Originally created 06/18/04

Debate brings out diatribes on trade



GREENVILLE, S.C. - Former Gov. David Beasley and U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint attacked each other's positions on international trade Thursday in the second broadcast debate of the runoff.

Mr. DeMint has tried to tame the trade issue, regularly pointing out that jobs in the state are lost to the recession and businesses becoming more efficient and that only 2 percent of those in the unemployment lines are there because of trade.

Mr. Beasley said Mr. DeMint is directly involved in the job loss, having switched votes on a trade bill that "literally allowed jobs to leave South Carolina."

Mr. DeMint would have none of it. That charge and Mr. Beasley's beating on the trade drum are the sort of "complete misinformation that we're starting to get used to getting from David Beasley."

The agreements that Mr. Beasley wants would spark a trade war that would put people in South Carolina, which is rich in export-dependent and international businesses, out of work, Mr. DeMint said.

The economy is on the verge of its greatest expansion, but Mr. Beasley insists that the "sky is falling," Mr. DeMint said.

Mr. Beasley persisted, asking, "How do you explain that we are No. 1 in American job loss?"

The former governor noted that Mr. DeMint hadn't signed a letter with others on the state's Congressional delegation urging President Bush to review trade policies with China.

Mr. DeMint said he has repeatedly worked for trade deals, including requirements that U.S. cloth be used in some imported products. And, he said, he voted with the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond on trade bills.

"Don't be hiding behind Strom Thurmond; he's not here to defend himself," Mr. Beasley said.

Mr. Beasley then accused Mr. DeMint of breaking his word on a variety of issues, including that he would run a positive campaign and wouldn't accept money from political action committees.

But Mr. DeMint said it was Mr. Beasley who had strayed from the positive campaign.

"You started attacking me the first day you got in this race. You exaggerate and make things up every day of the race," Mr. DeMint said.

The rest of the hourlong debate was tame.

The candidates generally agreed on a variety of other topics, including the need to lower taxes, protect Social Security and make it tougher to sue doctors.