NAFTA and the 2008 Election

Topic: NAFTA and the 2008 Election

James Goldgeier:  Well, we saw in the Democratic primary, certainly the politics was-- drove both Obama and Clinton toward talking about the need to redo NAFTA. You know, very ironic-- especially for Hillary Clinton-- because NAFTA really was one of Bill Clinton's signature achievements as president. And, you know, you can't really renegotiate agreements like that because you really then signal-- you give too much to the other partners out there reason to think, "Well wait a minute, maybe the United States isn't really a reliable trade partner, if they're going to want to renegotiate the next time somebody comes into office." So, I don't think that's realistic and I think that Obama will find himself, as presidents do, having to try to push forward on free trade, but the politics are going to be very difficult. I mean, Bill Clinton-- we had in our book, Charlene Barshefsky who was Clinton's trade representative in the second term. You know, she said 1993 was the high point. You know, and Clinton's battle with the party, you know, just dragged on through the decade. It was very difficult for him. And the politics are even tougher today for Obama. I mean, you know, the left part of the Democratic Party feels that, really, the American worker has gotten the shaft and they're not going to want to listen to a president talking about free trade.

Recorded on: 07/08/2008


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