The Obama campaign is seizing on the evidence in the Clinton White House schedules that show she attended at least one meeting about Nafta.
“This is one of the most critical issues facing Americans workers,” said Roger Tauss, international vice president of the Transportation Workers Union, in a conference call just now. “Nothing played a bigger role in this than Nafta.”
He went on, “Senator Clinton likes to say on the campaign trail that she has always been a critic of Nafta. “Her White House schedules … show she played a major role in this bill.”
Transportation workers, Tauss said, “can take tough love if you don’t agree with us” but he added that his priority is to have a president who will “be straight with the American people.”
Obama campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs drew attention to one particular meeting, on Nov. 10, 1993—“just one week before Nafta passed,” he noted. He said that attendees at the closed-door meeting, who were reportedly international businesswomen, said it was “organized around” Clinton, and that she sought to enlist their “help in ensuring the passage of Nafta.”
Gibbs went on to say that people have been wondering “what was lurking in the White House schedules.”
“One thing she was hiding was the truth,” he said.
It became clear as the call went on that the campaign is only partially interested in criticizing Clinton’s actual position on Nafta, then or now. They are more intent on drawing attention to her alleged dishonesty—that “Clinton is willing to do absolutely anything to get elected,” as spokesman Bill Burton has said more than once in the last few days.
In a campaign memo sent out earlier today, the Clinton campaign had this to say about the schedules and her position on Nafta:
Fact: It is no secret that passing NAFTA was a priority of the Clinton Administration, but numerous contemporary accounts make clear that Hillary Clinton was personally opposed to NAFTA, and her position on NAFTA was and remains consistent.
For example, one of the NAFTA meetings she attended was run by David Gergen who has clearly stated that Hillary Clinton was opposed to NAFTA. According to Gergen, Hillary “was extremely unenthusiastic about NAFTA. And I think that’s putting it mildly.” He said: “If I could just add one other post script, Anderson, on NAFTA, I was actually there in the Clinton White House during the NAFTA fight and I must tell you Hillary Clinton was extremely unenthusiastic about NAFTA. And I think that’s putting it mildly. I’m not sure she objected to all the provisions of it but she just didn’t see why her husband and that White House had to go and do that fight. She was very unhappy about it and wanted to move on to health care. So I do think there’s some justification for her camp saying, you know, she’s never been a great backer for NAFTA.” [David Gergen, Anderson Cooper 360, 2/25/08]