VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 9, 1996
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Kemp, Senator Dole has criticized the president on Haiti, that he handled that wrong. What did he do wrong?
MR. KEMP: Well, it was Bob Dole that suggested that there be a fact-finding commission. President Carter was on it. Colin Powell was on it. You cannot say, in our opinion, that Haiti is a great success. Clearly it was maybe the right thing to do, but we did not go in with enough information.
We caused problems in the first place by denying Caribbean countries and third world countries a chance to trade freely in the United States. It causes economic problems and turmoil, and then we turn around, as we did in Mexico, having to bail them out. We caused the problem in the first place, and it cost us $20 billion to $50 billion to bail them out.
Haiti is very ambiguous at best. We pray that democracy comes to Haiti. But so far, the message from Haiti is quite ambiguous, notwithstanding the declaration of victory by this administration.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, I didn't hear anything wrong. The fact is we restored democracy to Haiti. When I say restored, actually it's the first real democracy that Haiti has ever had. And it happened with scarcely any shots being fired.
I was in the Oval Office the night when President Clinton dispatched our troops from Fort Bragg. It was a tense moment. The planes were in the air, and our negotiators were talking with the dictator down there. And when that dictator got the news from his spies outside the gate that all these planes were taking off, he said, "Let's get out of here." That's how it was done. It was one of the most deft uses of diplomacy and military force in combination that you will find anywhere in the annals of the history of this country.
I was so proud of our president in the way he handled that, and the result so far is excellent. And we hope and pray that it will remain that way.
MR. KEMP: Many more results like Bosnia, and Haiti, and Mexico, and the Middle East, and we won't have much success. One of the most serious - one of the most serious problems was the tremendous effort by this administration to force on Mexico a devaluation of their peso. The economy has dropped by almost 40 to 50 percent, then we go in and bail them out. We cause the problem and then we have to bail them out.
We should have a foreign policy that's predicated upon trade, on spreading democracy by giving people opportunities to trade freely with us and making sure that everybody recognizes the rule of the - the Golden Rule, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Diplomacy first, and don't bomb before breakfast.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Vice President, Mexico - we caused the problem and then had to go in and bail them out?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: No, that's not right. When Mr. Kemp started talking about the Golden Rule, I thought he was going to talk about the gold standard again.
That used to be an integral part of this so-called supply-side economics, but it may be something else that he now agrees with Bob Dole on, because Bob Dole voted to take us off the gold standard - a wise vote in my opinion. Most all economists say that, if we did that, it would throw us into a deep recession or a depression and throw millions out of work.
But let me come directly to this question. No, when there was a crisis involving the Mexican peso, again President Bill Clinton showed bold and dynamic leadership. I want to hasten to add that Senator Bob Dole gave critical bipartisan support at the time. He agreed with the president. He supported the president. He said this is a wise move. He could not get a majority in the Senate, and Speaker Gingrich could not get a majority in the House, to go on record in support of it.
So the president, as presidents often have to do, went alone and did the right thing. You know, people said it was a big risk at that time. We've ended up making a $500 million profit. All of the loans have been paid back. We're using that $500 million to further reduce the deficit. It's come down 60 percent already. It's going down even more toward a balanced budget, and this is helping.
MR. KEMP: It's unbelievable that we could cause a drop in the standard of living of a friendly country like Mexico by nearly 40 to 50 percent, unemployment goes up, we send U.S. tax dollars and IMF monies to Mexico, and we make a profit. At that level, that gives new meaning to the word "profitability" for U.S. foreign policy. The pain, the suffering, the unemployment, the bankruptcies, the loss of the standard of living, the people who have had to come across the border of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. If that's our foreign policy for the third world or Latin America, I believe more than ever we've got to elect a president who understands trade, who understands honest money, who understands private enterprise, who understands democratic capitalism, not socialism caused by the IMF and the Clinton administration.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, I fail to understand the basis of the charge that we caused the monetary crisis in Mexico. They manage their own monetary policy. Years ago we used to hear this phrase in American politics, the "blame America first" crowd. I never liked that phrase. But if it was going to be applied today, it would have to be applied to this statement.
The United States of America shouldn't be blamed for the management of Mexico's monetary policy. We helped our neighbor in an hour of need. And they survived. They're stronger. They're coming back. They paid us back. And we got a dividend in the process.