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NAFTA Redux
04-02-2008
I can’t decide if I am surprised to see the Obama campaign revisiting the issue of Hillary Clinton’s support for NAFTA, as it did quite aggressively in a conference call with the media earlier today. You may recall that Barack Obama was put on the defensive just prior to the Ohio Primary, when his economic adviser’s comments to a Canadian official appeared to undercut Obama's public criticism of the treaty. Some political observers (myself included), have suggested that the controversy contributed to Obama’s defeat in the state, by exacerbating his difficulties with working-class Democratic voters concerned about the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs and unfair foreign competition. So there is some risk for the Obama campaign in again attacking Clinton on the issue.
 
Given the proximity of Ohio to upcoming primary states Pennsylvania and Indiana, however, the Obama campaign probably believes that it needs to confront the issue, if it intends to make greater inroads among blue-collar voters with similar economic concerns. Hoping to put Clinton on the defensive in Pennsylvania, the Obama campaign is once again pointing to the entries in her recently released White House schedules, which raise the possibility that the First Lady did not oppose NAFTA from within the Clinton Administration, as strongly as she has previously claimed. The Obama campaign is also playing on new seeds of doubt among Democratic voters about Clinton’s trustworthiness, by portraying her avowed opposition to NAFTA in the early 1990s, as an exaggeration similar to her recollection of the Bosnian sniper fire incident. Not surprisingly, the Clinton campaign is working to quickly turn attention back to Obama’s own earlier problems with the Canadian episode. You can read the Clinton campaign’s preemptive response to the Obama campaign’s NAFTA attack here.


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