2008 The Canada Connection
posted by March 3 at 16:15 PMon
In addition to the return of Rezko, there’s another storyline that’s been giving Obama trouble lately.
To begin at the beginning: While Obama has been strongly criticizing NAFTA on the campaign trail, especially in Ohio where many voters blame the agreement for costing their state jobs, Canadian media recently reported that an Obama aide privately told the Canadian government not to take Obama’s NAFTA criticisms seriously.
Within the last month, a top staff member for Obama’s campaign telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources.
The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value.
The Obama campaign has strongly pushed back against this story, but it acknowledged today that Obama’s senior economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, had indeed spoken to a Canada’s consul general in Chicago about Obama’s NAFTA rhetoric. There’s even a memo written by a consulate staffer about the meeting. It says, among other things, that Goolsbee “cautioned that this [NAFTA] messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.”
The Obama campaign says Goolsbee’s remarks were misconstrued, and Obama himself said the same today in a reportedly heated press availability. The Canadian government has issued a press release saying something similar. And Obama is trying to throw this all back in Clinton’s face:
Let me just be absolutely clear what happened… The Canadian Consulate in Chicago contacted one of my advisers, Austan Goolsbee, on their own initiative, invited them down to meet with them. He met with them as a courtesy. At some point they strated talking about trade and Nafta and the Canadian Embassy confirmed that he said exactly what I have been saying on the campaign trail.
So this notion that Senator Clinton is peddling that somehow there is contradictions, or winks and nods, has been disputed by all the parties involved. What has not been disputed is that Senator Clinton and her husband championed Nafta, worked on behalf of Nafta, called it a victory, called it “good for America,” until she started running for president.
I know the Clinton campaign has been true to its word in employing a kitchen sink strategy. … It doesn’t change the facts.
The reaction up north? Well…