Introduction: George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot (10/19/1992): US Presidential Election Debates (03:11)
Peter Jennings introduces the program with comments about the campaign thus far. Moderator Jim Lehrer explains the format of the debate and introduces Democratic nominee governor Bill Clinton, Republican nominee President George Bush and Independent Candidate Ross Perot.
The Clinton Plan (05:26)
Lehrer expresses the general public's disbelief that Clinton can turn the economy around while only taxing the very wealthy. Clinton explains that other countries are successful with an invest and grow plan like he will implement. Bush thinks the answer is not to add taxes but to control mandatory spending. Perot says that neither Clinton's or Bush's plans will reduce the deficit in four years, but his plan will balance the budget in six years.
The Clinton Plan: Shortcomings (08:15)
Both Bush and Perot have said that the numbers in Clinton's plan do not add up. Bush and Clinton disagree about Bush's record on tax laws and the success of Arkansas with Clinton as governor. Perot says that Arkansas is irrelevant because it is so small. Bush explains that he would like to see a nationwide balanced budget amendment.
Bush Criticism: Reactive (05:37)
Bush has been criticized for only responding once an issue has reached a crisis level. Bush cites the ADA and his previous speeches as evidence that he is against discrimination. He disagrees that he only responds when an issue becomes a crisis. Perot declines to critique his opponents. Clinton points out that Bush did not create a new economic program until 1300 days into his presidency. Bush highlights changes he has made during his presidency.
Perot: Staying Power (03:54)
Lehrer expresses concern that, based on previous actions, Perot will pack up and quit when the going gets tough. Perot believes the nation is at a strong point where it needs to face change now or fall apart. He cites examples of his ability to stay the course.
Factory Jobs and CAFE Standards (03:59)
Declining to criticize Perot, Clinton instead uses his time to highlight the importance of government support to grow manufacturing jobs and stimulate the economy. Bush says that Clinton's desire to raise fuel efficiency standards will break the auto industry and put more workers out of employment.
North American Free Trade Agreement (07:24)
Perot opposes NAFTA and says it will cause US jobs to go to Mexico. Bush says that free trade will expand the job base. Clinton supports free trade if it also fair trade that negotiates the standards for workers in other countries.
Foreign Lobbyists (06:42)
Perot asserts that America has sold out to foreign lobbyists and there is no free trade because of this. Bush says that lobbying is the American way and is not an inherently corrupt system. Clinton does believe that there should be some restrictions imposed on lobbyists.
Clinton's Draft Dodging (03:45)
Lehrer introduces the panel of journalists who will ask questions: Susan Rook of CNN, Gene Gibbons of Reuters and Helen Thomas of United Press Intl. Thomas asks Clinton about his Vietnam draft avoidance. Clinton explains that he was young and very opposed to the war. He lists other presidents who had no military experience or were opposed to war. Bush says his problem with Clinton is his inconsistency, not his lack of military experience. Perot strongly supports the military and feels the topic is irrelevant.
Bush's 1990 Budget Deal with Congress (04:28)
Bush has said that his tax increase was a mistake. Gibbons asks what alternative plan Bush would have chosen. Bush says none of the alternatives were acceptable either, and that he thought the tax increase would help the American people more than it did. Perot outlines the actions that he says are a trick on the American people and a lack of accountability in the US government. Clinton says Bush's mistake was making the campaign promise in the first place when the deficit was so large and there was no plan in place to address the economic issues.
Reaching Consensus (04:18)
Rook asks Perot how he plans to get consensus to take action. Perot plans to eliminate the current system of lobbyists and employ the use of town halls so the American people can be heard. Clinton highlights his twelve-year career of balancing a budget and passing lobbyist restriction legislation. Bush uses the example of Saddam Hussein to demonstrate that consensus is not always possible.
Women and Ethnic Minorities (06:08)
Rook asks the candidates to explain when their inner circle of advisors will include women and/or ethnic minorities. Bush names several people that meet that description that are on his cabinet. Perot had a woman CEO before many other companies and his family is mostly women. Perot and Bush debate the circumstances surrounding written instructions for Ambassador Glaspie to negotiate with Saddam Hussein. Clinton gives examples of women and ethnic minorities that worked with him while he was governor.
Saddam Hussein (05:53)
Thomas asks Perot if he has proof for the accusations he made about interactions with Saddam Hussein. She also asks if he often investigates people like the rumors say. Perot says he does not investigate people but that the Republican party investigated every aspect of his life and he finds it appalling. Perot then outlines why he thinks there is a cover-up going on surrounding Saddam Hussein and the border dispute. Clinton explains that Bush's mistake was continuing to try to improve relations with the tyrant Hussein. Bush explains that they did try to work with Hussein until he crossed a line and then they worked together to defeat him.
Banking Crisis (04:25)
Gibbons asks Clinton if there is a commercial bank crisis on the horizon and how much it will cost to clean it up. Clinton says the US banking system is sound though there are a few weak banks. He believes the banking industry should cover it's own debts, not the taxpayers. Bush says the banks are sound and he proposes some banking reform legislation. Perot cites the 1984 election where banking problems were buried until right after the election and hopes it is not happening again.
Perot's Priorities (04:53)
Gibbons asks Perot what he really wants to fix other than the deficit. Perot would like to reform the government so that the people have control rather than the special interest committees. Clinton is passionate about economic growth and creating jobs. To reform the government, Bush would reduce spending and apply term limits to Congress.
Clinton's Tax Plan (05:16)
Rook asks Clinton to commit to the minimum income level that will have increased taxes. Clinton plans to increase taxes for families over $200,000 and foreign corporations only. Bush says Clinton would have to tax everyone down to $36,600 to make the revenue he projects and that interest rates will rise. Bush says Arkansas is the lowest of the low and Clinton defends his state. Perot says neither of their plans will work.
Bush's Poll Numbers (05:07)
Thomas asks Bush why he dropped in the polls so drastically. Bush thinks his numbers have dropped because of economic doldrums and he outlines the reasons why he thinks he will win. Perot outlines several topics that the other parties are ignoring or haven't answered sufficiently. Clinton explains why he thinks Bush will not be re-elected.
Closing Statement: Clinton (02:17)
Clinton thanks his opponents for the discussions and promises to create positive change in America while bringing the people together.
Closing Statement: Bush (01:50)
Bush outlines why his plan is the best one for economic growth. He believes that international affairs are important as well as handling a crisis.
Closing Statement: Perot (03:27)
Perot thanks the people who got him onto the ballot as an independent candidate. He believes his record for action and money management speaks for itself and can help America through the current crisis.
Debate Follow Up (03:30)
Jim Wooten, Jeff Greenfield and Cokie Roberts highlight some of the interesting topics from the debate.
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