March 3rd, 2008
03:44 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama camp downplays conversation with Canada

 Obama's campaign downplayed an economic advisor's conversation with a Canadian official.
Obama's campaign downplayed an economic advisor's conversation with a Canadian official.

(CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign manager downplayed reports Monday an economic advisor discussed the Illinois senator's position on NAFTA with a Canadian official, characterizing the meeting as an "informal" discussion not under the direction of the campaign.

"This is being reported as if somehow this is an official meeting of an Obama representative and the Canadian government," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in a conference call with reporters. "That was not the case. He was essentially doing a walking tour and was essentially having a casual conversation and the report on that conversation was not accurate. "

The meeting was first reported last week by Canadian television network CTV. The report referenced anonymous sources that said one of Obama's chief economic advisors, Austan Goolsbee, said the candidate was only talking tough on NAFTA for political reasons, and would likely not seek to change the trade agreement with Canada if he became president. Both Obama's campaign and the Canadian embassy immediately denied Goolsbee had ever made such a suggestion, and did not reveal Goolsbee had ever spoken with the Canadian government.

But the Associated Press reported Monday it had obtained a memo from a Canadian diplomat essentially confirming CTV's story and stating Goolsbee said Obama's tough talk on NAFTA was "more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."

Goolsbee denied Monday he ever made such a suggestion, and the Canadian embassy issued a statement saying there was it had "no intention to convey, in any way, that Senator Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private.

“The Canadian Embassy and our Consulates General regularly contact those involved in all of the Presidential campaigns and, periodically, report on these contacts to interested officials. In the recent report produced by the Consulate General in Chicago, there was no intention to convey, in any way, that Senator Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private, including about NAFTA. We deeply regret any inference that may have been drawn to that effect.

Plouffe told reporters Monday that the Clinton campaign was pushing the story as part of their so-called "kitchen sink" strategy.

"We understand we are in the closing days of a campaign here and the Clinton Campaign is trying to make a lot of this and I think in some part, heel their own problems on their NAFTA positioning," Plouffe said. "This is part of the kitchen sink campaign the Clinton campaign telegraphed last week. They're throwing anything and everything out there to try to revive their flailing campaign."

UPDATE: Speaking with reporters Monday, Obama said he was unaware Goolsbee had met with a Canadian official.

"It turned out that the Canadian consulate in Chicago contacted one of my advisers, Austan Goolsbee, on their own initiative, invited him down to meet with him, he went down there as a courtesy," Obama said. "And at some point they started talking about trade and NAFTA, and the Canadian embassy has confirmed that he said exactly what I've been saying on the campaign trail, which is that I believe in trade, but it's important for us to have labor/environmental standards that are enforceable."

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (493 Responses)
  1. jade

    he ditto heads, the canadian CONSERVATIVE govt., like Rush "pigman" Limbugger, is doing what they can to get Hillary to run, so McCain can beat her.

    suckers.

    March 3, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. Asian's from Obama to Hillary

    The more I had upclose and personal with Obama, the more I do not trust him. He's fraud! He's talker! He's two faced!

    Be a real Man. Tell the truth!

    March 3, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  3. Grif

    In a "Word" . Cheat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 3, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  4. Matt NC

    How does anyone come to the conclusion that the Clinton Campaign is pushing this story? Obama is not a Saint nor is he an Earth Angel sent by God. He is capable of making mistakes like everyone else. So, why can't the Obama supporters stop blaming negative press on the Clinton campaign. This is absolutely crazy. This man is not the answer that America is hoping for. I personally think that the Obama supporters are beginning to realize that the Dream that Obama has been talking about for almost a year is about to awaken to the reality of a nightmare- He is a FAKE.

    March 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  5. grace babcock

    Has anyone figured out how many of Sen. Obamas senatorial and high profile superdelagates voted for the war? Just a thought. Hillary did not do it all by herself. Grace B Poetland Maine

    March 3, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. OBAMA4LIARS

    OBAMA IS A LIAR...OBAMA IS A LIAR>>>FINALLY THE IDIOT GETS EXPOSED>>TYPICAL

    March 3, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  7. Arni, Austin,TX

    I want to know if Goolsbee was acting on behalf of Obama? Is Obama committing to those words that he WILL renegotiate NAFTA?

    I thought it thowing all in kitchen sink. This looks like sink is being thrown at Obama!

    Politics at lowest ebb. Disgusted at this. If Hillary will primary, I will vote McCain.

    Go Obama!

    March 3, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. CHERYL

    I LIVED IN CANADA FOR TWO YEARS.

    THE CANADIANS ARE GOOD HONEST PEOPLE!

    THEY WOULD NEVER BUY INTO HIS CRAP EH!

    March 3, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  9. CHERYL

    THE BOTTOM IS ABOUT TO FALL OUT OF THIS WHOLE FARCE!

    THE SOONER THE BETTER!!!!!!!!!

    March 3, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  10. OBAMA4LIARS

    LIAR LIAR LIAR...TEXAS Latinos

    March 3, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. Virginia

    I wouldn't be surprised if someone from the Clinton camp planned this whole NAFTA fisaco. The Clinton camp will not stop even when the facts are clear . Truly, she can only run on a kitchen run campaign. That has been obvious since Obama has gained momentum.

    I trust the American people are smarter and tired of the politics of hate.

    Now she is a qualified president for sure, but definitely not a president that America needs right now to unify the country. There are more people that hate her than the anti-Obama's. There are more people inspired by Obama than Hillary. There are more young votes involved for Obama than Hillary.

    Go OBAMA '08

    March 3, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  12. CHERYL

    IS THIS WHY BORACK LOOKS SO BAD IN THIS PICTURE?

    HE LOOKS BEATEN DOWN!!!!!!!!!

    GO SENATOR CLINTON!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 3, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. concern citizen

    Hillary talks about the entire situation as proof that Obama is all talk and no action. Obama is saying one thing to voters and having closed meeting with Canada saying something different. However, she has flip flopped many times. She told the people in Ohio she was aganist NAFTA and there were quotes from interviews and books that contridicted her statements in which she supported NAFTA. She stated that she voted for the war based on the evidence presented to her. Jay Rockafella who is a member of the senate intelligence committee stated she did not read the document before she voted for the war. This is horrible. How could she have based her vote on evidence when she did not read the documents with the so call evidence? Is this the type of leadership the country wants in which a candidate does not read information before voting for war? This should be discussed in the media.

    March 3, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    That is the problem with Barack Obama, he downplays everything; and, so far, the media is letting him get away with it.

    From Rezco to Nafta he never has to answer for anything.

    I saw a recent Faux News gathering of Obama supporters, none of them could name anything he has accomplished, or any of his positions on anything. They all said they support him "because we like him"...the same thing George Bush supporter's named.

    We have had almost 8 years of a not qualified President, can we afford 4 more?

    The media needs to act like journalists again and peel the onion. There are layers and layers of Obama to uncover.

    Get busy!

    March 3, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  15. 4Hillary

    CNN – Please Post ~ Important Endorsments

    ~Two Former Admirals Endorse Senator Clinton~ 3/2/08
    Senator Clinton today is proud to announce the endorsement of two distinguished, retired admirals, Vice Admiral Donald C. Arthur and Rear Admiral Stuart F. Platt. They join an eminent group of 30 retired admirals and generals who have endorsed Senator Clinton to be our nation’s next Commander-in-Chief.

    Many of our nation’s most distinguished military officers stand proudly with Hillary Clinton because they believe that she has the strength, experience and leadership necessary to be President and Commander-in-Chief. They include five former general and flag officers at the rank of four stars, including two former chairmen and one vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition, more than 2,000 veterans and military retirees are members of Senator Clinton's national and state veterans’ steering committees.

    Adding 2 more to the list ....GOOO HILLARY!!!!

    March 3, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  16. Patrick

    To all the Obama followers… PLEASE USE YOUR INTELLIGENCE AND READ THE REPORT ABOVE!

    IT DOES NOT SAY HILLARY'S CAMPAIGN IS MAKING IT UP, IT SAY's A CANADIAN TV (since CNN, MSNBC, FOX are drooling over Obama)
    Reported this. The AP obtained a memo today that was sent to Canadian officials after the meeting took place that highlights all the talking points fot he meeting!! Hillary has every right to request that he come clean!! The American people have every right to know whether he is making side deals with other countries. No wonder he was attacking Hillary on this….LOL he thought he had it all worked out!!

    OHIO, TEXAS, RHODE ISLAND, & VERMONT HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT THIS "SIDE DEAL".

    Goo Hillary!!!

    March 3, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  17. Shelby08

    Obama Take the High Road, Right! Its seems your campaign manager, David Plouffe, can do all your dirty work for you. Your campaign has gone very negative against Sen. Clinton it's just done by David Plouffe, not you, right? Sen. Clinton didn't come up with this story, nor has the Clinton campaign pushed it. I heard it first this morning on CNN and they seem to favor Obama in their reporting. But, by all means, explain away what was actually said by your representatives. I would like clarity from the Obama camp on any issue. I'm sure the voters in Ohio would too!,

    It's Time For The Right Change! Hillary 08

    March 3, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  18. Ayyub, Richmond, Va

    AY! Clinton News Network, Hillary is not going to beat the GOP just ask Limbaugh.

    March 3, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
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