July 1st, 2008
12:19 PM ET
13 years ago

In challenge to McCain, majority against free trade

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/01/art.mccainpoll.ap.jpg caption=" McCain tours the Worth and Company factory in Pipersville, Pennsylvania, Monday."]

(CNN) - As John McCain prepares to promote the advantages of free trade during a high-profile trip to Colombia and Mexico, a poll released Tuesday suggests the issue may pose a political hurdle for the Arizona senator as the general election campaign heats up.

According to the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 51 percent of the Americans questioned view foreign trade as a threat to the economy - the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of respondents report holding negative views on free trade.

Read full poll results [PDF]

That compares to only 35 percent of those asked who felt that free trade posed a threat to the economy in 2000, and 48 percent who felt it was a threat in 2006.

Now only four in 10 the Americans questioned say free trade presents an opportunity for economic growth, a sentiment that clearly makes the issue a challenge for McCain, especially in the crucial Rust Belt states most affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs over the last decade.

Election Center: Check out where McCain, Obama stand on trade

"It's possible that John McCain's decision to highlight his free-trade position may wind up losing him some votes among Americans who feel threatened economically by competition from other countries," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Recent polls in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan have shown McCain well behind Barack Obama. Calling attention to his stand on an issue like trade may be a part of the problems he apparently faces in those Midwestern states."

Full story

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. cnn won't post this

    Why is this not new: McCain who confused sunnis and shiites is doing it again with somalia and sudan

    July 1, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Raymond Duke

    Free trade the way it is now is worth nothing to the united states worker. It only helps the corporate people. You have to put in barriers were needed and get a fair deal on the reeiving end. McCain needs to back up and take another look at this issue.

    July 1, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Tara, Elmira NY

    why not give up free trade he has flip flopped on everything else., but he never flip flops when it comes to big business...just the American people. Mr. McCain you are right we can trust you.. to be for big business and not for regular Americans. Why in the world would you be in other countries talking about trade agreements that seem to have only benefited them when American's are struggling... Shame on you !!!!!!

    July 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. East Coast Bum

    Once again John Mcbush is on the wrong side. I am an Obama sheep(supporter) and we all know free trade is killing our country. Ask anyone in China how much a ford costs. The way I see things, Mexico and our northern firends can go you know what. I am worried about my country, not what is good for Mexico and god know;s what other county.

    John mcbush is in the pockets of people who care not for this country, just what profit they can make from it. The GOP is a very outdated party.

    July 1, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Nicole in NE

    Free trade is good to a point, but if we are outsourcing all these jobs – even more in the last 5 – 10 years, it does not help us at all. India and China have benifited the most of this. We need more American jobs to stay here.

    Obama 08'

    July 1, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Puffin

    Well, there are good things and bad things about free trade.

    But the fact is that is not all that 'free'.

    July 1, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. Bishop

    "I understand it's very tough. But for me to give up my advocacy of free trade would be a betrayal of trust," he told reporters Tuesday. "And the most precious commodity I have with the American people is that they trust me."

    No McCain you would look like a flip-flopper. Now if you just say to the American people what Sen. Obama has said you'd be alright. Free Trade is AWESOME, however, heavy regulations must be implemented. By clinging to your guns you just show people that you are a puppet. You jumped on the drilling bandwagon when it was in your favor, but now what??? Now you are stuck...

    I can't wait to hear what Lars "the idiot" Larson has to say about this and what "spin" is he going to pick...

    Good luck...

    July 1, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Tim

    There's nothing wrong with free trade if it really existed. If the the playing field was even, without subsidies or tarriffs on all sides, it would be legitimate. This is not the case.

    July 1, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. Marcus B

    I think McCain just needs to re-evaluate his stance. He is so worried about being called a flip-flopper, that he is willing to cut off his nose to spite his face. And if he is going to push free trade, it shouldn't be where the American worker in MOST affected by it! Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are the LAST places he should be advocating NAFTA. This shows that he is not a smart campaigner, and would be a terrible President, as he is so willing to stick with awful policies. We can have free trade, but considering the fact that we live in the United States of America, it needs to protect the AMERICAN worker.

    July 1, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. JoeMamma

    "And the most precious commodity I have with the American people is that they trust me."

    Sorry McLieberCain, you lost our trust when you tried to give AMNESTY and citizenship to millions of criminal illegal aliens.

    Your commodity is spoiled.

    Republican for anybody but McLieberCain '08

    July 1, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. JimBlanco

    51% of CNN's communist viewers can't be wrong... until we are all paying 60% taxes to Obama's social programs for the irretrievably lazy!

    July 1, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. Phil, FL

    Hmmm – he's off to more foreign countries – looks like he doesn't care what US Citizens think or want.

    Maybe we should vote for someone that cares about OUR jobs and being able to provide for OUR families.

    July 1, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. literacy is for loosers

    Clinton Supporter July 1st, 2008 12:04 pm ET
    "To Literacy is for Loosers:

    I do think I could muster a lot more anger next time. Actually, this time I thought it was kind of funny. But I will try to be angrier in the future.

    Thanks for the tip!"

    … … uh huh. No problem. The fact that you want to laugh, scorn, and hate is just weak. You think it's making a point and making you look tough or mature, but frankly, it makes you either look like a disgruntled adolescent or a terr'rist.

    You're only making yourself look bad, you know. So you actually think there is common sense to what you're saying right now? Typical hate-baiting with no grounding in rationality. C'mon, hit me with another one! I can't wait to read it. I yearn for your words.

    July 1, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. USAF Staff Sergeant

    McCain: "And the most precious commodity I have with the American people is that they trust me."

    Yeah right..... what American people?

    July 1, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. T GUY


    July 1, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. Alex in TX

    Although I am a Obama supporter, I differ on this point.

    It's typical for the American public to look for blame as to the problems we face. The fact of the matter is that our economy is in such horrid shape because of lack of leadership in corporate america and government. All the banks and mortgage lenders who falsified records and more should be in prison but most won't. The government has failed to let busiensses fail. If a company is run by a corrupt or inept management team, then the company must die. We cannot bail out bad decisions by bad managers. For an economy to succeed, there must be dire consequences for bad decisions including letting banks/mortgage lenders/airlines and others fail.

    Free trade isn't the problem. How it's structured could be improved, however lack of true leadership is the real problem.

    July 1, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. Frank from Peterborough

    With globalization there certainly has to be fair and equitable trading guidelines but unfortunately the right wing agenda isn't concerned with fair and equitable but more about higher profits for the corporate elite who sponsor their party.

    There isn't any way possible for countries like Canada and the U.S. to trade on a level playing field with 3rd world countries who have no labour or environmental standards. Anyone who believes the corporations have to make obscene profits to create local employment is simply brainwashed beyond belief.

    July 1, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. post this

    John McCain misspoke and confused his African countries while talking to reporters on the Straight Talk Express today. This time, he was bailed out not by Joe Lieberman, but by his close aide Mark Salter. "How can we bring pressure on the government of Somalia?" McCain asked, which prompted Mark Salter to correct him. "Sudan," Salter said. "Sudan," McCain repeated.

    July 1, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  19. Clinton, no, wait, McCain Supporter

    Welcome to The Flat Earth Society.

    Who thinks free trade is a choice? This is 2008, folks. Bill Clinton gave you free trade because it is absolutely unavoidable. American industry, like the auto industry, should smarten up or be completely wiped out.

    Someone once said, "When the US government institutes new safety standards, the Japanese hire 100 new engineers and the American auto industry hires 100 new lawyers."

    That, my friends, is the root of our problems. We have the ingenuity to get it done and compete, but we are arrogant and lazy as a nation. It will be our undoing. It already is.

    July 1, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. Oops

    Just goes to show you how out of touch this man is. He does not understand economics at all.

    July 1, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  21. Phil, FL

    Trust? I don't trust him 2 feet. Or even at all.

    He's a liar – trust? NO

    July 1, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Debbie

    I'm tired of watching our jobs go to Mexico, China, and India.

    Now McCain's telling us to open our doors to Colombia.
    Maybe McCain should fire his top adviser Black. After all, Black was a lobbyist for Colombia and the oil companies until earlier this year.

    Doesn't McCain realize Black has made millions selling out on US workers.

    No to Colombia and no to any candidate who sells US jobs to other countries.

    July 1, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Joyce

    I heard McCain talking today about getting tough on internet crimes involving children and predators, etc. HOW can an old man who doesn't even know how to use the internet plan to lead the fight against it. Get real. In this day and age, anyone who is computer illiterate is not fit to lead!

    July 1, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. Economists

    It's absolutely asinine of those participating in this poll to say that Free Trade Agreements are a bad thing for the economy, when every major macro-economic indicator relative to NAFTA points towards growth and benefit. Additionally, over 90% of economists believe that NAFTA has been good for the U.S. economy and will continue to be good in the future. Guess who knows better: Economists or Average Joe Schlep?

    July 1, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. McSameMcCain on myspace

    So John, when are you going to tell Bush NOT to invade Iran? Probably never because Bush, with your support, is going to invade Iran and you hope it will lead to you getting elected. You should be ashamed. You are not a hero and never have been. You are not qualified to be Commander in Chief. Knowing your track record, you'll cheat on this country, and divorce us for someone richer in a heart beat. You can't change your spots and getting yourself shot down in Viet Nam doesn't change that.

    July 1, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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