August 7th, 2007
10:25 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama slip on Canada

(CNN) – For the second time in recent debates, the mention of world leaders has attracted attention to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

At Tuesday night’s AFL-CIO forum in Chicago, Obama was asked if he would scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement as president. The senator from Illinois said, “I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada, to try to amend NAFTA, because I think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now.”

The only problem is Canada has a prime minister, not a president.

And just in case anybody missed Obama’s slip, Senator Joe Biden noted, “Hey, look, the president's job is to create jobs, not to export jobs. And the idea that we are not willing to take the prime minister of Canada and the president of Mexico to the mat to make this agreement work is just a lack of presidential leadership. I would lead. I would do that. I would change it.”

- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Joe Biden • Race to '08
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Rose Hillrose, Chicago, IL

    This is inexcusable. The guy lives just across the Great Lakes and does not even know Canada is lead by a Prime Minister. If this is what Harvard can give America then the there is a lot of crap flowing from there.

    August 8, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  2. Anonymous

    More anti-Obama news, CNN?!

    August 8, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |

    Like I said the man is not ready.... just like when
    George W started and still now does it, embarrassing our country
    With the ignorance of a 10 year old. Obama will be ready for the
    Big game in 8 years MAYBE. We can no risk a NAIVE person again with crazy ideas
    On how to re-shape the word AND HIS HEAD UP HIS BEHIND.


    August 8, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  4. Providence, RI

    It shows OBAMA'S lack of knowledge...

    August 8, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. Bob, Landover, MD

    You try speaking in 100+ degree weather in front of 1,500 people with 6 rivals attacking your every inhale of Oxygen. You might miss call a word or three yourself. Get Real this is childish and showing signs of desperation on your part.

    August 8, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  6. Frank Patrone, Springfield, MA

    Who the heck cares? I'm not a huge Obama supporter or anything, but you folks in the media make big deals out of nonsense like this.

    This election is important, so let's here about the issues not the gossip.

    August 8, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  7. Kevin, NH

    Is this the best topic you can come up with from the myriad issues discussed at the debate?

    August 8, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  8. Philip, Carbondale, KS

    So what?

    August 8, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. John Thomas, Edina, MN

    Sorry to say, but Obama LOVES NAFTA. Afterall, he is in the Council on Foreign Relations. You know, the group that is trying to tear down America's borders, strip us of our sovereignty, and make the USA, Mexico, and Canada one big country. Say hello to the "Amero" as our new currency if Obama is elected. Say hello to a National ID card if Obama is elected. Say goodbye to America if Obama is elected.

    The only way we can STOP any of this from moving forward (if it's not too late) is to get Ron Paul into office. He will save America's sovereignty and protect our liberties.

    August 8, 2007 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  10. Austin W., Chicago, IL

    Although I am a lifelong registered Democrat and will absolutely be voting for one of the people on stage at Soldier Field last night for President in 2008, one thing about the debate really bothered me.
    In the later part of the forum when they began receiving questions from audience members, some of whom had been waiting in line for quite a long time, it soon became customary for the recipient of a question to entirely brush off the question in order to rebut another candidate’s answer to a previous question. Their reply would begin, “Well, that’s a very important question, but just really quickly before I answer that, I’d like to get back to…” and then they’d never get back to the person’s question. The first of these I noticed was Joe Biden, of whom I’m (usually) a big fan, being asked a question about health care but feeling it was much more important to “hammer home” some “important point” about his stance on Iraq. If I was the person who asked the question about health care, I would have been at the least unimpressed, and more likely, rather offended. Then there was a similar non-response from Clinton. Then there was one from Dodd. And I, the committed voter, was quickly disgusted.

    These candidates need it hammered home to them that in polite society, this is considered rude. It is unfortunate that it comes to this, but I really think Keith Olbermann should have had a buzzer to press whenever a candidate decided to change from the topic at hand, at the expense of someone who may have travelled a very long way and stood under the sun for a very long time, just to ask them one question.

    August 8, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Phill, Kansas, MO

    I thought you could cover any important issues than this. You have always slipped on numerous occasions so what makes Obama's slip so special to talk about. If he doesn't get elected, you shall have achieved your objective so we'll see if you'll have a better America with your preferred candidate, HRC.

    August 8, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. Michael James - Illinois

    Good grief, is this what passes for political coverage these days?

    Even if we accept the quoted text as accurate, the only thing it tells us is that there was a very minor slip of the tongue. If we could focus on substance instead of this sort of nitpicking, the country would be a lot better off.

    Obama is a better leader than Clinton and would fare better against the Republicans.

    August 8, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Linda - Albany, NY

    First impressions are always important, especially in politics. I'm sure the PM of Canada was not impressed. To anyone that thinks the slip doesn't count, think again.

    Obama is still too green. He needs a few more years to grow.

    August 8, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. OPA

    This is a sad attempt to bad talk a candidate.

    Playing on words is something you punish your child for.

    Grow up CNN.

    August 8, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. Lou, Mississippi

    Dear Clinton News Network,

    Do you realize what you are doing? Do you even have a clue?

    Are you going to do a segment on Hillary Clinton's ties to lobbyist and her comment that they don't effect her vote? What about her comment that you don't say what you think when running for President?

    Do you realize that God is watching you and He is taking notes? He sees what you are doing.

    You take every second to bash either Senator Obama or Senator Edwards but NEVER call Hillary Clinton on the carpet about her comments.

    August 8, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. katwac

    You know, I guess I am crazy but I heard Obama say Presidents of Mexico and Canada but the rest he said was drilled into my brain and that was what counted.

    August 8, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. Grovin, Darnassus, IL

    If a slip of the tongue renders one ineligible for the presidency, George W. Bush wouldn't have been allowed to run even once.

    Attention CNN: This is not news. Please stick to the meaningful stuff.

    August 8, 2007 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. LB, Franklin Lakes, NJ

    To John Thomas in MN:

    Please tell us how you know all this about Obama? Where's the proof besides on some wacko website? You made a statement, back it up with facts.

    August 8, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. Craig, Seattle WA

    I totally agree that any candidate for president MUST KNOW THE RIGHT TITLE for their potential peers. In this case of Canada – yes, Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister – NOT A PRESIDENT!.. GET IT RIGHT OBAMA!

    August 8, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. John Thomas, Edina, MN

    To LB, in NJ.

    You requested a source? Oh, how about straight from the CFR:

    Looks like the only wack is you and the rest of the CFR (including Obama) that want to destroy this country.

    August 8, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. Eustace, New York, NY


    OMG...Is she for real. If a potential president cannot talk forcefully and frankly to the American people and the world, they shouldn't be allowed to run for president. Hillary, I guess that means you prefer the tradition of lies, half truths, secrecy, insider debate... reminds me of the current bush-cheney stance. Hillary said to bring your brooms and vacuums to clean up Washington...the only thing that can clean up Washington is to rid it of Clinton and her lobbyist and arrogant friends.

    Now there's a good story for CNN to cover. Bias has taken a new level on CNN.

    August 8, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  22. av3, Washington DC

    Obama is not infallible!??!?!?

    Thanks for pointing out this out for us, CNN.

    August 8, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. Josh

    I think the only thing worse than CNN actually running this piece of "news" is the fact that there are idiots in this country that actually think that this "slip" will affect the way Obama would run this country. If you were on stage in front of 15,000 people in 100 degree weather with all the candidates against you along with "news" channels like CNN against you, you would make a lot more mistakes than Obama. And if you really think that because he "slipped" under these circumstances really means that he has no idea that Canada has a prime minister, then you are more ignorant than you are claiming him to be.

    By the way, out of all the negative comments about this "slip", maybe 1 was written with correct grammar. That is a little ironic, don't you think?

    AND, let's just ignore the fact that EVERY politician has misspoken. Guess what? They are HUMAN. Humans make mistakes. For instance, it is a mistake that Hillary Clinton continues to defend her support of lobbyists. But let us concentrate on the real issues, like Obama's chronic naivety.

    To CNN: For the sake of my sanity and the sake of our country, please get a life and start running real stories.

    To everyone who is not supporting Obama because of @#%& like this: Please do not vote.

    August 8, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. LB, Franklin Lakes, NJ

    Back to John Thomas in MN:

    So Obama is on the CFR. I'll take your word for it since it wasn't on the site you referred to. In fact his name wasn't anywhere I could find. So how do you know he loves NAFTA? Where do I find that information. Has he said so? Do you think every member of the CFR agrees on everything? And the article on the CFR website didn't say anything about combining the US, Canada and Mexico into one country. It said basically combine resources for security, trade and investment purposes while still maintaining national sovereignty. And it was only a discussion.

    You made up all the rest about Obama and the end of America. You might want to think about writing a fiction novel.

    August 8, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  25. Lance, Monrovia, CA

    Obama was the only candidate on stage last night that was actually veering away from the pack and saying something smart and crucial. Of course we should go get Bin Laden wherever he is, the rest look weak for not agreeing. Of course we should reform the lobbyist system... its mucking up the system. Hillary Clinton feels like she's still living in the 90's while Obama feels fresh, relevant and by far the strongest on issues both foriegn and domestic that are going to reverse the damage.

    Oh, and by the way, I don't want my President to "take on the right." as Hillary said. I am so incredibly weary of left versus right, us versus them, evil versus good. Get a President in there that can make the country whole and start some forward momentum on things like healthcare and global warming. Hillary could NEVER bring Republicans and Democrats together as Americans. If you watch what she's saying closely, she's saying the same "you're either with me or against me" that Bush has, only now it's for the left rather than the right. Obama feels like he knows exactly what needs to be done and he's the absolute best to do it.

    What needs to be done is bringing the partys together and not being wishy washy. We need someone that sees the way ahead and can unite us. Obama '08

    August 8, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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