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. Nova from NV

    McCain the maverick is not afraid to make tough choices even if it means not getting elected! He has the best interest of the country in heart and is a very courageous man. Obama on the other hand will do what the polls say just to get elected. Obama only thinks of himself and his party.

    July 1, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Bob Stephens

    It is very simple for McCain. When he talks to a crowd that doesn't like free trade, he will just tell them he "doesn't like it either". If it is a pro free trade crowd, he will tell them he is for it. He does this all the time, without even blinking. Like when he took credit the other day for education for vets in the new GI Bill, when in fact, he voted against it. That is why he is called, " Weather Vane McCain"... He will tell you anything you want to hear.

    July 1, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. JimBlanco

    Phil, FL

    I think Obama says whatever will serve his interests at that particularly point in time. Obama is constantly changing his positions from day to day in order to pander to whatever audience he is addressing. The only "Change" in his campaign is his free-ride to attack his detractors as racists when they point out his inconsistencies.

    July 1, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Anita from Arizona

    Neither candidate has to power to change the mentality of corporations, GREED. There are too many who don't care, dont know, or both. We're all guilty of being greedy, but the key is to be committed and have some loyalty to our nation. Reward the companies who stay here, create jobs, educate their employees and help this countries economy as a whole. Punish the ones who left or sell the majority of their product overseas, because in essence they sold us all out for profit.

    July 1, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Da Kine in Hawaii

    Free trade is supposed to foster economic cooperation between member countries - yes, that's true. It's supposed to level off the playing field. Perhaps? But to support it when your economy is in shambles?

    All this time Americans have been given the short end of the stick. We've been losing jobs, forced to make do with what we have. We're already in the hole and any FT agreement will only cause us to dig that hole deeper.

    Until FT can provide economic benefits to the Americans, we shouldn't even go there.

    Now, for him to sing "Bomb Iran" on YouTube – that takes the cake. No more Republicans in the White House.

    July 1, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. ashley

    East Coast Bum July 1st, 2008 12:28 pm ET

    "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."

    This is why I don't like Obama....do you know how sheep behave? they blindly follow in line with what the sheep in front of them do. If you put something on the ground that sheep would have to jump over and then put the sheep in a line....they would jump over it and even when you removed the thing they needed to jump over...the ones behind follow what the ones did in front and continue to jump even when there is nothing there! Please don't be blind like sheep. Personally I don't like either candidate but Mccain is the lesser of the two evils.

    July 1, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Erik on Wall St.

    If you want to impact Free Trade then vote with your dollars – stop buying cheap Made in China junk at K-Mart and buy American or European quality goods. The problem here is that we have a whole country of cheap folks that want to buy $10 coffee makers at Wal-Mart.

    Vote with your dollars folks!

    July 1, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. ED FL

    It is a shame that John Mccain finds it necessary to grovel in the mud with people in politics that have NOTHING in it but an attempt to get elected for self and their egos. I spent 22 yrs in the Navy with Many Mccains ,jones etc. why should someone who has earned the honor and glory jump in the Crap with folks who cannot prove themselves any other way. I can't and will not vote for any Republican ever as they have proven over the years that americas youth mean nothing to a war mongering cowardly right wing. John you are one of those and you do not needit or deserve it but you are asking for this garbage so take it like you did as a pow and say or do something honorable that re flects you and not a group who are throwing you under the bus and hope to try again in 2012. GO HOME YOU HAVE EARNED IT{and WHILE STILL HONORED.

    July 1, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. Unbalanced is not balanced

    Free trade for the U.S.A. would be fine IF it accomplished what it was intended to do. It seems that over the past decade or so more and more U.S. corporations have moved their production overseas, leaving only the dislocation of U.S. workers behind as it is difficult for those lower skilled individuals to retrain themselves and to try to find employment in other industries. This is especially true now that the industries that they could possibly have gotten into have themselves moved their operations out of this country and have left their workers permanently unemployed. (Note: The numbers of the unemployed that are no longer receiving unemployment benefits are never quoted in the governments unemployment figures).

    The corporations are looking out for their best interests, our Government is looking out to those who have the deepest pockets and the American people are the ones to suffer the most.

    The scales are definitely tipped against us.

    July 1, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Proud American

    No McCain we've lost enough jobs thanks to you and the Republicans!!! McCain=Bush!!!

    July 1, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Ian

    Like John McCain cares what we want anyway.

    July 1, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. tony

    Listen–
    Why don't we stop engaging in smear–
    Most of you who support Obama support change and hope–( I quess we will get those definitions eventually ) but if you truly support his "NEW POLITICS " then why do you continous engage in smearing John McCain who endured more than all of you in a POW Camp and if nothing else-Certainly has more than enough character to get many votes–
    THis is where Clark and most of you don't get it !!!
    It's all about character-
    THis is the true reason why Obama does not want to confront that issue-He can't compare in that arena–NO FOreign or Int'l Experience–
    Whether you vote McCain or Obama let's respect the strengths and let the weaknesses show on both –make our decision and move on–

    July 1, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. gary

    I imagine the people(who are used to being overpaid for the job they perform)would be scared of global competition in manufacturing.The simple truth is,this country can no longer afford companies to pay unskilled laborers $25.00 an hour to mount one piece with screws or rivets onto a manufactured part.We have finally gotten to the point where overblown pay scales will no longer be acceptable in manufacturing of any kind.Unions are no longer necessary and are straining the U.S. employers with pay scales that aren't in line with the rest of the world.Grow up America,step into the 21st century where the job difficulty or expertise needed is how pay scales will be based from now on,in other words, get training or education in order to make more of a paycheck,unskilled and uneducated people will life hard very soon.

    July 1, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Saad from NJ

    This is tough one. I feel bad for McCain. On one hand, our people are suffering so much that pacts like these seem so hurtful. ON the other hand, you can't ignore the fact that the world is operating in a more 'global economy' environment than ever before that these pacts are necessary to stay afloat. It is indeed a tough situation and a hard sell, either way.

    July 1, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. Erik on Wall St.

    'Clinton, no, wait, McCain Supporter 'what's your point?!?! That's because of the price of gas and the fact that we learned NOTHING since the Arab Oil Crisis of the 70s - nothing to do with Free Trade. No administrations have held the darn car manufacturers accountable for better mileage standards and we got lazy. So too bad for Ford and those that are crying now because of the price of gas. Stop buying thos big junkers if you're feeling the pinch of gas prices!

    July 1, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Matt-NE

    Problem is, many see 'Free Trade' as something Republicans support, when really, it is pushed more by democrats as being fair to poor countries and helping them flourish, then they point the finger at corporations and blame them for being greedy.

    If Obama modifies any 'Free Trade' agreement, it will be in favor of other countries, and not the U.S.A.

    He already thinks we all have too much.

    July 1, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Franky

    Poor, poor NAFTA.......ohhh well, they shouldv'e seen this coming...

    July 1, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Carl, Atlanta

    Free traade IS a threat to the American economy and the American worker. SInce Bush took office, more than 2,000,000 jobs have been moved offshore and more are going every day. It's time to reverse this. Tree trade is just a euphamism for getting richer by screwing Americans and exploiting cheap foreign workers. Businessmen and investors will deny this, but they are simply liars.

    July 1, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. Dave in Houston

    Free trade with countries that have labor and environmental standards that we do are fine. That would be free trade with Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan and South Korea. There may also be some other countries like Brazil, Chile, Israel, South Africa for which our trade deals are similar.

    Having "free trade" with countries that pollute freely and exploit workers causes far more damage to the planet and to most of the people that are involved compared to the financial benefit reaped by the few.

    I trust Barack Obama to apply his wisdom to sticky trade issues than I do McSame.

    July 1, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. Michael Lorton, Virginia

    I'm not commenting on McCain anymore.....nothing but political woof.

    July 1, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Texan for Progression

    Don't cloud the issue with facts. Who cares what McCain stands for, Obama backers are a cult! Therefore, I'm voting McCain!!! Never mind that I'm an unemployed blue collar worker who has lost his job to free trade. Obama is a muslim and his real name is Barry. He has big ears and his feet stink. NOBAMA, McCain all the way so that you Dems can get what you deserve. And don't tell me that I'm only hurting myself...I'm too retarded to even notice.

    July 1, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Jan/Canada

    just who do you people think you are going to get oil and other resources from if you try to ruin free trade agreement? this is not only about the US, but several other powerful countries. You had all better wake up and smell your starbucks lattes before you do not have access to that rich, delicious cup of coffee! Do Dems realize how naive you sound? Winning an election is one thing. Raising the ire of your biggest trading partners is a huge mistake!! you can take that to the bank. Like bananas? tough!

    July 1, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Tom

    Americans are not against FREE trade, but that’s not what we have in this country. Big Pharmacia has written our drug laws to increase and protect their profit, the financial industry and Wall Street insiders have written the regulations for bankruptcy and commodities trading to make it easier to rape the vast majority of the population. Energy companies are allowed a ridiculous amount of influence in the energy policies of the government. Our international trade policies were written to curry the favor of foreign countries so they will be our “friends” instead of making sure that we are on a level playing field with our foreign competitors. Corporations have been given tax incentives that actually encourage them to move jobs overseas. Not to mention the corporations that have incorporated to a PO box in the Caribbean to avoid taxes, but they of course still want to do business in the US.
    We can’t have FREE trade until we fix the inequities that the fools in Washington have turned a blind eye to or helped to create.

    July 1, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. econo-miser

    Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II sold American's down the river. Corporation executives won. They have received wind-fall profits for years. Executives walk away with millions in bonuses while the average American worker's salary and benefits have eroded beyond belief. McCain is not the answer. Clinton was not the answer. Obama will have his hands full trying to affect change of a 30 year policy. Washington DC was taken over by the corporations years ago. If you do not agreed, just consider the number of lobbyists that have moved into the Beltway.....and what retired politicians become.

    July 1, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. bd

    There is a lot of people that know nothing about economics in this forum. NAFTA isn't free trade. Free Trade is when a group decides on a price. Free trade happens between cities, states, and countries. Furthermore, eliminating free trade will increase prices of goods.

    July 1, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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