It's Just That Close

No matter how the debate with Perot turns out, the White House still risks losing NAFTA

What could Bill Clinton have been thinking of? He was making progress toward persuading Congress to approve the North American Free Trade Agreement, and looked likely -- but far from certain -- to win an excruciatingly close House vote next Wednesday. So why risk giving last-minute national TV exposure to Ross Perot, NAFTA's loudest foe? Especially in the form of a debate with Vice President Al Gore, whose wooden performance in a face-off against Dan Quayle last fall contrasted painfully with Perot's barbed wisecracks in his own debates with Clinton and George Bush?

Clinton did have his reasons. He and Gore...

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