PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 16, 1996
JIM LEHRER: The next question is for President Clinton. Yes, sir?
BOB GOLDFARB: I'm Bob Goldfarb. I'm a travel agent. And can you please explain your policy on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would have prohibited discrimination, would have prohibited people from being fired from their jobs simply for being gay or lesbian?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm for it. That's my policy. I'm for it. I believe that any law-abiding tax-paying citizen who shows up in the morning and doesn't break the law and doesn't interfere with his or her neighbors ought to have the ability to work in our country and shouldn't be subject to unfair discrimination. I'm for it. Now, I have a little time left, so let me just say that I get attacked so many times on these questions it's hard to answer all those things.
In February - Senator Dole just said we had the worst economy in a century. In February he said we had the best economy in 30 years. Just February. And I don't want to respond in kind to all these things. I could. I could answer a lot of these things tit for tat. But I hope we can talk about what we're going to do in the future. No attack ever created a job or educated a child or helped a family make ends meet. No insult ever cleaned up a toxic waste dump or helped an elderly person.
Now, for four years that's what I've worked on. If you'll give me four years more, I'll work on it some more. And I'll try to answer these charges, but I prefer to emphasize direct answers to the future, and I gave you a direct answer.
JIM LEHRER: Senator Dole?
MR. DOLE: Well, I'm opposed to discrimination in any form, but I'm - but I don't favor creating special rights for any group. That would be my answer to this question. And I'm - you know, there'd be special rights for different groups in America, but I'm totally opposed to discrimination, don't have any policy against hiring anyone - whether it's lifestyle or whatever, we don't have any policy of that kind, never have had in my office, nor will we have in the future.
But as far as special rights, I'm opposed to same-sex marriages - which the president signed well after midnight one morning, in the dark of night - he opposed it.
But I'll get back to the economic package because I - you know, I think this is very important. If there is anything that's going to change America it's get the economy to go. The president inherited a good economy - sure. The S&L crisis ended, we were selling assets, we had a Republican Congress cutting spending finally, and he says we've had the best four years ever. That's not true.
We had over 1.2 million bankruptcies - set a new record. Credit card debt has never been higher. I just told you about this manufacturing job loss which is going to increase.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. President?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: If you believe that the California economy was better in 1992 than it is today, you should vote for Bob Dole.
I have worked so hard out here to help turn this economy around. Let me just give you one tiny example.
In San Diego, where we had some defense cutbacks, we funded a project with the University of California, San Diego to use airplane composite materials to build lighter, stronger bridges. A little project, and a program that Senator Dole opposed, and that composite now is going to be built around the bridges on the Santa Monica freeway to help minimize the impact of earthquakes and create more jobs. That's just one tiny example. Maybe we'll talk about some more before it's over.
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