CHICAGO -- With a crucial vote in Ohio tomorrow hanging in the balance, a row over comments Barack Obama's top economic adviser made about Obama's recent rhetoric on the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement is back in the news today. At issue is whether, despite Obama's harsh words for NAFTA, his adviser had privately assured Canadian officials that it was politics, not an indication of future policy. The Clinton campaign continues to push this story hard, believing it shows duplicity by Obama's campaign.
Here's today's development, as reported by the Associated Press:
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (AP) -- 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.