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The Press : Foreign Commentators Take On U.S. Elections

October 27, 1992

Columnists and editorial writers around the globe have virtually ceded next week's U.S. presidential election to Gov. Bill Clinton--sometimes with regret over the prospect of losing from the world stage a man, President Bush, whom they perceive as much better versed in foreign affairs, sometimes with hope that Clinton would grow with the job.

Another powerful theme in the overseas press is concern over the back-seat role being played in the campaign by foreign affairs. A sampling:

"Unless a Third World War breaks out, or Martians infest the Earth from space or a holocaust of unspeakable proportions rolls over the universe before Nov. 3, William Clinton will be the next President of the United States. . . .

"I look at George Bush and somehow I feel he has lost sight of America and what the Liberty Bell stands for. I look at Ross Perot and I feel he belongs more to Carnegie Hall than to the White House. I look at Bill Clinton, and you get it right in the pit of the stomach. He's the guy."

--Columnist Teodoro Benigno

The Philippine Star , Manila

"A change can only do the USA good. Bush, the foreign policy pro, has not gotten a handle on the urgent economic and social problems of his country. Clinton, the domestic policy pro, will tackle them energetically. The healthier America is, the better for us. Such a big partner in chronic crisis hurts everyone. And Clinton's foreign policy inexperience? The Democrats have many European and German experts at their disposal. They, and Clinton himself, will not tend to the partnership any less than Bush does."

-- Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

Essen, Germany

"The promised economic upswing is still waiting to happen. Unchanged are the jobs in danger, the bad schools, the high crime rate, the climbing costs of health care. . . . The anniversary of the Cuban crisis recalls the era in which Bush's foreign policy achievements would have counted as a trump card. But after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism, the economic crisis has become the No. 1 concern. And the one with the better cards there is the one who has anything at all in the hand."

-- General Anzeiger , Bonn

"Two candidates playing hide and seek, quarreling over whether they are going to debate, if they have to debate, when and where they have to debate; a third man who would like to be a candidate, then is not anymore, then is back again: The campaign for the American presidency leaves the European observer more and more perplexed. . . .

"If you add to this debate on debates the arguments used by both of them, bearing in turn on the fact that Bill Clinton succeeded in avoiding conscription at the time of the Vietnam War, or that George Bush is the person most responsible for the Gulf War . . . you find yourself wondering about the functioning of the largest democracy in the world."

--Robert Verdussen

La Libre Belgique , Brussels

"The Republicans have been acting like a manufacturing company that thinks selling its product has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with marketing. Voters have had it up to here with this strategy. That is why, come January, George Bush may be moving out of the White House. Stop talking about what a nice paint job the car has, the electorate on both sides of the border has been saying, and start telling us what's under the hood."

-- The Globe and Mail , Toronto

"To their credit, both Ronald Reagan and George Bush stood by U.S. overseas commitments in spite of mounting pressures to turn inward, cut foreign aid dramatically and erect protectionist barriers. For better or for worse, both Presidents accorded foreign policy the primacy it has traditionally enjoyed in Washington. It is now obvious, however, that foreign policy successes do not produce votes in an economy characterized by mounting poverty and growing disenchantment. . . .

"In a Clinton Administration, American foreign policy will likely concentrate on aggressively opening up foreign markets for U.S. exports. American trade representatives will lean harder on the East and Southeast Asian countries--all of them enjoying healthy trade surpluses with the United States. They will put pressure for stricter enforcement of American patents, bigger concessions for American exports and exchange rates more favorable to American trade."

--Columnist Alex Magno

The Manila Chronicle , Manila

"Clinton is the symbol of the baby boomers, of the '60s generation--that of his adolescence--and its values, which today is taking its revenge on the decade of the '80s with its grasping greed. . . .

"Clinton, the 'comeback kid,' is the candidate of renewal linked with the New Deal of Roosevelt and the New Frontier of Kennedy, against the crepuscular Bush. For a population where the average age is 32, the decision appears already made."

-- Le Nouvel Observateur magazine, Paris

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