Thursday, February 19, 2009

RNC: Trading Positions: After Two Years on the Campaign Trail and a Month in the Oval Office, Do We Finally Know President Obama's Position on NAFTA?

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Republican National Committee:

Today, President Obama is travelling to Canada to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and is expected to reassure Harper of his commitment to trade:

Today, President Obama Will Take His First International Trip To Canada. "Obama will visit Canada Thursday on his first international trip as president, and in an interview with the Canadian Broadcast Company Tuesday morning, the issue of NAFTA came up quickly." (Sam Youngman, "Obama Defends NAFTA Policy Ahead Of Canada Trip," The Hill, 2/17/09)

Foreign Policy Adviser Denis McDonough Said President Obama Will Make It Clear That He Is Interested In More Trade. "'Obviously, given the delicate state of the global economy, [Obama] wants to make clear to Prime Minister Harper and to all of our trading partners that this is no time for anybody to give the impression that somehow we are interested in less - rather than more - trade,' [Obama Foreign Policy Adviser Denis] McDonough said. 'That's the message that he'll underscore.'" (Carrie Budoff Brown, "O, Canada: Plans For Obama's Trip North," The Politico, 2/18/09)

President Obama: "Canada Is One Of Our Most Important Trading Partners ... It Is Not In Anybody's Interest To See That Trade Diminish." "'But what I've also said is that Canada is one of our most important trading partners, we rely on them heavily, there's $1.5 billion worth of trade going back and forth every day between the two countries and that it is not in anybody's interest to see that trade diminish,' Obama said." (Carrie Budoff Brown, "O, Canada: Plans For Obama's Trip North," The Politico, 2/18/09)

But During The Democrat Primary, Then-Sen. Obama Pledged To Amend NAFTA And Even Suggested Opting-Out:

As A Presidential Candidate, Obama Repeatedly Threatened To Quit NAFTA. "As a presidential candidate stumping across the Rust Belt a year ago, Barack Obama drew cheers when he threatened to quit the North American Free Trade Agreement unless Canada and Mexico agreed to tough new worker-friendly standards." (Carrie Budoff Brown, "O, Canada: Plans For Obama's Trip North," The Politico, 2/18/09)

At The AFL-CIO Forum In August 2007, Then-Sen. Obama Pledged To "Immediately Call The President Of Mexico, The President Of Canada To Try To Amend NAFTA..." "I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada to try to amend NAFTA because I think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now. And it should reflect the basic principle that our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall Street, it should also be good for Main Street." (Sen. Barack Obama, AFL-CIO Presidential Candidates Forum, Chicago, IL, 8/7/07)

At A February 2008 Debate In Ohio, Then-Sen. Obama Pledged To Renegotiate NAFTA With The Threat Of A "Potential Opt-Out." NBC's Tim Russert: "A simple question. Will you as president say to Canada and Mexico, this [NAFTA] has not worked for us, we are out?" Obama: "I will make sure that we renegotiate in the same way that Senator Clinton talked about, and I think actually Senator Clinton's answer on this one is right. I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced." (Sen. Barack Obama, MSNBC Democrat Presidential Debate, Cleveland, OH, 2/26/08)

Meanwhile, Economic Adviser Austan Goolsbee Told Canadian Officials Obama's Protectionist Rhetoric Was Merely "Political Positioning":

Despite Denials That The Meeting Occurred, The Associated Press Noted A Memo Written By The Canadian Consulate Which Described An Obama Adviser's Visit. "Barack Obama's senior economic policy adviser said Sunday that Canadian government officials wrote an inaccurate portrayal of his private discussion on the campaign's trade policy in a memo obtained by The Associated Press. The memo is the first documentation to emerge publicly out of the meeting between the adviser, Austan Goolsbee..." (Nedra Pickler, "Obama Adviser Denies Trade Remarks," The Associated Press, 3/2/08)

Canadian Consulate Memo: Goolsbee Said Anti-Trade Messaging "Should Be Viewed As More About Political Positioning Than A Clear Articulation Of Policy Plans." "Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans." (Nedra Pickler, "Obama Adviser Denies Trade Remarks," The Associated Press, 3/2/08)

Obama Senior Adviser Disputed The Memo. Obama Adviser Austan Goolsbee: "This thing about 'it's more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans,' that's this guy's language. ... He's not quoting me. I certainly did not use that phrase in any way." (Nedra Pickler, "Obama Adviser Denies Trade Remarks," The Associated Press, 3/2/08)

Even President Obama's Eventual Chief Of Staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Disagreed With Obama's NAFTA Position During The Primary:

Emanuel, Along With Other Democrat House Members, Distanced Himself From Obama's Position On NAFTA. "Three other Democratic House members - Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, New York Rep. Steve Israel, and New Jersey Rep. Robert Andrews - all joined Davis in distancing themselves from the NAFTA position articulated by the Democratic Party's presidential candidates." (Teddy Davis, "NAFTA Renegotiation Questioned By Fellow Dems," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog,, 2/29/08)

But Prior To Running For President, Obama Supported NAFTA:

In September 2004, Obama Said The U.S Should "Pursue Deals Such As The North American Free Trade Agreement." "[Obama] said the United State [sic] should continue to work with the World Trade Organization and pursue deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the country must be more aggressive about protecting American interests." (Christopher Wills, "Senate Candidates Speak On Farm, Trade Issues," The Associated Press, 9/8/04)

And After Winning The Democrat Primary, Obama Shifted His Position On NAFTA Once Again:

After He Wrapped Up The Democrat Nomination, Obama "Tamped Down His Rhetoric" On NAFTA. "The softer tone as president widens the already-gaping distance with Obama's more protectionist pose of the primary. He tamped down his rhetoric after wrapping up the nomination, acknowledging in a June interview with Fortune magazine that the anti-trade talk got 'overheated and amplified.'" (Carrie Budoff Brown, "O, Canada: Plans For Obama's Trip North," The Politico, 2/18/09)

No comments: