Obama and NAFTA


Feb 27, 2008
Clinton raised questions in Ohio about Obama's position on NAFTA based on an Associated Press report.

The AP obtained a memo from a Canadian diplomat saying an Obama adviser had told Canada's government the candidate's criticism of NAFTA was "more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."

But Austan Goolsbee, the Obama adviser, told the AP his statements were mischaracterized.

Clinton said Monday the memo should raise doubts about Obama's criticism of NAFTA, which is highly unpopular in Ohio after a large loss of manufacturing jobs there in recent years.

"I don't think you should come to Ohio and tell the people of Ohio one thing and then have your campaign tell a foreign government something else behind closed doors," she said in Toledo. "That's the kind of difference between talk and action that I've been talking about throughout this campaign."

The Obama campaign cried foul.

"Sen. Clinton knows full well that she's not telling the truth on this story, and that her blatant distortion is just part of her campaign's stated strategy to throw the kitchen sink at Sen. Obama in the closing days of this campaign," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

"The truth is Sen. Clinton called NAFTA a victory and has switched positions for raw political reasons. Her false attack won't protect American workers, but as president, Sen. Obama will."

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said Goolsbee's comments came during an informal conversation on a walking tour of the University of Chicago, where the adviser is a professor. Plouffe described the AP report as overblown and inaccurate.

"This is being reported as if somehow this is an official meeting of an Obama representative and the Canadian government," Plouffe said. "That was not the case. He was essentially doing a walking tour and was essentially having a casual conversation and the report on that conversation was not accurate."

In a statement Monday, the Canadian Embassy in Washington said, "There was no intention to convey, in any way, that Sen. Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private, including about NAFTA."

At a campaign stop in Texas, Obama said the embassy statement shows he had not been giving any "winks or nods" to the largest U.S. trading partner.

The memo controversy occurred as the two candidates tried to sway undecided voters in the final hours before the polls open Tuesday in Texas and Ohio.
it it turns out that this is true it could really hurt Barack Obama. because it looks completely like something a politician would do, not like the kind of person Obama has been portraying himself as - the "hope" and "change" candidate.