Words get in the way of Perot


A NAFTA primer with Ross Perot:

Interviewer: "Mr. Perot, exactly why are you opposed to NAFTA?"

Perot: "Are you through? Can I get a word in here?"

Interviewer: "Well, I was just trying to . . ."

Perot: "I know what you're tryin' to do. The American people know what you're tryin' to do. And b'lieve me, they're not gonna stand for it anymore."

Interviewer: "Please, go ahead with your . . ."

Perot: "If I could just finish one sentence without interruption . . . now, you ask me why I'm opposed to NAFTA. I'll tell you why: 'cuz that dog won't hunt. Ain't no way. It's like tryin' to slip dawn past a rooster. You b'lieve in NAFTA, I got a hunnert acres of prime beachfront property in Dallas I'll sell you."

Interviewer: "Sir, if you could be a little more specific."

Perot: "Is this how it's gonna be? I answer the question, you badger me? 'Cause if it is, I'll be outta here in a New York minute. Son, I don't need this. I got my money. I'm doing this for my country."

Interviewer: "We're just trying to establish why . . ."

Perot: "Lemme give it to you nice and simple. Rancher I know had a steer, OK? Steer runs off in the middle of the night. Rancher saddles up, rides after the steer. Tracks that steer for days and days.

"Steer's had no food, no water. Rancher finally ketches up to the steer and guess what? That steer's but a little bitty thing now, barely weighs a hunnert pounds. You see what I'm sayin'?"

Interviewer: "I'm not sure I follow you."

Perot: "Son, are you gonna lemme talk? OK, lemme put it in terms even a fifth-grader would unnerstand.

"Man decides to buy a henhouse. He looks at this one ol' henhouse, got 50 hens layin' 10 eggs a day. Man on the next farm over calls up, says: 'Earl, I'll sell you a henhouse got 70 hens layin' 20 eggs a day.'

Now which one is the man gonna buy?"

Interviewer: "Well, I guess the henhouse with . . ."

Perot: "You guess! Hell, son, this is basic economics. We sign this NAFTA, the Meskins'll be runnin' the henhouse. Jobs'll be leavin' this country so fast, make yer head spin.

"You'll hear a giant sucking noise, sound like 200,000 Hoover vacuum cleaners goin' off at the same time."

Interviewer: "Mexico's President Salinas is on record as . . ."

Perot (snorts): " SALINAS! It's like I was tellin' that pumpkinhead Al Gore. Here's a country got no standard of livin' to speak of. Worker pay's gone down, they got no benefits, live in slums, don't go to movies, nothin'.

"Ask 'em who John Wayne was, they look at you like you got three heads!"

Interviewer: "And yet many economists feel . . ."

(Suddenly Perot reaches over and swats the interviewer alongside the head with a rolled up newspaper.)

Perot: "Son, I have had it with these inneruptions! Are you gonna lemme speak?"

Interviewer: "Y-yes . . . of course."

Perot: "Thank you very much. As I was sayin', you got folks don't know who the Duke was, I don't see why we wanna do bidness with 'em."

Interviewer: "It doesn't impress you that four former presidents and most leading economists favor NAFTA?'

Perot: "Two words: No, it doesn't. Never did put much stock in . . . OK, fella over here said that was three words."

Interviewer: "If we could change the subject slightly . . ."

Perot: "Son, are we back to that? Are we back to inneruptin'?"

(Taps rolled-up newspaper menacingly in one palm.)

Interviewer: "Let's talk about market disparity between the U.S. and Mexico."

Perot: "Won't take long to kill that snake. People who don't make anythin' can't buy anythin'. Bird in the hand's worth two in the bush. Don't count yer chickens 'til they're hatched. A contented cow gives milk. Hell, I could go on and on."

Interviewer: "Sir, are you suggesting that . . ."

Perot: "Son, you ever seen my spread in Texas? Got a huge house, fleet of Mercedes with bulletproof glass, 200 former FBI agents patrolling the property, 75 ex-Navy Seals in my personal security entourage, helicopters flyin' overhead 24 hours a day with sophisticated detection equipment lookin' for all the Libyan death squads out to get me.

"Beautiful place. Know how much I'd be worth in Mexico? 'Bout $14.95."

Interviewer: "Mr. Perot, we certainly want to thank you for stopping by."

Perot: "Is it over? Say, where's a fella take a pee 'round here?"

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