Obama taking heat for NAFTA, Rezko

A few parts of the media have finally begun doing their jobs looking into some of Obama’s past. First of all, the Rezko issue has reared it’s ugly head for him in the form of the trial starting in Chicago.

Here’s the info on the Rezko issue from The Swamp:

SAN ANTONIO – On the opening day of the federal corruption trial of Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a pack of Chicago reporters descended here today to grill Sen. Barack Obama about his relationship with the real estate developer.

Obama challenged a suggestion that he is not living up to the level of transparency in government that he often claims to be crusading for in his presidential bid.

Still, there are many questions that linger about their longtime relationship. In 1995, Rezko was one of Obama’s first political donors.

The Illinois Democrat did not offer any new specifics, despite being asked some specific questions, such as how many fundraisers Rezko held for him.

In trying to make his case for openness, Obama pointed to a previous press conference in suburban Waukegan in 2006 as his best effort to answer Rezko-related questions.

Also, here’s a video report on Rezko/Obama from CNN:

I don’t think this issue is going to hurt him much unless some major news comes out that’s damning to him personally or contradicts statements he’s made. Still, it is interesting to watch him try to answer questions for which he doesn’t have fluffy answers for.

Next, he’s had some issues with the Canadian government and what may or may not have said concerning the issue, here’s the scoop on that from Reatuers:

OTTAWA(Reuters) – Canada defended Democratic front-runner Barack Obama Monday over accusations from rival Hillary Clinton that he is secretly at ease with a hemispheric trade accord which he publicly blames for losing U.S. jobs.

Clinton’s criticism, on the eve of make-or-break presidential nomination contests for her in Ohio and Texas, stemmed from a report by Canadian television station CTV that an Obama economic adviser told Canadian officials the candidate was not seriously considering disrupting the trade accord.

But the Canadian Embassy in Washington released a statement essentially backing up the Obama camp’s version of the meeting between adviser Austan Goolsbee and officials at the Canadian consulate in Chicago.

“There was no intention to convey, in any way, that Senator Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private, including about NAFTA,” the embassy statement said. “We deeply regret any inference that may have been drawn to that effect.”

Here’s a video report on this as well from CNN:

I would say this story, more than Rezko, could have traction if there appears to be dishonesty on the part of Obama. So far he’s steered it clear of being anything more than accusations and rumors.

More on these stories as they develop since I’m doubting the Clinton campaign will be eager to let them die.

  • Tahler Thacker

    For months Big Media has repeated the catechism that neither Governor Blagojevich of Illinois nor Barack Obama are implicated in the Rezko trial. Now, as the trial begins Big Media is dumping Blagojevich. Writes the Sun Times, Tony Rezko’s upcoming trial could show how a governor who rode into Springfield pledging every ethical reform in the book was, at best, neglectful and, at worst, a fraud.

    Obama too, pledged every ethical reform but has been “at best, neglectful and, at worst, a fraud.” It was Obama after all who froze out the African-Americans who helped elect him as State Senator in order to devote himself full time to the notorious fixer/bagman Antoin “Tony” Rezko.

    The trial has not yet begun and already an FBI mole has contradicted Obama’s claim to rarely seeing Rezko while at the same time observing envelopes filled with cash switching hands at the Rezko office. The FBI mole noted that Obama and the “fraud” Governor logged frequent visits to Rezko. Big Media has not been stirred to broadcast any of this news to the voting public. Big Blogs have been equally silent.

  • Tahler Thacker

    And you’re right, Big Media is also too busy to focus a broadcast on Obama’s latest “missteps” on NAFTA. Saying one thing in a debate that appeals to Ohio voters while an emissary delivers a different “never mind” message to powerful interests is what Obama is good at. Obama, after saying a meeting never took place, well then maybe it did, well what was said was not what was said, well maybe nothing was said, well maybe it did happen but something else was said or maybe it wasn’t exactly the way it was supposed to be portrayed, well… here is the Associated Press:

    The meeting was first reported last week by Canadian television network CTV, which cited unnamed sources as saying that Goolsbee assured the Canadians that Obama’s tough talk on the North American Free Trade Agreement is just campaign rhetoric not to be taken seriously. The Obama campaign and the Canadian embassy denied there was any inconsistency between what the candidate was saying publicly and what advisers were saying privately.

    The memo obtained by the AP was widely distributed within the Canadian government. It is more than 1,300 words and covers many topics that DeMora said were discussed in the Feb. 8 “introductory meeting” between himself, Goolsbee and the consul general in Chicago, Georges Rioux.

    Goolsbee “was frank in saying that the primary campaign has been necessarily domestically focused, particularly in the Midwest, and that much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy,” the memo’s introduction said. “On NAFTA, Goolsbee suggested that Obama is less about fundamentally changing the agreement and more in favour of strengthening/clarifying language on labour mobility and environment and trying to establish these as more `core’ principles of the agreement.”

    “As Obama continues to court the economic populist vote, particularly in upcoming contests like Ohio, we are likely to see a continuation of some of the messaging that hasn’t played in Canada’s favour, but this should continue to be viewed in the context in which it is delivered,” DeMora wrote in the closing section.

    Good thing CTV was on the job – American Big Media is busy with its own priorities – electing its Big Media tool.

  • Canadian Embassy Has Denied The Report. “A spokesman for the Canadian Embassy to the United States, Tristan Landry, flatly denied the CTV report that a senior Obama aide had told the Canadian ambassador not to take seriously Obama’s denunciations of Nafta. ‘None of the presidential campaigns have called either the Ambassador or any of the officials here to raise Nafta,’ Landry said. He said there had been no conversations at all on the subject. ‘We didn’t make any calls, they didn’t call us,’ Landry said. ‘There is no story as far as we’re concerned,’ he said.” [Politico, 2/28/08]

    “The news reports on Obama’s position on NAFTA are inaccurate and in no way represent Senator Obama’s consistent position on trade. When Senator Obama says that he will forcefully act to make NAFTA a better deal for American workers, he means it. Both Canada and Mexico should know that, as president, Barack Obama will do what it takes to create and protect American jobs and strengthen the American economy — that includes amending NAFTA to include labor and environmental standards. We are currently reaching out to the Canadian embassy to correct this inaccuracy,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

  • Babs

    I think these things – and others we’ve yet to learn about – are the very reason Clinton should not drop out of the race, whether she sees victory today or not. Obama’s pied piper approach is beginning to get a little out of tune, and more and more truths – or lies – are surfacing about the man. He is not the Messiah, and that will be a great surprise and disappointment to many people in the near future to learn that. That is the point where Clinton’s momentum will rise again.

    I also heard reports on Fox yesterday that some black super delegates are receiving threats unless they change their vote to Obama – one reported even being called an “Uncle Tom”. How racist is that. Of course Obama will probably plead no knowledge of that either. But his “that was a mistake” line is getting old.

  • Babs

    The more things change. . . .

    Politico: African-American superdelegates said Thursday that they’ll stand up against threats, intimidation and “Uncle Tom” smears rather than switch their support from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to Sen. Barack Obama.

    “African-American superdelegates are being targeted, harassed and threatened,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.), a superdelegate who has supported Clinton since August. Cleaver said black superdelegates are receiving “nasty letters, phone calls, threats they’ll get an opponent, being called an Uncle Tom.

    “This is the politics of the 1950s,” he complained. “A lot of members are experiencing a lot of ugly stuff. They’re not going to talk about it, but it’s happening.” Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-Calif.), a black lawmaker and Clinton backer, said the intense lobbying for Obama would not alter her vote.

    “I’ve gotten threatening mail,” Watson said. “They say, ‘Your district went 61-29 Obama and you need to change.’ But I don’t intimidate. I can hold the ground. … I would lose my seat over my principles.” . . . Black superdelegates are getting heavy pressure from such groups as ColorOfChange.org, a grass-roots organization backing Obama.

  • Michael

    I appreciate these superdelegates not bowing to social pressure. And it is sad that Obama supporters are giving them nasty emails.

    Part of the ugliness might stem from the ridiculous rationale for superdelegate presence in the first place. Watson might be able to “hold her ground” but why should she even have a position in this democratic process?

  • Babs

    Michael, I’m not sure I could even categorize the members of colorofchange.org as simply supporters. I’d never heard of them until reading this. When I went over to their website and read it – thoroughly – the KKK came to mind – in reverse. Seems any cause they take up – like this one – is going to be based on emails and calls like this. I would think this would be a group Obama might want to denounce/reject. *wink*