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. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Everybody makes mistake, it is good excuse for common people not for the future President. Obama is running for the President of USA. He said he is going to meet our enemy country's president, he even couldn't figure out their title and name, how imbarrassing our country, could be worse than Bush. Obama is naive about politics, inexperienced in leadership and has a poor knowledge in American and international history by his failure of foreign policy and misspoke at debate. If you say "media is nonsense", you are wrong, CNN is the most trustworthy Broadcasting team. Hillary's statement is correct "Presidents shouldn't say what they think if they are RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT". American people will vote you by what kind of Presient you are going to be. That's why it is so important. Obama needs more practice.

    August 8, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  2. Your Misunderstood Neighbour

    As a Canadian I am more than aware of the lack of knowledge of my country in the US is amazing; giving the title "president" to or "prime minister" is miniscule in comparison.

    Obama is bringing topics to the table that Americans should be talking about and certainly the world wants to hear from a country that has so much military power and misuses it so tragically.

    So, Obama we forgive you..

    August 9, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. Anonymous

    I'm not sure at what point I'm jumping in here LB. I'll remind you that the EU started out as a prosperity plan too. Once they combine economics, they'll combine everything else. Don't worry, they'll make you love the idea. It won't be a doomsday event.

    August 9, 2007 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Dude, Obama is not a member of the CFR. John Edwards is and he will be the next president. I have to be careful when I mention the CFR or my post won't "post". If you can get a list of the members, past and present, you'll see a pattern. Clinton was a member, but I don't know if it includes Hiliary as well. If Obama wants to be pres, he'll have to find a way to be a member. Angela Jolie is a nominee for membership. Wonder why there is speculation she supports Edwards? Because they both are CRF buds.

    August 9, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Another thing you should be cautious about is this new thing the elitist are doing to your choices for president. They know the internet is shredding their hold onto you. They see the power that simple people have and the REAL candiates that are coming out with great numbers. YOU GUYS NEED TO LOOK IN YOUR HEARTS AND QUESTION WHY THE STATES ARE MOVING UP THEIR PRIMARIES.

    They say it's to have a bigger voice in choosing the nominee. That's true, because they(elitists) want to get the nominee THEY want. They know if things go as normal with the primaries, the greater the chance for the small guy to increase his candidacy. They want their guy to get the nominee while they're on top.

    You're all being run into the ground and don't even realize it yet. Better yet, you won't do anything about it either because you're all trained sheep that obey your master government.

    August 9, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Given that Bush when interviewed before he took office didn't know the name of China's Leader – I'd say Obama is right in step with the mandatory credentials for the position of President!

    August 9, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Shaleem Koch, Phoenix, AZ

    If Obama didn't know whether Mauritius has a president or prime minister is excusable. But to make a slip about a country that is our next door neighbor and biggest trading partner is troubling. Many Canadians as it is are miffed about the respect and importance we accord them.
    I love Obama. This promising rookie should be ready for presidency in a decade.

    August 9, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. C Baker Jefferson City, MO

    So when Bush made a similar gaffe, it's proof he's an idiot, but when darling Barack makes one, it's proof of how, somehow, the media is ganging up on him?
    Toughen up people.

    August 9, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Nigel Burnett, Toronto, Ontario,

    We care. The current village idiot was caught on camera agreeing to meet Prime Minister Poutine. Do you really want another president that ignorant? By the dozens of comments, it is obvious that America will continue to be truly ignorant in the eyes of the world.

    August 9, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  10. Mark, Libertyville, IL

    If someone referred to our President as the Prime Minister of the United States we WOULD go nuts. So I think it is reasonable that a Presidential candidate should at least know that our closest neighbor and friend, biggest trading partner and ally, etc. actually has a parliamentary system of government. It is a reasonable expectation

    August 10, 2007 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  11. Michael

    Obama, we forgive you because you usually talk nice. Now please start your attack on our ally Pakistan.

    August 10, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. Michael

    Obama, we forgive you because you usually speak well. Now please start your attack on our ally Pakistan.

    August 10, 2007 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. John

    There is a big difference between making a mistake and being ignorant.

    Obama is ignorant of many things that a US president cannot afford to be ignorant of.

    He knows little of world geography, know little of the US Military, or any military.

    If this guy became president he would be somebodies hand puppet and we would never know whose running the USA. He is too dumb the run it himself that is for sure.

    August 10, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Benjamin, Washington, DC

    A lot of you people are defending Obama's mistake-fair enough. However, I think if it was a Republican, you all would be lambasting him as a complete idiot (its been done with Bush several times, and not completely unfairly may I add). The point is, Obama SHOULD not be making mistakes about Canada. Canada is Illinois' main trading partner, more than 300 thousand Illinois jobs are dependent on US-Canada trade, and the city of Chicago gets hundreds of thousands of Canadian visitors every year. As Senator from Illinois, he should know these things. Then again, what has he done for Illinois? They only have one Senator now, cuz the other (Obama) is too busy campaigning for President. Doesn't it bother any of you that this man gets elected to serve the people of his state and then a year after being sworn in, decides he wants another job? A Senator from Illinois who can't even represent his own state properly and doesn't know the head of government of a major trading partner is not fit to be leader of the free world!

    God keep our land,glorious and free!
    O Canada! We stand on guard for thee!

    August 10, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. TC, Oklahoma City

    It’s amazing to me that even with the facts clearly stated, some people can still find the audacity to back HRC. It is almost as if you same people had saw her kill someone with your own eyes, watched her walk out of the room, come back in the room an deny she had ever been there, you’d doubt your own eyes.

    It’s truly disheartening to know that even when presented with the truth, one would still try and deny it. And some people wonder why America is in disarray and the world hates us.

    There is one good trend I see emerging from all the polling and news coverage that has been going on, and that is that among Americans polled with college degrees, Obama is their choice. I guess that is because they have the capacity to use there head for something other then a place for their hat.

    August 10, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Garth Wood, Calgary, Alberta

    I look forward to the day when my American brothers and sisters elect Barack Obama the Prime Minister of the United States! God Save The Queen. 😉

    August 10, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. Ed

    I agree that this was just a mistake. Candidates are only human. But if Dan Quayle or George W. Bush had made this mistake, you wouldn't hear the end of it. Obama as overrated as JFK. He is a media creation.

    August 11, 2007 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  18. Jim, New York NY

    What is interesting about Mr. Obama's mistake is that it has been categorized as just that - a mistake. However, when George Bush made a mistake regarding the name of Canada's prime minister, the media paid significant attention. A double standard.

    Regardless, U.S. leaders should be more aware of Canada, its history, and form of government. Although, judging from comments on this page, Canadians themselves are not also not particularly well-informed. HM Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, as is evident by a review of multiple Government of Canada websites, as well as the Canadian Constitution. Her pesonal representative in Canada - the Governor General - carries out the Queen's duties, but it is all done in the name of the Queen. That is why the Queen's visage appears on Canadian coins, why the name of Canadian military ships start with "HMCS" (Her Majesty's Canadian Ship), etc. "Clinton" from Montreal is either not really from Canada, or delusional.

    God Save The Queen!

    August 12, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Peter Griffin, Canada

    Hey morons, this is a big deal. In case you haven't noticed, the world isn't that fond of the USA right now... and the last thing you need is another president with no international diplomacy experience.

    The press jumped all over Bush when he screwed up country and leader names, and I'm sure most of you weren't defending him.

    August 14, 2007 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. Tom, Ontario, Canada

    Obama did not slip up. Stephen Harper is running his minority government in a very presidential style.
    Stephen Harper even ended speeches with "God Bless Canada" which mimics President Bush's "God Bless America" speech enders.

    August 14, 2007 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  21. B. Montreal, Quebec CANADA

    obviously, he made a mistake, but he should have acknowledged that it was a great mistake. As anyone should know especially our neighbours to the south we are a PARLIAMENTARY Government, therefore we have no President. But we are not insulted, we just always have a laugh at the social gaffes that so called educated Americans so publicly like to display. I wonder why no one is flying off the handle here in Canada, as they are doing so in the states? This is an election campaign, look for real issues to discuss amongst yourselves about the platforms, leave the laughing at the candidates for their misspoken words to us, we always enjoy it! P.S. WE LOVE Mrs. Clinton, send her to us she can run for PM!

    August 14, 2007 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  22. John, Vancouver, British Columbia

    I like Obama, but he should know that the elected Head of Gov't in Canada is called a Prime Minister. Surely this is fundamental knowledge, especially someone that comes from the Great Lakes. I'm certain he doesn't know the name of our PM, let alone that our head of state is the Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II. His inexperience is shining through and therefore I think you'll fine many Canadians supporting Hillary.

    God Save The Queen.

    August 15, 2007 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
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