March 20th, 2008
12:50 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama adviser: Clinton misled voters on NAFTA

(CNN) - A senior adviser to the Obama campaign said Thursday that newly-released White House records reveal that Hillary Clinton had misled voters on what her position on NAFTA had been when she was First Lady, and said the incident raises serious questions about how she would “treat the truth” as president.

The New York senator “owes an apology to the people of this country," said Obama adviser David Axelrod, on a Thursday conference call with reporters.

“This is a question of political character,” he said, adding that voters “have to wonder if this was one of the reasons she was reluctant to get these records out there on a timely basis.”

The Obama campaign has used the release of Clinton’s White House schedules Wednesday – which showed her attending NAFTA strategy meetings in advance of its approval by Congress – to suggest that Clinton had not been telling the truth to voters, and that she was a “vocal supporter of NAFTA.”

The trade agreement became a major issue in the closing days of the Ohio campaign, as the Clinton campaign highlighted a Canadian news report that an Obama adviser had privately assured officials from that country that the Illinois senator’s rhetoric did not match his intended policy on that issue if he were to be elected president, and contrasted that with what they said was Clinton’s own consistent position against NAFTA. Clinton won the March 4 Ohio primary.

The Clinton campaign sent a release to reporters Thursday highlighting what they said were myths surrounding Clinton’s position on NAFTA. Shortly after the Obama conference call, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer sent reporters a statement that sought to re-direct attention back to the Canadian report, adding that “The fact is that independent accounts make clear that Senator Clinton did not support NAFTA and that she is the candidate Americans can trust to fix it.”

There are differing accounts of Clinton’s position on the issue when she was First Lady. The records released yesterday indicate that she attended several NAFTA strategy sessions in 1993.

UPDATE: CNN's Peter Hamby reports that when asked whether she should have handled the issue differently in light of schedules that showed she supported NAFTA, Clinton told a group of reporters Thursday afternoon that "I don’t think that’s what you can infer" from the release of the schedules.

"I have spoken consistently against NAFTA and the way its been implemented," she said, again pointing to reports on alleged conversations between Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee and the Canadian government.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Common Sense

    Buh bye hillary you lying piece of garbage... your kind have poisoned politics and america long enough. facts dont lie, and they have you on paper, which is slightly more than "myth" you manipulative, power hungry wench.

    March 20, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Adam FL

    Deperately sending the negative attacks to the press.. Does this help the party? No, this helps Obama- based on how it is reported.

    He is trying to attack her for attending meetings on nafta 15 years ago. So he can not say- she lacks the experiance she claims, if he is going to also say its enough experiance to attack it. Hypocryte.

    It also does not delve into what these meeting were about, what was said, the fact is she was the first lady, and it was an issue being pressed through her husbands office. She had to attend meetings on NAFTA.

    Desperate negative attacks, I bet the Obama campaign has teams set up for different page numbers to do nothing but highlight anything negative. Maybe when they all get done reading they will finally believe her when she says she has more experiance then someone we dont even have public documentation for back then.

    Hillary Clinton

    March 20, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Rei for Hillary

    OBAMA'S campaign is deploying the "Kitchen Sink" strategy throwing anything out there to get everyone focused off the fact that his candidate LIED to the american people about what he said he he may or may not have heard sitting in the Pews of his church in Chicago.

    Do the records reveal what was said at these Strategy meetings?? No! There have been independent accounts from people who said she was very much against NAFTA privately, but if her husband was supporting it - she wasn't present and couldn't publicly appear to undermind his position.

    This is CRAP from the Obama Campaign and they know it. They're the ones who made promises to the Canadians.. not the Clinton campaign.

    March 20, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. Will, CA

    It is pretty funny how CNN waits until the very end of the article to report that Clinton's records actually prove she pushed for NATFA. Normally you would expect cold-hard facts to precede the "he-say-she-say" of the 2 campaigns.

    In any case, I bet a bunch Ohio voters feeling pretty bad. You guys got duped by the Clintons.

    March 20, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. Lioness

    Hillary lies like the sun rises. That is the only contant with her.

    I wonder how many people in Ohio will want their votes back when they read this.

    March 20, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. Adam

    I cant stand Obama. He needs to just DROP OUT NOW!!

    March 20, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. annie

    AND ABC NEWS reports Mrs. Clinton spoke w/ Business women PUSHING and telling THEM NAFTA would be "good for the ECONOMY"!
    Hows THAT for JUDGMENT!

    March 20, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Alice in Fort Myers

    Awww, all the Obabies are crying. Look, Obama shot HIMSELF in the foot – with a little help from his ranting raving racist looney uncle. In addition, the great DIVIDER is a LIAR who talks out of both sides of his mouth.


    It's not OK for Florida and Michigan to break the rules, but it's OK for the DNC to break their own rules and allow the Super Delegates to vote early because Obama thinks he might gain an advantage there. (Though how he could possibly think that is beyond me – the Democratic Party does want to win, and Obama at this point is unelectable in the GE thanks to his own stupidity.)

    The whole NAFTA mess where he told Canada, "Shucks, I was just kidding – you know how politics is." – I find it INCREDIBLE that he's trying to attack Hillary on this OF ALL THINGS!

    Iraq – he's against it, but he would go back there – ??????????

    First he says he'll meet with our enemies, then after Hillary gives him a better answer, he decides, "Oh, not unless they make concessions first."

    And my personal favorite – the one that buried him for good: "I never heard my pastor say that." "Oh, well I was there when he said controversial things."

    March 20, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. MinOR

    "Election by election, state by stae, precinct by precinct, door by door, vote by vote...we're going to lift our party up and take this country back for the people who built it."

    Governer Howard Dean

    I guess he forgot to say “except Florida and Michigan voters” when he made that statement.


    March 20, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. justobserve

    Oh, really? I thought Bill signed NAFTA and Hill didn't say "I have spoken consistently against NAFTA and the way its been implemented" in south Texas to get Latinos votes.

    March 20, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |