Election 2008

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Bush's Line on Colombian Trade Deal Stirs Up Democratic Campaigns

April 08, 2008 04:15 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A Clinton staff shake-up and the coming primary in labor-heavy Pennsylvania had already pushed free trade to the center of the presidential race.

30-Second Summary

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The demotion of Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist for a meeting with the Colombian government has cast a spotlight on a controversial free-trade agreement involving members of both political parties and helped to solidify free trade as a central topic in the coming election.

Even though both Democratic candidates have spoken out against the free-trade agreement, the Clinton campaign staff’s connections to lobbying efforts has caused some unions to question the validity of her opposition. Questions regarding Clinton’s stance on trade are especially important in the coming primary contest in Pennsylvania, where a number of unions have spoken out against the Colombian agreement.

First negotiated in late 2006, the Colombia free-trade agreement has been left in limbo owing to a lack of support in Congress and opposition by United States unions.

Insisting that the agreement be dealt with immediately, President George W. Bush has presented it to Congress for a vote, which must occur before 90 legislative days have passed.

Labor unions have charged that the Colombian government has used force to quell labor unrest in the country—actions that they feel should disqualify a working agreement with the United States.

Polls have also shown that the American public has focused much of the blame for the current state of the economy on free trade agreements, such as NAFTA, believing they are responsible for a lack of manufacturing jobs.

With regard to the presidential campaign, Democrats argue that trade and their opposition to such open agreements could be a winning hand in the November general election. The Bush administration has vigorously advocated on behalf of trade liberalization.

Headline Links: Bush pushes for free trade, candidates opposed

Background: Campaigns tied to free-trade support

Reactions: Obama criticized, Clinton doubted

Opinion & Analysis: Candidates backed into corner

Reference: The Colombia agreement and the candidates’ views

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