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. Will-South Dakota

    That sucking sound we all hear...............McSame selling jobs to Mexico and Columbia, more of the same from the last 8 years.

    July 1, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. Nick

    Another good option is a boycott of cheaply produced foriegn goods. Or at the least consumers need to voice thier opinions about cheap foriegn products and the effect they have on the American worker. The "green" intiative in corporate America is a result of marketing. Corporations see being green as beneficial to thier image and therefore profits. Americans need to make it know that we want American products and we can begin a free market approach to solving the outsourcing problem. So next time you fill out a comment card, or warrenty, etc note that you are disapointed that this product is not made in America. Change starts from the bottom and goes up.

    July 1, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Tom

    Why is it that CNN.com only allows blogs on certain stories, i.e. stories that only make the GOP look bad.
    Why don't they let their left-wing secular fundamentalists fans see what really makes people nervous, like having a potential president whose middle name is "Hussein" and won't wear a flag lapel pin, and whose wife who just recently found pride in her country, etc. etc...

    Obama is toast. You lefty Neanderthals have overreached again.
    I know this won't be published, either.

    YES, WE McCAN!!!!

    July 1, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. jim

    just another fine example of how sen. mccain & the republican party is completely out of touch with the american people. america wants change, not a continuation of bush ineptitude.

    July 1, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. Pat in Cali

    Stop giving away the farm. There might be oil under it.

    July 1, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. OBAMA 08

    My sister's job at Chase/BankOne went to India. They brought people to Arlington, TX to train. So much for FREE trade.

    I guess when you have a brand new 737 airplance to fly around in you aren't too worried about the little guy. Is that the wife's plane?

    July 1, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  7. Dave in IL

    After Obama somehow rolls back the clock on free trade, maybe he can also go back to a flat earth which is at the center of the universe. It's not easy to establish an economy that is full of high paying jobs and fed by cheap imports from overseas.

    July 1, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  8. frank

    whats up? Obama wants free trade to . so why say its only MCCain

    July 1, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. David, Silver Spring, MD

    We have to promote our ideals and values in other countries as well as our own. If we don't believe in polluting our environment or forcing children to work in order to make our products, we should not sanction those practices in other countries that allow them.

    "Free trade" treaties is a way for our government to circumvent the very values encoded in its laws. As long as our government answers to big business more than to the American citizens, it will look for loopholes like NAFTA to allow it to ignore the will of the people.

    July 1, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. The ECONOMY STUPID!!!!

    the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of respondents report holding negative views on free trade..........Mr McCain.....the economy is the No. 1 issue in this campaign out of 15 issues tested in the poll. McCAIN says THE most precious commodity he has with the American people is that they trust him."WE do not TRUST YOU .you're making IT impossible to TRUST YOU .You are building yor campaign on WAR FEAR and TRADE ......Slow Down, SIR.....trade IS a threat to the economy........CNN.....POLL the people who have lost their jobs because of free trade

    July 1, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. In California

    (JimBlanco July 1st, 2008 12:32 pm ET

    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!)

    So, if we don't agree with the free-trade on an uneven field; We must be communist..... The way I see it, your party and President has done more for the growth on communist China, then the Chinese government themselves. I am surprised that the Chinese have not put a statue of "Bush" next to Mao.

    July 1, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. Veterans For Obama

    Clark spoke the truth!

    When I was in the service I spent the night in a Tijuana Jail; does that entitle me to executive office?

    Getting shot down does not make you a hero. Just means you failed your mission. Sorry but truth hurts.

    July 1, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Texas Liberal

    "Free trade" is defined by voodoo economists as trade controlled by large corporations. The "free" part means that those corporations are "free" from regulation, "free" from criminal prosecution, "free" to cook the books, "free" to backdate stock options, "free" to fix prices, "free" to overbill, "free" to sell toxic toys, "free" to patent common knowledge, etc. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith imagined a blacksmith who was working in his own self interest to increase his income. He did this by delivering a better product at a better price. Of course, he was just a peasant with a hammer and a forge, not an economist. He was naive; that is to say, he did not understand market forces.

    Now, global corporations employ thousands of PhD economists and social scientists to help them distort market forces with deceptive advertising, "secret" ingredients, invisible product features like enhanced social status, etc. Corporations also use bribes, vacations to exotic locations, and friendly lovely women to get no-bid contracts, favored treatment, relief from the danger of prosecution, and secret laws (earmarks). Conspiracies abound. As Adam Smith wrote, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. "

    July 1, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. The Truth

    If we elect Old Man Mac, this country will have no right to cry over high food prices, gas prices and unemployment.

    Obama 08' and 12'

    July 1, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. James

    Much ado about nothing. Still within the margin of error and therefore could really be 48%.

    Bottom line Free Trade is not the problem. Not getting "Fair" trade combined with the Free Trade is where this country gets it wrong and that is what needs to STOP Now. If others are not going to deal in Fair Trade then we should not trade with them at all.

    July 1, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. Becky

    McCain, get with the program. Or...rather don't...and let Obama win by a landslide.

    July 1, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. Jim

    Funny how the poll say this is the first time that over 50% were against free trade.

    Does anybody remember CNN reporting that 'Obaba faced big challenges, because the majority of the people were FOR free trade?'

    Nahhh....CNN wouldn't be cherry picking and twisting facts to support their favorite, Obama, now would they?

    July 1, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. kalliope

    Perhaps if Senator McCain had anything else going for him, other than his POW experiences, this would not continue to be the focus on any conversation from him or his opponents. His resume is limited, and began and ended with him being a POW, that is until he sold himself out and gave President Bush that big ol' hug back in 2004. Now he's a former Vietnam POW, with a warped perspective on that war and the current Iraq war, and a spitting image of Bush. I am surprised that the Republicans, who although I disagree with politically at nearly every juncture, settled for him so early on. And I do mean settled.

    July 1, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  19. webster208

    Here's a candidate who has a vision, and will do what he thinks is right, no matter what thepolls say. Free trade is the way to go, and this ultimately leads to the best interest of the United States. Can you imagine what would happen if the rest of the world placed barriers or imposed tarriffs on the sale of American goods abroad? It is hypocritical that Americans want open access to world markets for its goods, and at the same time, it subsidizes agricultural goods like corn, and it wants to curtail free trade when it involves open access of foreign goods to U.S. markets.

    July 1, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. HRC3655

    Well said Tony! BO is lacking in many areas. I may not vote for McCain but I guarantee I WON'T vote BO.

    July 1, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. P. Morrison

    Character or integrity are not 2 words I would use in the same sentence with McCain. Maybe you aren't familiar with his feelings on marriage??


    July 1, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. Independent in New Mexico

    In the name of "free trade" and NAFTA millions of well paying American jobs were "outsourced", and manufacturing is no longer a major employer in this country. The only ones who gained by this "free trade" / NAFTA are the ones who profit by being able import the goods needed and export the raw materals. The once proud American worker is now working, at less real income, in a "service economy" where we are in effect flipping burgers for one another. How many people do you know who actually makes a real product anymore. Not fix something, or sell something, Actually MAKES something...

    July 1, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. avm

    Now Suddenly you will see McCain for against foreign trade and then everyone around him applaud him for evolving his idea. I don't know how he is called straight talk express, he the most convoluted talk express I have seen.

    July 1, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. NickNas

    McCain like Bush can care LESS what experts OR the Majority thinks. He wants to be the next DECIDER

    July 1, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. John

    Corporate America won't be happy until the USA becomes like Mexico, and even then they'll complain that they pay us too much.

    July 1, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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