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Obama: NAFTA not so bad after all

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday June 19, 2008 12:40 PM

Courtesy of Fortune magazine:
Obama: NAFTA not so bad after all
The Democratic nominee, in an interview with Fortune, says he wants free trade "to work for all people."

WASHINGTON (Fortune) -- The general campaign is on, independent voters are up for grabs, and Barack Obama is toning down his populist rhetoric - at least when it comes to free trade.

In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

"Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake," ....

Obama's tone stands in marked contrast to his primary campaign's anti-NAFTA fusillades....

In February, as the campaign moved into the Rust Belt, both candidates vowed to invoke a six-month opt-out clause ("as a hammer," in Obama's words) to pressure Canada and Mexico to make concessions....

Now, however, Obama says he doesn't believe in unilaterally reopening NAFTA.....

Obama also reiterated his determination to be a tougher trade bargainer. "The Chinese love free trade," he said, "but.... It's no secret they have consistently encroached on our intellectual property and our copyright laws.

Well, at least Disney and Microsoft should feel reassured.

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