Mrs. Clinton who has been vociferous in her condemnation of free trade agreements, positioning herself with trade unions in their fight against the loss of US jobs, has suffered yet another blow after the Mark Penn Colombia trade issue, further compromising her credibility as the Pennsylvania primaries draw closer.
After a delayed reaction which only saw the demotion of Mark Penn who had met with the Colombian government in support of a trade deal Mrs. Clinton has been campaigning against, the question from critics was; had she made too much fuss over something she did not totally disagree with?
In a move to save her from further embarrassment, — just in case the opposition uncovered the information — her campaign admitted that her husband, former President Bill Clinton and Mark Penn shared the same views on the Colombian free trade agreement. Bill Clinton is said to have spoken in favour of the agreement since 2000. This confirms that Mark Penn had not veered off course when he met with Colombian officials, further explaining why he had not been fired outrightly.
Both Bill Clinton and Mark Penn are very important elements in the Clinton campaign and distancing herself from their views on trade would be a difficult task.
Defending Mrs Clinton’s position on the issue Jay Carson, a Clinton spokesperson said “Senator Clinton is the candidate for president and she is a clear and firm opponent of the Colombian free trade agreement”
Critics believe that Mrs. Clinton has not been sincere on the subject of free trade. John Podhoretz, a columnist, thinks that “Hillary is engaged in a gross act of deception toward the Democratic on the matter of free trade… even as she would surely support it for every good reason once in the White House…”
The Clinton campaign attacked Mr. Obama before the Ohio primaries when a leaked information indicated that one of his economic advisers had expressed different views on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Although those claims were denied by Mr. Obama, the Clinton campaign’s focus on that issue contributed to the wide margin that marked Hillary’s win in Ohio.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s Pennsylvania lead has been slipping to the advantage of Barack Obama. Mr. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has endorsed Mr. Obama said that “Trade is the number one issue in Pennsylvania” further indicating that “If Hillary is going to have any credibility on the trade issue … she can’t have strategists on her staff who are lobbying for trade agreements like the one with Colombia.”
The statement made by Mr. Hoffa is a reminder of a simillar statement Mrs Clinton made before the Ohio primaries in which she said “if some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments…”, suggesting Obama fires his economic adviser.
The ball Mrs. Clinton threw to the wall has come back to her.