're going to send it to Mexico to have $10 of additional work done to it. They count it as a $100 export, and then they count it as a hundred- you come into Mexico from the U.S., then they count it as $110 import back in the United States. Now, then, when you look at how they count, the real export figures to Mexican consumers are tiny. The used factory equipment coming from U.S. factories going into Mexico, new factories going to Mexico-
KING: Are not bought?
Mr. PEROT: No. No, no. It's a- Zenith moves equipment from the U.S. into Mexico. That's used equipment. Then we count that as if Mexican consumers bought it. Nobody bought anything. Old equipment just came to Mexico.
Vice Pres. GORE: Let me respond to that if I can because, unfortunately, there's a grain of truth to that, but it's so tiny that it's- I mean, it's not a half-truth, it doesn't quite rise to that level. There are a few things in that category, but the vast majority, 80 to 90 percent, are exports that stay in Mexico and are bought there. Here's what's happened to our trade surplus, and these figures are net figures. It takes into account everything that he's talking about in that small category.
In 1987, before Mexico started lowering its taxes at the border, its tariffs, we had a $5.7 billion trade deficit with Mexico. After five years, the goods we make and sell into Mexico, the volume has been growing twice as fast as the goods they make and sell in the United States. So, last year we had a $5.4 billion trade surplus. Now, if that trend continued for another two years, and NAFTA will, by removing those barriers, greatly accelerate it, we will have a larger trade surplus with Mexico than with any country in the entire world.
KING: Why are trade unions so opposed to it then?
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, some of them-
KING: I mean, it's your friend who makes the tire, and he's a union member, he's going to benefit from this. Why are the unions aligned with Ross Perot? Why do we have this alignment of Ross Perot, unions, Jesse Jackson, Pat Buchanan, and Ralph Nader?
Vice Pres. GORE: Because some of them make the same mistake that, with all due respect, Mr. Perot makes. They confuse the bad trade deals in the past with this one, which is the first time we've been able to get one that's even-Steven with zero on- zero taxes on both sides. You know, I told you about my friend Gordon Thompson. The international president of his union opposes NAFTA. Gordon Thompson has taken the time to look at the facts, and he supports NAFTA. Let me tell you who else has taken the time. Every living former president of the United States, in both parties. The two-termers and the one-termers. Every former secretary of state, every former secretary of defense, secretary of treasury. Every living Nobel Prize winner in economics, conservatives, liberals, every one in between. They'd never agreed on anything-
KING: Well, that fact-
Vice Pres. GORE: Wait, let me just finish this one point. And distinguished Americans from Colin Powell to Tip O'Neil to Rush Limbaugh, Ross Perot, Jr., the head of his business, Mort Meyerson, Orville Swindle, the head of United We Stand, the last time, and Ross Perot, Sr., supported it until he started running for president and attempting to bring out the politics of fear.
Mr. PEROT: Will I be able to speak-
KING: You sure may.
Mr. PEROT: -for a second or two? From time to time?
KING: You may, you- you're on.
Mr. PEROT: Because there's a lot of inaccuracies here. Let's go to the Big Picture and skip the personal stuff. People who don't make anything can't buy anything. Let's start with that. We are 85 percent of the market. Canada is 11 percent of the buying power.
KING: Of the total of the three markets.
Mr. PEROT: And Mexico is only 4 percent. People who don't make anything cannot buy anything. Never forget that. Now, then, let's look at these exports. See, here's Mexico, 4 percent; Canada, 11 percent; the United States, 85 percent. We're the biggest buyer of goods and services in the world. Please remember that tonight, that's one of our aces. Now, then, here's the real export story. You get down here, these are the phony exports down here. Here are the real exports here, about $7.7 billion. You take this thing into pieces. You take this big number here and take it right down to here, and that's what you're really talking about. And, just remember this. If you want to trade, you trade with people who make money. You don't trade with people who oppress their workers and they don't have any money.
Now, it's true- let's- Now, a good deal will sell itself, folks, just plain talk. Four former presidents came out for it and couldn't sell it. All the secretaries of state came out for it and couldn't sell it. We had satellite going across 200 auditoriums across the country. That didn't sell it. Got Lee Iacocca for it. That didn't sell it. Thirty million dollars coming out of Mexico, and that is rotten and that is wrong, and that didn't sell it. Thirty, thirty-five million dollars coming out of corporate America to try to get out of this country, go south of the border and hire that cheap labor, and that didn't sell it.
KING: Let me know when you-
Mr. PEROT: This dog just didn't hunt. Now, today they don't have the votes in the House of Representatives. We're in the third quarter. They can get them because they're buying them big-time with your tax money. We're working the halls night and day to make sure it doesn't happen. You can play a key role in it. But, sure, they all tried to sell it to you, and the fact that they couldn't demonstrates that this deal is not good for our country.
KING: All right, let me get a break and then- but, it doesn't impress you that every former president supports this?
Mr. PEROT: It impresses me that they couldn't do it.
Vice. Pres. GORE: - But it's not over with, yet.
LARRY KING, Anchor: - [unintelligible] that they support it?
Mr. PEROT: That they showed- those are the guys that cut the worst trade deal in history. He's already talked about it.
Vice. Pres. GORE: It's not- it's not over.
Mr. PEROT: - Wait just a minute, now! They did the Japanese deals, they did the Chinese deals-
KING: - We'll have the vice-
Mr. PEROT: - that cost you two million jobs.
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Do you think they fooled Colin Powell? Do you think they fooled Colin Powell?
Mr. PEROT: He's a great soldier, doesn't know anything about business.
KING: We'll have the vice president respond-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Do you think they fooled Lee Iacocca?
Mr. PEROT: They must have.
KING: - with Vice President Gore Ross Perot after this.
LARRY KING, Host: We're back on Larry King Live. We'll be going to your phone calls in about 15 minutes. And we're going to cover as much of this as possible. We're going to be getting to jobs and other aspects of it. But I want the vice president to respond to Mr. Perot, who's made some charges here that this is being bought.
Vice. Pres. GORE: Well, all of the- there's been more money spent against the NAFTA than for it, for sure. You can just look at the commercials. Every dollar that has been spent lobbying for it has been publicly disclosed. That is not true of the other side, and I would like to suggest to Mr. Perot-
KING: - You say they're hiding the-
Vice. Pres. GORE: Well, I think it would be a good idea, seriously, if you would publicly disclose the finances of your organization lobbying against it. They have not released the money spent, the contributors, where it's coming from, how much of it Mr. Perot's, where the rest of it is coming from.
But there was another statement I wanted to respond to, also. And that is that Mexico doesn't buy a lot of products, that they're too poor to buy a lot of products. There's a big misunderstanding in the minds of some people about that. They are buying a lot of products. In fact, they're our second largest customer for manufacturing goods. They will be one of the largest customers overall if the trends continue. They already are. Seventy percent of everything that they buy from a foreign country comes from the United States because we're so close to them and because they prefer our products.
KING: And this treaty would increase jobs here?-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Oh, no question about it-
KING: - Because there was an announcement today that it would be minimal either way.
Vice. Pres. GORE: There have been 23 studies of the impact of NAFTA on jobs in the United States. Twenty-two of them have shown that it will cause an increase in jobs in the United States. The one that didn't showed that there would be a decline in illegal immigration, and they counted all of the illegal immigrants as holding jobs. And when they were taken out of the picture, they said that was a decline. Everybody else says it increases jobs in the United States.
KING: On those points, Ross-
Mr. PEROT: OK. Government studies are kind of like weather forecasters before balloons, even, and certainly before radar.
KING: You don't trust them.
Mr. PEROT: Let me give you three. Let me give you three. Now we're back down to common sense. Number one - you remember in the tax and budget summit when they said, 'Watch my lips, no new taxes'? Then they gave you a big tax increase and they told you if you would pay it they would balance the budget, pay off the debt, and we'd live happily ever after. See? Now then, the new president had to raise taxes again because that one didn't work. And you picked up the difference.
Now, let's go to Medicare. When Medicare was first conceived in 1965-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Are we talking about NAFTA, or-
Mr. PEROT: I'm talking about government forecasts.
Vice. Pres. GORE: Well, can we talk about NAFTA?
Mr. PEROT: Excuse me, Larry, I don't interrupt. May I finish?
KING: No, but he brought up a specific point-
Mr. PEROT: - Could I finish?
KING: Yeah, but of course.
Mr. PEROT: I'm saying all government forecasts- how come the facts are-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Well, I don't want to sit here and listen to you just take shots at President Clinton on other subjects.
Mr. PEROT: Well, excuse me, I haven't taken a shot at it. He wasn't here in 1965. I'm saying-
Vice. Pres. GORE: Well, no, but you talked about-
Mr. PEROT: No, the, the-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - We tried to reverse trickle-down economics, and we're proud that we did.
Mr. PEROT: The, the tax and budget summit occurred before he became president.
Vice. Pres. GORE: Yeah, you went on from that, though. Why don't we talk about NAFTA?
Mr. PEROT: Excuse me. All I said was he had to raise taxes again. That's hardly a cheap shot.
Vice. Pres. GORE: Well, on the wealthy, on the wealthy.
Mr. PEROT: Oh, my goodness!
KING: Back to the point.
Mr. PEROT: That's the campaign promise.
KING: Let's try to stay on point. He says-
Mr. PEROT: I agree, I agree-
KING: He says- are you spending more money than the other side?
Mr. PEROT: Larry, I would really like to finish. I don't interrupt him, and if I could finish-
Mr. PEROT: Let me give these two examples. We've talked about the inability to forecast the debt - right? - and the fact that we have to keep paying more taxes. Then when Medicare came along in 1965, they said it would cost us $9 billion in 1990. It cost us $109 billion. Then, when Medicaid came along, they said it would cost $1 billion in 1990. It cost $76 billion in 1990.
KING: Meaning that you don't trust any government forecast?
Mr. PEROT: I'm saying they basically come out with phony numbers. He's talking about exports-
KING: - You're saying-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Can I respond?
KING: Hold it. You're saying the forecasts on NAFTA are phony?
Mr. PEROT: Yes. Then, let's take the next one. We say that we're spending more money against NAFTA than they're spending for it? That is not even close to truth. It is a matter of record how much record how much Mexico has spent. It is a matter of record how much USA/NAFTA has spent. You take-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Why isn't it a matter of record-
Mr. PEROT: - I, I-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - how much you all spent. Can that be a matter of public record? Can you release those numbers?
Mr. PEROT: I really would appreciate being able to speak.
KING: All right, go ahead, it was a question he raised before-
Mr. PEROT: - I really would-
Vice. Pres. GORE: It's a fair question, isn't it?
Mr. PEROT: Excuse me-
Vice. Pres. GORE: I raised it earlier.
Mr. PEROT: It was my understanding tonight we'd have a format where you would ask the questions.
Mr. PEROT: I would be able- I am not able to finish.
KING: But if he makes a statement- I'm just trying to balance so that he answers yours-
Mr. PEROT: Well, excuse me, I would like- I would like to finish a sentence, just once before the program's over.
Now, we are not able to buy time. If you are anti-NAFTA, you cannot buy time on the networks. We have had to go buy local station time. We cannot buy network time because the networks won't sell it. That's the covers on how much you're spending. We didn't run 10-page supplements in the New York Times, et cetera, et cetera.
Vice. Pres. GORE: OK, now, I'd like to respond to that, OK?
KING: Let him finish, he's got one more thing.
Vice. Pres. GORE: All right, go ahead. I do want to respond.
KING: For the benefit of both of you, our time is equal, you both have spoken equally tonight in time. We're keeping time in the control room so that we're fair.
Mr. PEROT: All right. And on the manufacturing goods, second largest manufacturing goods- second largest manufacturing goods, they send all this phony turn-around stuff and count it as though we sold it to Mexican citizens. Now, people who don't make any money can't buy anything. When you look at the Mexican worker, and you go to the Miami Herald, and you look at the man who works for Zenith in Mexico, and you compare him to his counterpart who works for Zenith in the United States, this poor man makes $8.50 a day. You know what his dream is? To someday have an outhouse. You know what his big dream is? To some day have running water. You know why these people are desperate for running water. Because Mexico ignores their pollution and environmental laws-
KING: - But this all is without NAFTA.
Vice. Pres. GORE: Yeah, that's all happening now-
Mr. PEROT: - Excuse me, excuse me, but this is the prelude to NAFTA. They have strong environmental laws that they don't enforce- now, just one second-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Let me respond to that-
KING: - Let him respond to that, and then we'll have-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - OK. First of all, you will notice, and the audience will notice, that he does not want to publicly release how much money he's spending, how much money he's received from other sources to campaign against NAFTA. I would like to see those public releases that other side has made.
Now, let me come to the point- he talked about accuracy of forecasts and numbers. I watched on this program, right here at this desk, when the war against Iraq was about to take place, and you told Larry King, 'This is a terrible mistake because it will lead to the death of 40,000 American troops.' You said you had talked to the person who had 'ordered the caskets.' You were wrong about that. You said on 'Larry King' just before the election that after Election Day, there would be 100 banks that would fail, costing the taxpayers $100 billion. You were wrong about that.
Now, the politics of negativism and fear only go so far.
KING: - All right-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - You started out as-
KING: - take a break, and I'll have Ross respond. We'll come back on 'Larry King Live'-
Mr. PEROT: - That has nothing to do with- but we'll have to fool with it, and I'll be happy to.
KING: OK, we'll come right back on 'Larry King Live.' We've got a lot to go, your calls, too. Don't go away.
KING [in progress] -President finish his statement and Mr. Perot respond, and then we'll get to some specifics and your phone calls.
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, you're getting to the key issue there because Bill Clinton and I were elected to do something about what's happening to working men and women to this country.
Vice Pres. GORE: They've been losing their jobs. There has been unfair competition from foreign countries that don't let our products in even though we buy their products. This will help to stop that. Some people want to stay with the status quo, just keep things the way they are. We want to open up these barriers. And let me give you a specific example. Valmont Electric Company in Danville, Illinois, less than a year ago was trying to sell products into Mexico. They've got a 13 percent tax at the border. We have zero tax coming the other way. They closed down in Danville, 400 jobs lost. They opened up in Mexico with 100 jobs down there, and now they ship their products duty free back into the United States through the Alliance Airport, which is the free trade zone that Mr. Perot's company has set up for- it's kind of a private free trade zone outside of Dallas-
KING: You're saying Mr. Perot-
Vice Pres. GORE: And they take Valmont Electric's products and distribute them through the United States duty free. Now, if we passed NAFTA, that 13 percent tax that they have at their border would be gone, and companies like Valmont could stay here in the United States, sell their products in Mexico, and not have to go down there to get over the barrier.
KING: Are you saying that Mr. Perot is personally benefiting by attacking NAFTA?
Vice Pres. GORE: I think he has set it up so that he will benefit financially either way. But if NAFTA passes- I mean, if NAFTA is defeated, this family business that has a free trade zone outside of Dallas will continue to distribute products coming from Mexico into the rest of the United States. What is the deal with Alliance?
Mr. PEROT: I think what the- I'll explain it, but we see here tonight is why our country is four trillion dollars in debt, going a billion dollars in debt every working day. Nobody everybody focuses on the real problems. Now, I'm going to try to say this as simply as I can. Alliance Airport is in Fort Worth, Texas, not in Mexico. Alliance Airport is owned by the city of Fort Worth, not my son. Do you shake head on that?
Vice Pres. GORE: No, the-
Mr. PEROT: Alliance Airport, check the FAA, is owned by the city of Fort Worth.
Vice Pres. GORE: You don't have ownership of Alliance Carter an Incorporated.
Mr. PEROT: The airport. Now, I'm going to- please.
KING: Let him finish.
Mr. PEROT: Let's have an unnatural event and try not to interrupt me. Now, my son owns land adjoining the airport. Now, the purpose of that land is to build factories and warehouses to be- so that industrial goods can be moved by rail and by air. Just- now, watch my lips. The jobs will be created in Texas. Texas is in the United States. The workers will be United States citizens. They will be paid U.S. wages. It is a job creator in the United States of America. And all of this other silly putty throw up- for example, the free trade zone concept goes back to the 1930s. It is nothing new about the free trade zone concept. You have to apply to the U.S. government to get it, and if it didn't make sense I guess they wouldn't have given it to him. But it is not aimed at doing business with Mexico.
Vice Pres. GORE: You're not involved in it?
Mr. PEROT: Mexico will be a tiny little pipe of this whole operation. Okay, if- I am putting my country's interest far ahead of my business interest.
KING: You would do wetter with NAFTA?
Mr. PEROT: I would- no. When I'm in a room with corporate America, the first thing they say is, 'Perot, why don't you keep your mouth shut. You could with your resources make more money than anybody else.' Here is the NAFTA game. Buy U.S. manufacturing companies cheap right after NAFTA passes that are labor intensive that make good products that have marginal profits, close the factories in the U.S., move the factories to Mexico, take advantage of the cheap labor, run your profits through the roof, sell the company stock at a profit, go get another one.
Vice Pres. GORE: That's what they do now. That's what they're doing right now.
KING: Are they doing that now?
Vice Pres. GORE: And they're using Alliance Carter Incorporated in part to do it.
Mr. PEROT: Oh, come on, come on. You're talking about something like a trickle of water coming over Niagara Falls as opposed to the gusher. You know it.
Vice Pres. GORE: Now, you say it's your son's business but isn't-
Mr. PEROT: Now, do you guys never do anything but propaganda?
Vice Pres. GORE: Isn't your business also-
Mr. PEROT: Would you even know the truth if you saw it?
Vice Pres. GORE: Oh, yes-
Mr. PEROT: I don't believe you would. We've been up here too long.
Vice Pres. GORE: Let me ask you a question.
Mr. PEROT: Please let me finish. This is not Crossfire, is it, Larry?
Mr. PEROT: May I finish?
Vice Pres. GORE: And then I'd like to ask a question.
Mr. PEROT: All right, I have tried to explain with countless interruptions that this creates jobs in the United States. I am extremely proud of what my son is doing. I want to answer the question that he jumped in to ask. I own a minority interest in the airport. This- everything I'm doing makes it next to impossible for my family to ever do anything south of the border, and I could care less, okay?
KING: You do no business in Mexico or going to?
Mr. PEROT: I have no- look, I will put my country's interest in front of making money.
Vice Pres. GORE: Let me know when I can respond.
Mr. PEROT: And I don't ever want to make money at the expense of other people. Now, I got interrupted a minute ago when you shifted it back-
KING: One other thing could finish with.
Vice Pres. GORE: No, I'd like to respond on this.
KING: The financing of the anti-NAFTA campaign, it had not been answered and he asked it.
Mr. PEROT: Okay, fine, I'll answer it. See, again, he throws up propaganda. He throws up gorilla dust that makes no sense.
KING: What is it then?
Mr. PEROT: May I finish?
Mr. PEROT: Okay. Most of the television time I bought during the campaign. That is a matter of public record. I have had two television shows since the campaign in the spring. They cost about $400,000 a piece. Those were network shows. Then we just did a NAFTA show, but we have to buy the time locally. I don't have the figures yet on what that cost me or I'd be glad to tell you.
KING: You're spending-
Mr. PEROT: I had to buy- no, I buy the television time because I don't want to take the members money for that. They understand that, they approve of that.
Vice Pres. GORE: Can I- it's not all his money, and we don't know because they do not-
Mr. PEROT: No, but television time- I just told you.
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, but- see, they do not release the records, but I accept your response because you have said that now-
Mr. PEROT: If it makes you feel better to see the checks and the bills from the network-
Vice Pres. GORE: It's okay for you interrupt but not me?
KING: Okay, all right-
Vice Pres. GORE: Now, hold on. You just said that you would-
KING: Let's go back to jobs.
Vice Pres. GORE: You just said that you would release the records, and I appreciate that. Now, this-
Mr. PEROT: It has nothing to do with what's going to happen to our country.
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, we need to know who's trying to influence it.
Mr. PEROT: I am paying for it, it's that simple.
KING: We got the answer.
Vice Pres. GORE: Now, on this- this Alliance business is connected to the jobs issue.
KING: Why is it important?
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, because right now we've got these barriers that we cannot surmount to sell into Mexico. We have been trying for years to get an even relationship so that their tariffs, their barriers, their taxes at the border will be eliminated. A lot of companies now have an incentive to leave the United States and locate down there. We heard about auto parts. Right now there is 13 percent tax at the border collected by Mexico on U.S. auto parts.
KING: All right, all right-
Vice Pres. GORE: Wait a minute, let me finish. This is important, Larry. And there is less than one half of one percent tariff the other way. That big growing market down there, in a few years they're going to buying a million cars a year. In order to sell into that market, these companies now have an incentive to pull up stakes and move down there. This business, which is not just his son's business, and there's nothing dishonorable about it at all. But here is the brochure for it, and here is the prospectus. And here are the two principle- what look like the principle investors there, Mr. Perot and the American eagle. And in the prospectus it says- okay, see it there. And in the prospectus it says that this is an ideal national distribution center for products coming out of Mexico. Plus, they have- he has lobbied the taxpayers to spend more than 200 million dollars in taxpayer funds in this project-
Mr. PEROT: Who is he?
Vice Pres. GORE: That takes you and your business.
Mr. PEROT: No, I'm not lobbying anybody.
Vice Pres. GORE: There's nothing illegal about it.
Mr. PEROT: I haven't done it. I don't- I haven't lobbied anybody.
Vice Pres. GORE: You've never hired a lobbyist?
Mr. PEROT: I- in my life? You mean on the airport?
Vice Pres. GORE: Both.
KING: No, on the airport.
Vice Pres. GORE: On the airport.
Mr. PEROT: I don't hire lobbyists. This is my son's project. I went to the airshow and haven't been out there- oh, probably been 18 months since I've been out there.
KING: What's the relevance?
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, the relevance is that if the free trade- if NAFTA is defeated then-
Vice Pres. GORE: Then this free trade zone that he has is still in business. If it's good enough for him, why isn't it good enough for the rest of the country?
KING: Do you say he's doing this for personal profit?
Vice Pres. GORE: I said before that I think he is in a position to benefit either way. And he was in favor of NAFTA, again, made speeches in favor of it, wrote in favor of it in your book before you started running for president. You started getting a response from people-
KING: Let's ask this then, what turned you against it if you were in favor of it?
Mr. PEROT: Well, conceptually I am for free trade. I am, if we ever get back to the subject, for a good agreement with Mexico. I am deeply concerned about the 85 million people who live in poverty and don't have any rights. I am deeply concerned about workers who when they go on strike U.S. companies call in goons, bring in the state police, shoot several workers, kill one, injure dozens, put the workers back to work and cut wages 45 percent. Those are things that are wrong. We can do this right. I am not in favor of a one political party country. The PRI runs the country. President Salinas will pick his successor. President Salinas went to the 36 families who own over 54 percent of the gross domestic product and asked them for 25 million dollars a piece. Fortunately for their families one of them leaked it to the New York Times and they didn't have to pay. That's Mexico. He will pick his successor not the Mexican people. Read the state department's annual report on human rights; a journalist being killed, people in the opposing political parties being put in prison and killed and tortured. This is not a free society, and yet for some reason the same people who are willing to put our troops at risk around the world to make sure people are protected, once we get to Mexico, ignore all of that.
KING: Are you not anyone that supports a fascist kind of state?
Mr. PEROT: I'm saying this is not- I'm concerned any agreement we do should give the Mexican people a decent life and over a period of time should give them some purchasing power. If I'm going to do business with somebody- let's just say if the U.S. is going to do business with another country, let's do business with a country whose people can buy things. Let's go-
KING: You don't think President Salinas is a progressive.
Mr. PEROT: President Salinas is almost out of office. I'm worried to death about who follows him.
Vice Pres. GORE: Can I respond on that?
Mr. PEROT: When you treat people the way they treat people, it's a matter of time until they loose power. And they've had it for a lot of years, and they keep it by force. But whether it's labor and management or countries and people, you oppress people long enough and you got to change, and that will happen.
Vice Pres. GORE: Let me respond to this because some of what he is saying here is true. Mexico is not yet a full democracy. They do not yet have full protection for human rights. They do not yet have the kind of living standard and labor standards and environmental protection standards that we would like them to see, but they've been making tremendous progress. And the progress has been associated with this new relationship to the United States. The decisions in Mexico will ultimately be made by the people in Mexico. The question is whether or not we will have the ability to influence what they and their government decide. The best way to eliminate our influence down there is to defeat NAFTA. The best way to preserve it is to enter into this bargain, continue the lowering of the barriers. We've got a commitment that they're going to raise their minimum wage with productivity. We've got an agreement for the first time in history to use trade sanctions to compel the enforcement of their environmental standards. As they begin to develop and locate better jobs farther south, we cut down on illegal immigration. Now, one of the reasons why all of the living former presidents and the other folks that I mentioned are supporting this is because this is the kind of choice that comes along only once every 40 or 50 years. This is a major choice for our country of historic proportions. Sometimes we do something right; the creation of NATO, the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson did the right thing there, the purchase of Alaska. These were all extremely controversial choices, but they made a difference for our country. This is such a choice- if we make- if we should happen to give into the politics of fear and make the wrong choice, the consequences would be catastrophic. If we make the right choice, we have a chance to encourage Mexico to continue on the path they have been travelling.
KING: Ross is not saying he wants the status quo. He wants a different treaty, am I correct?
Vice Pres. GORE: He wants to raise tariffs on Mexico.
Mr. PEROT: Just a second. Let's look at reality-
KING: - And then we'll take our first call. Go ahead.
Mr. PEROT: Let's look at reality instead of theory. There's a major U.S. chemical plant in Mexico that digs holes in the ground, dumps the chemical waste in those holes, bulldozes over those holes, and contaminates the water supply for the people in that area. A disproportionate number of the babies born in the shantytown around that plant are born without a brain. Now, I don't care if you're poor or rich. If your baby is born without a brain because a U.S. company is willing to take advantage of workers to that extent, that's wrong. Now, if there's any question about it, the xylene, the chemical xylene, in the water content in a ditch coming out of that plant is 53,000 times the amount permitted in the United States. This outfit, big Democratic group- backing the Democratic Party- here's the videotape that shows them digging the holes, putting the chemicals in the ground. It shows one child whose foot is horribly burned from chemicals, and it shows the classic worker abuse-
Vice Pres. GORE: - Can I respond? Can I respond?
Mr. PEROT: I pass it on to Vice President Gore-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Yeah, thank you-
Mr. PEROT: Because I know he cares, and I'm not- I'm not trying to play doctor with you.
Vice Pres. GORE: I agree with you on this, I agree with you on this.
Mr. PEROT: I know you care deeply about these things.
Vice Pres. GORE: Yeah, can I answer?
Mr. PEROT: I know you're a good man, but the laws are on the books, they're not enforced.
Vice Pres. GORE: Yeah-
KING: NAFTA would what? Change them? Not change them?
Mr. PEROT: Well, they have this little side agreement, but the facts are Mexico is so sensitive about its sovereignty they're not about to let us go down there and get into the middle of their- the Rio Grande River, all right folks, the Rio Grande River is the most polluted river in the Western Hemisphere-
Vice Pres. GORE: - Wait a minute. Can I respond to this first?
KING: Yeah, let him respond-
Mr. PEROT: The Tijuana River is the most- they've had to close it-
KING: But all of this is without NAFTA, right?
Vice Pres. GORE: Yeah, and let me respond to this, if I could, would you-
Mr. PEROT: - Larry, Larry, this is after years of U.S. companies going to Mexico, living free-
KING: - But they could do that without NAFTA.
Mr. PEROT: But we can stop that without NAFTA and we can stop that with a good NAFTA.
Vice Pres. GORE: How do you stop that without NAFTA?
Mr. PEROT: Just make- just cut that out. Pass a few simple laws on this, make it very, very clear
Vice Pres. GORE: Pass a few simple laws on Mexico?
Mr. PEROT: No.
Vice Pres. GORE: How do you stop it without NAFTA?
Mr. PEROT: Give me your whole mind.
Vice Pres. GORE: Yeah, I'm listening. I haven't heard the answer, but go ahead.
Mr. PEROT: That's because you haven't quit talking.
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, I'm listening. How do you stop it without NAFTA?
Mr. PEROT: OK, are you going to listen? Work on it. Now, very simple - just tell every company south of the border if they operate that way they cannot ship their goods into the U.S. at any price period, and they will become choir boys overnight. See, Mexico is a country that can't buy anything. Japan, everybody else in the world is going to flood into Mexico if NAFTA is passed so that they can get cheap labor-
KING: OK, I gotta get a break in and-
Vice Pres. GORE: - When we come back I want to respond to this.
KING: The vice president will respond and then we'll go to your phone calls on Larry King Live. We'll be right back.
Vice. Pres. GORE: [off-mike] Are you going to give me a chance to respond to this?
KING: OK- [on-mike] OK, if we keep responding and responding, we're never going to get some calls, but I'll have the vice president respond on the Stefan [sp?] Chemical, and then quickly to calls. Quick.
Vice Pres. GORE: Oh, thank you. Well, if we defeat NAFTA, we'll lose all leverage over the enforcement of Mexico's environmental laws.
KING: Ross says we just pass a law to-
Vice Pres. GORE: That wouldn't effect Mexican companies or the investments from other countries. But the problem has been not so much their laws, but the enforcement of their laws. We can probably can agree on that. This side agreement that we negotiated gives us the ability to use trade sanctions to compel the enforcement of their environmental laws.
KING: Let me get some calls in-
Vice Pres. GORE: - A major step forward-
KING: - and by the way, I must tell our audience that we're keeping kind of score, so we're fair. We always try to be fair, and each party has had equal time right to this minute in talking. We go to Washington, D.C., as we being phone calls. Hello?
WASHINGTON, D.C., CALLER: Hello. My question is for Mr. Perot.
WASHINGTON, D.C., CALLER: How can the United States expect to compete on a long-term basis in an increasingly interdependent economic world, while Europe and the Pac Rim nations unite through their own respective trade alignments?
Mr. PEROT: Very simple - we've got the most productive workforce in the world. We're the biggest buyer of goods and services in the world. We're the market everybody wants to sell to. Our problem is we do the world's dumbest trade agreements. You go back to the agreements we've done all over the world, you'd be amazed that adults did them. We're about to do another one, but the American people have stopped it and it's dead in the House of Representatives. It's time we draw a line in the sand, and we've done it.
Now, here's the key - you want to buy and sell with people who have money. You want to trade with partners who have money, but then if you make a one-sided deal with Japan, they get all the benefits, we get all the problems. Then, you come to Mexico. It's an emerging nation. You want to help it. You put in this tariff that as they raise the standard of living of their people, the tariff goes away.If anybody wants to do things like destroy people's life by dumping chemicals and all that and polluting the Rio Grande River and destroying the Tijuana River and the beaches in San Diego - and the life in San Diego pretty soon - you just say you can't ship your good to the U.S.
KING: - Ross, his question was-
Mr. PEROT: - You can help Mexico and do it-
KING: - Ross-
Mr. PEROT: - No - You can't compete- go put your primary effort with people who have money to spend. Then, because we want to help emerging nations, help nations like Mexico. But you're primary effort has to be- and believe me, you say, does everybody want to do business with us? More than anything else in the world, because we buy a lot.
Mr. PEROT: Please try to limit answers, so we can get our calls in.
Vice. Pres. GORE: I'd like to respond to that quickly. Could I?
Vice. Pres. GORE: Let me give you a quick example. Mattel just announced that if NAFTA is passed, it will move a plastics factory from Asia to Mexico. Instead of getting the plastic from China, it will get the plastic from the United States. With NAFTA, we will enlarge what is already the largest consumer market in the world with the addition of a country that buys 70 percent of all of its foreign products from the United States of America. It will position us to compete effectively with the rest of the world. That's why a lot of these other countries are a little nervous about it.
One of the trade officials in Japan described this as 'sneaky protectionism' and raised a lot of questions about it. It will benefit us in our trading relationship with Asia and Europe, and we're right now in the middle of the negotiations with the GATT - that's the larger world trade agreement. If we pass NAFTA, we will be able to use the leverage to drop the barriers against our products in other countries.
KING: Fairview Heights, Ill., hello?
ILLINOIS CALLER: Hello, Larry. Vice President Gore, I understand the United States will spend $7 billion to clean up the pollution left by multi-national companies in Mexico, much of it polluting our rivers. I would like to know why we're going to spend that money, and couldn't be better spent here at home?
Vice. Pres. GORE: Well, Mexico will join in, so will the Inter-American Bank, and so will the polluters who have caused the problem. And we should clean up that pollution that Mr. Perot was talking about so eloquently earlier whether we have NAFTA or not. With NAFTA, we will have the cooperation of Mexico and other countries in this hemisphere in doing that.
KING: Aren't you-
Mr. PEROT: - May I cut in briefly?
KING: Yeah, sorry.
Mr. PEROT: It will cost us several billion dollars in tariff losses. It will cost us at least $15 billion and probably more to build infrastructure. And we will have a $20-40 billion bill on pollution alone. Now, guess who's going to pay that? All you hard-working taxpayers that still have jobs, go look in the mirror and ask yourselves why the government's policies have caused four out of five of you to have to lower your standard of living. Ask yourselves why your government sent two million jobs to Asia alone, manufacturing jobs, in the 1980s. [To Vice Pres. Gore] Now, you agree with that number?
Vice. Pres. GORE: All of that happened before NAFTA-
Mr. PEROT: - You agree with two million, or not?
Vice. Pres. GORE: - and before we took office.
Mr. PEROT: - That's not the point. Is it a good number?
Vice. Pres. GORE: Oh, we've lost a lot of jobs to lousy trade deals in the past because they weren't fair, they weren't fair.
Mr. PEROT: Well, we agree that we've made-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Let me finish, now-
Mr. PEROT: - Excuse me, excuse me.
Vice. Pres. GORE: Thank you very much, I'll let you finish. I like that line. I appreciate that. The fact is that we have the opportunity with NAFTA to stop this kind of stuff. All of the problems that Mr. Perot talks about will be made worse if NAFTA is defeated. We have an opportunity to make all of them better if we pass NAFTA.
Listen, Larry - the whole world is poised, waiting for America's response to Mexico's decision to say 'yes.' We have knocked on their door for 20 years trying to get them to stop being protectionist-
KING: - Are you saying this embarrasses us if we-
Vice. Pres. GORE: - Well, of course it does, but it's far more important than just embarrassment. It diminishes our ability, it would diminish our ability to open other markets overseas. The GATT round would probably not be completed if NAFTA were defeated.
KING: All right, I've got an exact break here. We'll come right back, half hour to go. We'll take your phone calls. Don't go away.
LARRY KING, Anchor: We're back with the NAFTA debate on Larry King Live and back to your phone calls for Vice President Al Gore and Ross Perot. Nanamo [sp], British Columbia. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. It's Nanimo [sp]. I'd like to know what Mr. Perot and Mr. Gore have both learned from the previous free trade agreement between Canada and the U.S.
KING: Both learned? Ross?
ROSS PEROT: Well, just by watchin' it. First thing, thousands of people joined United We Stand America out of Canada. I couldn't figure out why so I checked - they were mad at NAFTA. Then I watched the election - the Conservative Party had 155 seats and the prime minister. There's a message here for both political parties in the United States. After the dust cleared, they had two seats in parliament, no prime minister. The reason-
Mr. PEROT: Reason - NAFTA. Why? Huge numbers of manufacturing jobs left Canada, came into the United States because of a 15 percent wage differential. We pay our workers less than Canada. Now, when you've got a seven-to-one wage differential between the United States and Mexico, you will hear the giant sucking sound-
Al GORE, Vice President of the United States: Now, wait-
Mr. PEROT: -there's a political lesson, there's a business lesson-
KING: -a quick- I'm going to ask you to limit the answers so we can move on.
Vice Pres. GORE: But this is an important question and it's important to realize that only one of the parties in that election campaigned against the basic NAFTA treaty - that was the socialists. They lost seats. They only got nine seats out of 258 and now the person who won has been talking with the- President Clinton. This has been a good deal for both Canada and the United States. Both have gained jobs; both have gained trade flows; both have become more competitive in the world marketplace as a result.
Mr. PEROT: And there is a tooth fairy and there is an Easter Bunny.
KING: Bethesda, Maryland. Hello.
CALLER: Good evening, Larry. I'd like to ask the vice president specifically to answer, in terms of a time limit, how long - how many years? Five, eight, 10 years will it be before we see these new jobs in America that are supposed to be out there?
KING: Job swing, how long?
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, we're already seeing a great many new jobs. We have seen 400,000 new jobs just in the last five years because of Mexico's unilateral decision to lower the barriers to U.S. products. We'll see 200,000 jobs, it is estimated, over the next several years-
KING: But there'll be a dip first, right?
Vice Pres. GORE: -in the wake of NAFTA. No, no, no. We think- absolutely not.
KING: Unions are wrong?
Vice Pres. GORE: Oh yes, I think they're wrong.
KING: The trade unions are wrong about fearing a dip?
Vice Pres. GORE: Absolutely. Now, there is always, in our economy, a churning of the economy-
KING: Five hundred thousand jobs-
Vice Pres. GORE: -with or without NAFTA, that is the case, but the net change is positive with NAFTA. Now, there are all kinds of estimates - virtually all of them show job gains, as I've said before. Some of them show very large job gains, but the importance of NAFTA goes beyond that because again, it gives us the ability to open up markets in the rest of the world because other countries- let me give you a specific example to illustrate this. Computers in the United States will-
KING: A business he knows-
Vice Pres. GORE: -we sell into Mexico- they have a 20 percent tariff on our computers. After NAFTA, they will have a zero percent tariff on our computers, but the 20 percent will still apply to Asia and to Europe, so with the transportation advantage and a 20 percent price advantage, who are they going to buy their computers from? They're going to buy lots of them from us. Now, that gives us an advantage and when you sell more products, you make more products. When you make more products, you hire more people.
Mr. PEROT: Quickly. If you believe that, I've got a lot of stuff in the attic I can sell you. Second, if this is all true, why is corporate America downsizing? If this is all true, why do we have the largest number of college graduates this year unable to find jobs since at any time in the '40s? If this is all true, why is that everywhere I go in a hotel, I've got a college graduate comin' up to the room, bringin' food, carrying bags, so on and so forth, waiting till they get their job? If this is all true, why isn't our economy booming? You see, it just doesn't fit, folks. Just go-
Vice Pres. GORE: -I'd like to answer-
Mr. PEROT: -look at reality.
Vice Pres. GORE: I'd like to answer the question if I could.
Mr. PEROT: We-
Vice Pres. GORE: -no, because, see while we have a $5.6 billion trade surplus with Mexico, we have a $49 billion deficit with Japan, a $19 billion deficit with China, a $9 billion deficit with Taiwan - those are trade problems. Mexico is a trade opportunity. If we use the opportunity to pry open the markets in the rest of the world, we'll change this. All of the problems that he talks about? That's what we want to change. We don't accept the status quo. We want to fight for working men and women and NAFTA is part of it.
KING: Zaghreb, Croatia, hello.
CALLER: Good evening. My question is this. Mr. Perot, since you obviously have many, many criticisms about the NAFTA agreement, can you give us specific answers as to an alternative to it? If you don't like it, tell us what, really, we should be doing?
KING: Can you over-view a treaty you would sign?
Mr. PEROT: Yes, I will do it again. First, we've got to have a clear understanding with Mexico that we can only do business with a country that gives its people a decent standard of living and respects human rights. Because we are all humans - every human life is precious.
KING: -and that would be the first part of it?
Mr. PEROT: -every human life is precious. If you don't treat your workers fairly and if you don't treat your people fairly, history teaches us that that produces stress that will take maybe a century to cure. It's in Mexico's interest to do that. Then, their workers will come up the economic scale; we'll put in a social tariff that drops as they bring their workers' pay and benefits up. If we pass NAFTA and we pass health care and your competitor goes to Mexico, you will either have to go to Mexico or go out of business. I can give you a whole list of things like that.
KING: You would have a tariff that swings?
Mr. PEROT: The way we're set now. No, it's a social tariff - as they bring their people up, we drop the tariff. When it's head-to-head competition and their people have equal pay and benefits as ours-
KING: What's wrong with that?
Mr. PEROT: -there is no tariff and we've brains and wits and off we go. That's good for Mexico and it protects our people.
KING: Why is that bad?
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, it- it kind of goes back to the Smoot-Hawley idea-
Mr. PEROT: -oh, come on-
Vice Pres. GORE: -seriously, for this reason- for this reason. The idea that we can isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and only do business with 'perfect' countries that do everything the way we want them to do is pretty unrealistic. His proposal, as I understand it, is to raise tariffs and call it a social tariff and use that to keep products out from any country that doesn't meet our standards in all things.
Mr. PEROT: -I said Mexico-
Vice Pres. GORE: -now, let me finish, please. Now, you take-
Mr. PEROT: -tiny little market-
Vice Pres. GORE: -that kind of approach to Mexico and you defeat NAFTA, you've lost the partnership we've been building with Mexico for a generation and more. But beyond that, here's the central point. We have to realize that we, unilaterally, cannot change the entire world. We can't force every country in the world that we want to trade with to meet our standards in everything that we would like to see them meet.
Now, the fundamental- the guts of this whole thing is the reason why some people listen to what he's saying is that they think if a country has wages lower than we have, then it's fundamentally unfair to trade with them even when it's totally even in all other respects. If that were the case - if low wages were the determinant of where you locate businesses, then Haiti would be an economic powerhouse; Bangladesh would be a powerhouse. We have problems - trade problems - with countries that have wages higher than we have, like Germany and they have fewer barriers than we do and higher wages because, Larry, the secret is, productivity - our working men and women are the most productive of any nation on the face of the Earth. You give us the opportunity to sell our products unimpeded, without these trade barriers and- that we've been having to deal with, into these other countries - we'll knock the socks off the workers of any other country in this world.
KING: Why doesn't that make sense to you?
Mr. PEROT: Well, it wouldn't make sense to most people over six years old.
Mr. PEROT: If I have to explain it to the audience, they'd probably- I don't think I will. Bangladesh and Haiti? They all got that. Well, I won't waste your time on that one. You understand that that-
Vice Pres. GORE: No, but they have the lowest wages.
Mr. PEROT: That's not the point. Everybody out there understands why Bangladesh and Haiti are not like Mexico, so I won't waste my time. Secondly-
Vice Pres. GORE: -but tell me, I mean, humor me if you would and-
Mr. PEROT: -no, I won't. I don't think I can. Now, next thing. It's pretty simple stuff. We've been out-traded by everybody. All we've got to do is explain very nicely to Mexico that they out-traded us on this deal. We've got to make a fair deal with them. They'll huff and puff for a few days. They'll be back. We'll make a good deal. For a very simple reason. They need us. We don't need them. Now then, we go to Japan - send a horse trader over to Japan. Send somebody that knows how to negotiate and just explain to them that they was the most one-sided trade deals in the world. We've got to reopen 'em; we've got to make 'em fair and they'd say 'What do you mean?' I say 'We'll just take the same deal we gave you.' They would look at you like 'Good gracious sakes alive! You mean, you want the same deal we've had for years?' That's fair. Then you start to negotiate and say, well, a fall-back position - 'We'll just take the deals that ya'll made with Europe because they're a whole lot better than the ones you made with the U.S.'
You know what the problem is folks? It's foreign lobbyists- are wreckin' this whole thing. Right here, Time magazine just says it all - it says 'In spite of Clinton's protests, the influence-peddling machine in Washington is back in high gear.' The headline, Time magazine - 'A Lobbyist's Paradise.'
Vice Pres. GORE: I'd like to respond to that.
Mr. PEROT: We are being sold out by foreign lobbyists. We've got 33 of them working on this in the biggest lobbying effort in the history of our country to ram NAFTA down your throat.
KING: Allright, let him respond.
Vice Pres. GORE: I'd like to respond.
Mr. PEROT: The good news is it ain't working.
KING: OK, Ross.
Mr. PEROT: I'll turn it over to the others.
Vice Pres. GORE: OK, thank you.
KING: And we've got another call.
Vice Pres. GORE: One of President Clinton's first acts in office was to put limits on the lobbyists and new ethics laws, and we're working for lobby law reform right now. But, you know, we had a little conversation about this earlier, but every dollar that's been spent for NAFTA has been publicly disclosed. We don't know yet-
KING: He says-
Vice Pres. GORE: Tomorrow- perhaps tomorrow we'll see, but the reason why, and I say this respectfully, because I served in the Congress and I don't know of any single individual who lobbied the Congress more than you did, or people in your behalf did, to get tax breaks for your companies. And it's legal.
Mr. PEROT: You're lying. You're lying now.
Vice Pres. GORE: You didn't lobby the Ways and Means Committee for tax breaks for yourself and your companies?
Mr. PEROT: What do you have in mind? What are you talking about?
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, it's been written about extensively and again, there's nothing illegal about it.
Mr. PEROT: Well that's not the point. I mean, what are you talking about?
Vice Pres. GORE: Lobbying the Congress. You know a lot about it.
Mr. PEROT: I mean, spell it out, spell it out.
Vice Pres. GORE: You didn't lobby the Ways and Means Committee. You didn't have people lobbying the Ways and Means Committee for tax breaks?
Mr. PEROT: What are you talking about?
Vice Pres. GORE: In the 1970's.
Mr. PEROT: Well, keep going.
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, did you or did you did you not? I mean, it's not-
Mr. PEROT: Well, you're so general I can't pin it down. I mean, 1970- [crosstalk]
Vice Pres. GORE: I'm not charging anything illegal. It's this blunderbust attack on all lobbyists.
Mr. PEROT: Wait just a minute. Wait just a minute. Let's talk about the lobbying reforms - that's the biggest sham in history. All you had to do was take a pledge. The pledge is like a pledge to quit drinking. We don't have lobbying reform under Clinton. We will get it, but we don't have it yet. And this stuff they've come up with is nothing, and if you look at who's running all these economic negotiations, it's a who's who of former foreign lobbyists now in the Clinton administration.
KING: McLean, Virginia, hello.
CALLER: Sir, this is for Mr. Perot.
KING: Yeah, go ahead.
CALLER: Sir, over the past five years, and I think you probably know this, the U.S. has nearly tripled its electronics exports to Mexico, worth about $6 billion. Now that's produced a lot of high-tech, good-paying jobs in America. Now if Congress does the right thing and passes NAFTA and removes the tariffs on these products, how can you believe that this wouldn't increase our exports, create more jobs, create more exports for America?
Mr. PEROT: Well I think you're seeing, counted in that figure, every piece of electronics that goes to Mexico, does a turn-around in an assembly plant, and comes back to the United States. I am certain you're seeing all the radios that go down and get put in cars that come back to United States. If we strip it down to the real electric products that the Mexican people buy that stay in Mexico, it would be a fraction of that sum.
Vice Pres. GORE: Did you see the Wal-Mart that opened in Mexico City on the news?
KING: Largest one in the-
Vice Pres. GORE: Largest one in the world, if I understand it. They have 72 cash registers ringing constantly with people in that- in Mexico taking American products out of that store. We have this image of them being so poor that they can't possibly buy any electronic equipment or anything else that we make. They are poorer than we are. But you know what? They spend more per person on American products than any other country except. [crosstalk] Let me finish, let me finish, because this is very important. Japan, if you take everything that Japan buys, only 2 percent of it comes from the United States. If you take everything that Mexico buys, it's 800 percent larger, and if you take what they buy from foreign countries, 70 percent of everything they buy from other countries come from us. They prefer American products. If we lower those trade barriers and get rid of them altogether, we will have an export surge into Mexico and we'll have a partnership with Mexico that will help us remove the trade barriers in the rest of the world.
KING: Fairfax, Virginia, hello. I should bring it down. Fairfax, Virginia, with Vice President Al Gore and Ross Perot, hello.
CALLER: Companies can come into Mexico by, you know, thousands and set up manufacturing of products using the cheap Mexican labor, and I think that that is the biggest threat to the loss of U.S. jobs. Is this correct?
Vice Pres. GORE: No, it's not correct, because American workers are more than five times more productive than their counterparts in Mexico because they have better tools, they have better training, they have a better infrastructure. There are lots and lots of companies that moved down to Mexico and decided that they would rather move back to the United States. I've got a whole long list of them. General Motors is one of them, that moved down while Mr. Perot was on the board. He may have voted against that, but they have- I don't know, but they now moved, started moving jobs back from Mexico, back to the United States. Let me give you another example. Norm Cohen [sp?] in Charlotte, North Carolina, is in the textile business. 15 years ago, he tried to sell his products in Mexico - he had the price, he had the quality, he couldn't sell. Why not? He went in and investigated. His Mexican counterparts got a little mail-out from the Mexican government every month with a listing of all the foreign companies, including American companies, that wanted to sell in competition into Mexico. They were given an opportunity to put an 'X' beside the name of any company they didn't want to compete with. He got some investors and opened up a company in Mexico. Now NAFTA not only eliminates the taxes at the border, it eliminates practices like that 'x marks the spot,' and if NAFTA passes, Norm Cohen has plans right now to shut that factory in Mexico down and move 150 jobs back to Charlotte, North Carolina.
KING: Want to respond?
Mr. PEROT: If I have to.
KING: Don't have to.
Mr. PEROT: First off, the whole textile thing is a joke. Talk to anybody in the textile business and they will tell you if their competitors go to Mexico, they will have to go to Mexico. They will also tell that the Mexicans have spent a fortune building textile plants and are building them now in Cuba, where labor is next to nothing. Next, the GM bringing back jobs into this country is a sham used in the union negotiation. Next, the Mexican- the U.S. worker is five times more productive than the Mexican worker - big joke of the century. The Mexican worker is a good worker, he is an industrious worker. He quickly gets up to 70 percent as productive, and after three to five years, is 90 percent as productive, and only makes 1/7 as much. You cannot compete with that in the good ol' USA, particularly with our benefits, retirement, and so on and so forth. It's just that simple. It's a tilted deck.
KING: Mexico City, hello.
Vice Pres. GORE: It's not just that simple.
CALLER: Hi. The subject has come up about the possibility of Japanese taking over if NAFTA doesn't go through. I'm American; I've been living in Mexico City for many years. There are thousands of Japanese here. They are waiting. They are lurking. What are you people doing? Why [call cuts off]
Vice Pres. GORE: Let me answer that.
KING: What's the finish of it, ma'am? All right, I didn't hear the end of it.
Vice Pres. GORE: Yeah, she said what are you doing, why don't you wake up.
Mr. PEROT: Does he get to answer first every time?
KING: I think the question was for him
Vice Pres. GORE: You go ahead and answer.
Mr. PEROT: No, you go ahead.
Vice Pres. GORE: I'd like to answer it, but you go first.
Mr. PEROT: Let him go ahead, he can have it. I know- as I long as I get a brief follow up.
KING: Well, I think the question was for you.
Mr. PEROT: It will only take a minute to kill this snake, go ahead.
KING: Go ahead, kill it.
Vice Pres. GORE: You're talking about the question, not me, right?
Mr. PEROT: No, the question. Absolutely. Excuse me.
KING: Go ahead, it's for you.
Mr. PEROT: It's just this basic. There's a constant in the Clinton administration. Any time they get cornered, they go into what I call 'the sky is falling routine' - the presidency is at stake, the Japanese are coming.
KING: No, the question was- she says there are Japanese-
Mr. PEROT: -next thing we'll have is 'The British are coming.' You know, the ghosts are coming. Look, the Japanese cannot just wander into Mexico, do anything they want to do, dump across our border unless we're stupid enough to let them. Now, if our foreign lobbyists stay wired in the way they are now, we'll probably say 'Ooh, this is wonderful.' I can tell you about Japanese deals that have been cut through out foreign lobbyists. I can tell you a deal that's buried in this agreement that gives a $17 million benefit to Honda - it's buried. I can show it to you in print. It's there big time. I can show you a deal-
KING: Benefits a single company?
Mr. PEROT: -you bet. I can show you a deal on Tennessee whiskey that'll make you just wonder what the heck is going on. They sky is not falling, the Japanese are our friends-
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, let me respond-
Mr. PEROT: -they're not a threat.
KING: OK. All right.
Vice Pres. GORE: Let me respond. Both automobile manufacturers, including Honda in Marysville, Ohio, Nissan in Tennessee, Saturn in Tennessee, all of the companies in Detroit - they benefit because that Mexican tariff is brought down to zero. Every other American from Tennessee - whiskey benefits - every American business potentially benefits if they want to sell in Mexico-
Mr. PEROT: And they-
Vice Pres. GORE: Hold on, hold on, because I want to respond to her question. This is extremely important. President Salinas has a trade mission to Japan the month after the vote on NAFTA. If we don't take this deal, you can bet that Japan will try to take this deal. They'll be in there in a New York minute. Europe will try to get this deal. They are concerned about us taking this deal. Listen, we- Larry, we ought to thank our lucky stars that the Mexican people have had the vision and courage to strike out on the American path toward the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, toward democracy, toward free markets, and now they just want to know 'Can we take 'yes' for an answer?'
KING: In the interest of time, Ross, is there- are there things about this treaty you like?
Mr. PEROT: Oh, sure, but here's the Honda deal-
KING: -are there any- is there anything about it-
Mr. PEROT: Here it is, folks, as they say - it's in the book. There's the Honda deal. Here is the Tennessee whiskey deal.
KING: Al, is there anything about the deal you don't like?
Mr. PEROT: -now, stay with me one second. Here is the deal on Tennessee whiskey. Only in the state of Tennessee, authorized to produce only in the state of Tennessee-
Vice Pres. GORE: No-
Mr. PEROT: -this is foreign lobbying big-time. This is what's wrong with our country. This is what you and I will clear up through government reform.
KING: That's protection of a brand name. I mean, that's protection of a brand name. One of the things about this treaty is it protects intellectual property.
Mr. PEROT: Why just that brand name?
Vice Pres. GORE: Well, it's not just that brand name. If you'll look at the line above it, it says 'Bourbon Whiskey.' That doesn't have- that's not a brand name.
Mr. PEROT: Stay with me. Tennessee whiskey-
Vice Pres. GORE: -and Tennessee whiskey-
Mr. PEROT: -authorized to produce only in the state of Tennessee-
Vice Pres. GORE: No, but that refers to the other one. It recognizes- it deals with all bourbon-
KING: Bourbon is only from Kentucky, right?
Mr. PEROT: -caught in the middle of the act, folks. No place to run, no place to hide.
KING: I think Bourbon is only-
Vice Pres. GORE: It's two different brand names.
KING: Is there anything about-
Vice Pres. GORE: Excuse me. Just so you're clear about that. Those are brand names and one of the things we've been trying to get in our trade dealings with other countries is protection for what's called intellectual property. And it's a good thing, too, because Mexicans now prefer U.S. brand name products. That's why they're going in and out of that Walmart so fast.
KING: All right, there's a six-month out if it's turned down, right?
Vice Pres. GORE: Yeah, that-
KING: -let me, let me-
Vice Pres. GORE: -now, let's talk about that for a minute. If we don't- if I'm wrong and he's right, then you give six months notice and you're out of it.
KING: Ross, what's wrong with that?
Mr. PEROT: Now, here's the way we get out of it. If the House of Representatives lets this go through, the whole House of Representatives is running in 1994 and a third of the Senate, we've got a little song we sing. 'We'll remember in November' when we step into that little booth. If we have to, we the people, the owners of this country, we'll clean this mess up in Washington in '94.
KING: Are you saying you will-
Mr. PEROT: -and. And. We'll make sure that we put the six-month tail on this thing in 1995 and if you think these guys will, you believe in the tooth fairy.
Vice Pres. GORE: -well-
KING: Ross, are you saying that you're going to work against congressmen who vote for it?
Mr. PEROT: I'm not- our people are really angry about this. Working people all across the United States are extremely angry. There is no way to stop 'em. They are not going to tolerate having their jobs continued to be shipped all over the world-
Vice Pres. GORE: I'd like to say something about that.
Mr. PEROT: -we've got to have a climate in this country where we can create jobs in the good old U.S.A.-
KING: OK- [blocked]
Mr. PEROT: -that is one thing that the president and vice president should do for us and they're not.
Vice Pres. GORE: Excuse me. I'd like to say something about that. Because that's a direct political threat against anybody who votes for this. This is a choice between the politics of fear and the politics of hope. It's a choice between the past and the future. It's a choice between pessimism and optimism. It's a choice between the status quo - leave things as they are - enact new tariffs on Mexico and I don't know who else, or move forward into the future with confidence. We're not scared. We're not a nation of quitters. We're not a nation that is afraid to compete in the world marketplace and when we face a choice as important as this one, it is extremely important that we make the right decision. This is a fork in the road. The whole world is watching.
KING: What's going to happen in eight days?
Mr. PEROT: I love the way these guys turn around on a dime. They've been out making speeches that everybody ought to get a depression check every time they get their eyes checked or their glasses checked and the president's made a stream of speeches telling us how insecure we are. Now, suddenly, they figure out that we are a strong, proud people and-
Vice Pres. GORE: We are-
Mr. PEROT: -and we are not going to let this trade agreement go through and create further damage to this great country. We- let me make sure I say this before we go off the air tonight. I'll give you one reason that will just stick- why we can't continue to do these agreements.
KING: Thirty seconds for each.
Mr. PEROT: If we keep shifting our manufacturing jobs across the border and around the world and deindustrializing our country, we will not be able to defend this great country and that is a risk we will never take.
Vice Pres. GORE: He started off as head of United We Stand. I'm afraid he's going to end up as head of Divided We Fall. Everything that he is worried about will get worse if NAFTA is defeated. We want jobs for America's working men and women. We want to get rid of the barriers that have prevented us from selling what we make in other countries. This is an historic opportunity to do that.
KING: Thank you both for this historic evening. The vote in Congress
is eight days away. You'll be hearing lots more about it. Thanks to Ross
Perot and Vice President Al Gore. For everyone here at Larry King
Live and for the superb staff that put this all together, the best in the
business. Thanks for joining us and good night.
The preceding text has been professionally transcribed. However, although the text has been checked against an audio track, in order to meet rigid distribution and transmission deadlines, it has not yet been proofread against videotape.
LOAD-DATE: November 10, 1993