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. Dave, Illinois

    To all you people who gripe about our jobs going overseas:

    When you were in Walmart last time and saved a buck buying an item made in China versus the US, did you think about those American workers then? Where was your car made? The reason the jobs are going overseas is due to cheaper labor and Americans don't want to pay for American-made products which are more expensive because labor costs are higher here.

    The Democrats blame Bush for jobs going offshore. They blame Nafta. This is the same old typical, take-no-reponsibility-for-your-actions, Democrat line. Obama, a new kind of politician? Yeah, right!

    July 1, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. James, SC

    Wait, wait let's import everything free of tax and allow everyone in every other country to tax our goods.

    The American people are STUPID. They want to give all their money the big corp. while selling every piece of America available. Then when our economy tanks, they want to blame the politicians and NOT hold them accountable.

    Worst yet, they turn around and vote in the same politicians that caused the problems we have.

    Yep, you are right. Better to have someone we know will hurt us than a new person who hasn't hurt us. That way we can blame someone when things go wrong again. IDIOTS!!

    July 1, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Giovanni

    Also Obama is kinda coming out for free trade now that the primary is over. NYT: "For Obama: a Pragmatic shift to the Center on Free Trade"

    July 1, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  4. Montana is Obama Country

    ...********* FREE ********* ....... TRADE... is an OXYMORON....

    July 1, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Jim

    Speaking of Free Trade,

    Why isn't the US pushing India to accept Walmart In India? India is very against Walmart in India because they say it will ruin the tradition of the India markets.

    They can take our jobs with our government handing it to them on a silver plater, but they won't accept an American company like Walmart because it will ruin their way of life! It's the fault of our government that Free Trade is so unfair such as this!! I trust you McCain, to continue to ruin the American way of life by allowing this to happen!

    July 1, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Michele, Oregon

    One small thing we can do now is to buy "free trade" coffee which is a win-win situation for the local people, the environment, and to consumers here as it is grown free of chemicals, under existing natural forest canopy, and processed naturally.

    Free trade is O.K. if it enacts accountability: environmental standards (such as not using pesticides that we have banned here and sound planting practices which do not harm the environment), worker standards, dignity to the indigenous peoples (making friends abroad rather than exploiting them and turning them into future terrorists).

    The problem is that I do not believe John McCain or the Republicans are concerned about these things when they speak of free trade.

    July 1, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  7. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Nothing in life is "free" so get your check book out and write that bogus check.

    July 1, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. James, SC


    If a 60% tax increase improves education, health care, and the over-all quality of life in America, then come get my money. Else, tell the truth and admit that there is NO such 60% increase in taxes in the Obama plan. You are a LIAR and an ignorant person!

    July 1, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. Jeff - Illinois

    When he says "Free Trade" he really means "harming America's workers".

    July 1, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. Phil, FL

    Giovanni – I think Obama said free trade agreements need modifications to keep up with changing times.


    July 1, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. Lisa

    Obama and Clinton do not have 95% of the same policies and I wish everyone would stop saying that.

    Hillary wants Universal Health Care for everyone, Obama does not.
    Hillary wants the American People to save on gas this summer, Obama does not.

    Obama is scared to debate Hillary is not!!!!

    July 1, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |

    I understand that free trade is a net gain for the U.S. despite lost manufacturing jobs, but why is McCain unwilling to even sit down and renegociate the agreement? I dont really understand his logic on this one...Ignorance? To old to care? Low priority? Why cant McCain just admit that Barack has won this round and jump onboard to consider re-doing NAFTA?

    July 1, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. No more free trade

    All free trade has done for us is shift U.S Companies to move their industries to foreign soil for the tax breaks, cheap labor with the knowledge of sending their tainted products to the U.S. where people and animals get sick from using them.

    July 1, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. Loretta from California

    Please tell me how our free trade agreements are creating jobs here at home?


    July 1, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Phil

    McCain is on the wrong side of the war and foreign policy, wrong side of energy, wrong side of fiscal responsibility (national debt and deficit), wrong side of healthcare, wrong side of taxes... may as well get o the wrong side of free trade too. Geesh... and some people still think this guy is electable?

    July 1, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Shelly in IL

    Most people should know most companies are going overseas because they want bigger tax breaks and to pay workers lower wages. Any common fool can figure that one out. Republicans are all for the wealthy and don't care about the little people.

    I know you may not post this CNN, but I will give it a try anyway.

    July 1, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    this is yet another example of how completely out of touch mccain is with the majority of americans--it would be hilarious how off mccain is if it werent so dangerous a time for this country!!!

    mcCON is just like his BFF bush, the most unpopular, greedy, and criminal president in U.S. history!

    i'm starting to think that the republican strategy is to LOSE this election, b/c they know what a disastrous mess bush has made of everything and how hard it will be for PResident Obama to clean it all up.

    July 1, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Cynthia

    And you all plan to vote for McCain – you may have a job, maybe even a good job, but think of the people who don't because their jobs were sent overseas somewhere. When the least of us don't have.

    July 1, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. Clinton, no, wait, McCain Supporter

    Today Ford Motor Company announced its sales are off a whopping 28 per cent.

    I rest my case.

    July 1, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. It's a done deal

    Buh-bye McCain

    July 1, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. Aaron Williams

    NAFTA, CAFTA, and all the rest, has done nothing but exploit the third world for the global corporation's off shore revenues, and destroyed American manufacturing and industry. Go to a local community college, every program is criminal justice or homeland security. If you don't like arresting poor people, or building missiles, you better get ready for the New World Order.

    July 1, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. L

    You think china and India care about what we think about free trade. they are growing so fast and will soon be supplying the world with cheap goods and services. So why would a company want to keep staff in the states, or buy expensive US goods, when it can all be done cheaper abroad.

    You nee free trade in this day and age to keep the markets flowing freely and in America's favour.

    July 1, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. David

    So now millions of American consumers are supposed to purchase inferior products from inferior American manufacturers. And that's supposed to HELP our economy???

    July 1, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    and since when are TOWN HALLS held at private businesses? doesnt that kinda defeat the whole purpose of a TOWN HALL MEETING with the regular folks????

    anyone who thinks mccain is for the people is seriously deluded and gullible!

    let alone in a business that is being investigated for unfair labor practices...oh wait, okay, now i see why mccain is doing it there. it makes perfect sense that Mr. Free Trade would hold his "town hall" jokes at Worth.

    mccain and his straight talk express are both FRAUDS!!!! the guy's a disaster, he's a flip-flopping LIAR!!!!!!!!!

    July 1, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. ConsDemo

    Compared to what? If people oppose free trade then, by definition, they favor more protectionism.

    Sorry, because many people believe in protectionist fantasies doesn't make it so. The last time this country gave up on free trade and put up trade barriers, the descent into the Great Depression was greatly accerlerated.

    "All free trade has done for us is shift U.S Companies to move their industries to foreign soil for the tax breaks,"

    That statement is simply baloney. Had we had high trade barriers, the person who wrote that comment might not have been able to afford the computer he or she is using.


    July 1, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9