Following Sen. Barack Obama’s speech on competitiveness in Flint, Mich., McCain adviser Carly Fiorina blasted the Illinois senator’s trade positions in a conference call with reporters.
"Competitiveness requires competing, and competing means that we must be a nation that engages fully in free trade. Many have called Barack Obama the most protectionist candidate that the Democratic Party has ever fielded, and indeed his record supports that charge. He has said on numerous occasions that we should unilaterally renegotiate NAFTA. He voted against free trade agreements with our friends and allies like Colombia and South Korea. Fairly clear, from the reality of his record, if you set aside his rhetoric, Barack Obama does not believe that Americans can compete with anyone in the world."
Without naming specific policies, Fiorina also hammered Obama for proposing "a variety of big-government solutions."
"He seems to think that government bureaucrats in Washington can do better than families in making their own choices about education or health care, or that big-government bureaucrats can do better than American businesses, entrepreneurs or factory workers."
She went on to praise Sen. John McCain for his "established record of bipartisanship," while Obama had "no record of bipartisanship." She also reaffirmed McCain’s pledge to prosecute violations of trade agreements, and singled out the Chinese as one possible place to start.
Sen. McCain has said on many occasions that he will prosecute our agreements with other nations, that he will ensure that those agreements are followed and that where our trading partners are not adhering to the standards they signed up for – for example, [World Trade Organization] standards – that we should prosecute those trading partners. He has given examples of China on specific occasions.
Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, is a controversial figure within the McCain campaign. She drew fire from the Obama camp after Sen. John McCain criticized exorbitant executive pay packages in a speech before a small business convention last week. Fiorina received a $21 million severance package when she was forced out of HP in 2005.
McCain’s strategy of making free trade the centerpiece of his economic and foreign policy agendas is a bit risky. Many workers in key swing states — like Michigan and Ohio — are wary of free trade deals after watching jobs move overseas in recent years. According to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll in April, 64 percent of Americans believe increased trade with other countries has hurt the American economy. Later this week, McCain will bring his free trade message to a friendly crowd north of the border, with a speech before the Economic Club of Canada.
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