May 17th 1988 – busy day for politics at home and overseas, this day. Starting with news of a dramatic decline in the U.S. trade deficit. The Commerce Department issued the March figures which showed a 29% plunge from $13.8 billion in February to $9.7 billion in March. The report was taken as good news in Europe, and was taken as good news for all economies because it represented a stronger U.S. Dollar.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill – the proposed Missile treaty with the Soviet Union was headed for smooth sailing through the Senate. All problems were cleared, the leaders of the key Senate committees; Armed Services, Intelligence and Foreign Relations gave their blessings, and Majority leader Robert Byrd scheduled the INF Treaty Debate to begin sometime later on this day. There was some concern the Conservative wing of the Senate would prolong the debate. But unless there was some last minute snafu, ratification was imminent. That was good news because President Reagan was hoping the pact would be ratified before the U.S.-Soviet Summit begins later this month in Moscow. The INF Treaty was the first to call for the destruction of a whole class of nuclear missiles.
And today was Primary Day in Oregon – the 1988 Presidential Election season was heading to conventions and the horserace was still going with Democrats. Contenders Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson were fighting for 45 delegates, while GOP hopeful George W. Bush was the de facto nominee with his last opponent, Pat Robertson, dropping out the previous day. The latest CBS News Poll had bad news for George Bush – it showed him trailing Dukakis by ten percentage points. But with 5 1/2 months before the election, anything was bound to happen.
And that’s a small slice of what went on, this May 17, 1988 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.