(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