McCain: Obama Misleading Voters on NAFTA

Citing Canadian TV report, McCain says Obama not talking straight talk on Nafta.

ByABC News
February 28, 2008, 1:28 PM

Feb. 28, 2008 — -- Responding to a Canadian Television report that an aide to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, had reached out to the Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. to reassure him that Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric was not to be taken seriously -- a report the Obama campaign and the Canadian Embassy deny -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Thursday said that Obama seemed guilty of not being straight with voters, and called such behavior "wrong."

"I don't think it's appropriate to go to Ohio and tell people one thing while your aide is calling the Canadian Ambassador and telling him something else," McCain told reporters. "I certainly don't think that's straight talk."

CTV reported Wednesday night that a "senior member" of Obama's "campaign team" telephoned Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Wilson within the last month "and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA" but that "the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value."

The report was attributed to "Canadian sources." Spokesmen for the Canadian Embassy and the Obama campaign deny its accuracy.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said that "the news reports on Obama's position on NAFTA are inaccurate and in no way represent Sen. Obama's consistent position on trade.

When Sen. Obama says he will forcefully act to make NAFTA a better deal for American workers, he means it." Burton added that "both Canada and Mexico should know" that Obama would demand amendments to NAFTA to include labor and environmental standards not currently in the treaty.

The Canadian Embassy issued a statement Thursday stating that "at no time has any member of a Presidential campaign called the Canadian Ambassador or any official at the Embassy to discuss NAFTA" and stated the CTV story is "untrue. Neither before nor since the Ohio debate has any presidential campaign called Ambassador Wilson or the Embassy to raise NAFTA."

Both Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, have been expressing reservations about NAFTA as they try to woo Ohio Democratic voters, one quarter of whom belong to unions that blame NAFTA for massive job loss in the states. Both candidates have accused the other of misrepresenting their positions; both insist that they have serious reservations about NAFTA and as president will push to revise the treaty.