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Obama Campaign Harshly Critical of Clinton's NAFTA Role

Updated 6:38 p.m.
By Jonathan Weisman
Barack Obama's campaign pounced on newly released documents showing then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's attendance at numerous White House meetings plotting strategy for securing passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, accusing her of deliberately obfuscating her role to win the Ohio primary.

In unusually harsh language, chief Obama strategist David Axelrod said the calendar notations were "direct, incontrovertible evidence" that Clinton was deeply involved in securing NAFTA's passage, despite her campaign claims that she opposed the trade accord between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"This is the political equivalent of consumer fraud," Axelrod huffed.

NAFTA was a key issue in Clinton's victorious campaign in Ohio. She claimed repeatedly that she had opposed it unsuccessfully in her White House days, but it may have been the Obama campaign's missteps more than her protests that won the day. Obama's economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, had quietly met with the Canadian consul in Chicago to assure them the Illinois senator was not veering too far into economic populism, and that meeting leaked out, first in Canadian television press accounts, then in a document leaked by the Canadians.

The Clinton campaign protested the calendar notations proved nothing about what was said in the White House meetings and noted that one of the NAFTA meetings Clinton attended was run by David Gergen, "who has clearly stated that Hillary Clinton was opposed to NAFTA."

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 20, 2008; 5:16 PM ET
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