Barack Obama’s senior economic policy advisor threw a monkey wrench into the Democratic frontrunner’s smooth-running campaign machine recently by telling Canadian government officials the candidate’s tough talk on NAFTA was just campaign rhetoric.
The campaign turned up the spin machine Sunday in an effort to blunt a memo about the meeting, saying the Canadian official who wrote the memo misquoted Obama policy advisor Austan Goolsbee.
Suggestions of campaign doublespeak come as Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton head into crucial big state primaries in Texas and Ohio.
It also is a rare misstep in a campaign machine that normally runs without such problems.
Reports Nedra Picker of The Associated Press:
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, and officials with the Canadian consulate in Chicago, but Goolsbee said it misinterprets what he told them. The memo was written by Joseph DeMora, who works for the consulate and attended the meeting.
Goolsbee disputed a section that read: “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.”
“This thing about `it’s more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans,’ that’s this guy’s language,” Goolsbee said of DeMora. “He’s not quoting me.
“I certainly did not use that phrase in any way,” Goolsbee said.
The meeting was first reported last week by Canadian television network CTV, which cited unnamed sources as saying that Goolsbee assured the Canadians that Obama’s tough talk on the North American Free Trade Agreement is just campaign rhetoric not to be taken seriously. The Obama campaign and the Canadian embassy denied there was any inconsistency between what the candidate was saying publicly and what advisers were saying privately.
NAFTA is widely opposed in economically depressed Ohio, which holds its presidential primary Tuesday and is a key battleground between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Both candidates said in a debate in Cleveland last week that they would renegotiate the trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, which is the largest trading partnership in the world, and threaten to pull out if it doesn’t include more protections for workers and the environment.
“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,” Obama said in the debate.