CNN's Lou Dobbs claimed that President-elect Barack Obama “didn't talk about NAFTA” during a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and later claimed Obama and Calderón “didn't talk about NAFTA, after so much of it ... was made on the campaign trail.” In fact, according to an Obama spokesman, Obama “expressed his continued commitment to upgrading NAFTA” and “proposed the creation of a consultative group to work on a host of issues important to the United States and Mexico, including NAFTA.”
During the January 12 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs claimed that President-elect Barack Obama “didn't talk about NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement]” during a January 12 meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón. Dobbs later claimed that Obama and Calderón “didn't talk about NAFTA, after so much of it ... was made on the campaign trail.” However, according to a statement by incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, during the 90-minute private lunch meeting, Obama “expressed his continued commitment to upgrading NAFTA to strengthen labor and environmental provisions to reflect the values that are widely shared in both of our countries, and proposed the creation of a consultative group to work on a host of issues important to the United States and Mexico, including NAFTA, energy and infrastructure.”
Following his private lunch meeting with Calderón, Obama spoke to the press but did not specifically reference NAFTA.
From the January 12 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
DOBBS: Up next, the pro-amnesty, open borders lobby is stepping up its assault on the men and women who are trying to enforce our immigration laws. We'll have that special report. And President-elect Obama -- well, meeting with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico today. They didn't talk about -- well, they didn't talk about NAFTA. I wonder what they talked about besides amnesty and, well, open borders.
[begin video clip]
LISA SYLVESTER (CNN correspondent): But the two leaders didn't reveal how they will proceed on one contentious issue: trade. On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama called for renegotiating NAFTA, saying the trade deal has not benefitted American workers.
MAURICIO CARDENAS (Brookings Institution senior fellow): That's certainly the elephant in the room, because with all the discussion during the campaign about the renegotiation of NAFTA, it's obvious that, in Mexico, there are many concerns about that. And it's been fundamental for Mexico's growth, you know, free access to the U.S. market, and any change in that regard is going to be very disruptive.
SYLVESTER: Despite Mr. Obama's interest in strengthening ties, Mexico is unlikely to be a focus point for the incoming administration, with war in Iraq and the Middle East garnering most of the attention.
[end video clip]
SYLVESTER: With the U.S. economy hurting, President-elect Obama is under enormous pressure to put Americans to work. So, proposals like comprehensive immigration reform or any efforts to try to implement a guest-worker program could be a tough sell in Congress, and if the economy continues to sour, we can expect more people will look at Obama's campaign pledge to renegotiate NAFTA, and they will expect him to follow through -- Lou.
DOBBS: You've got to give the Brookings Institution, Cardenas, credit for saying it exactly as it is. Mexico, with its dependencies that have been created, with free access, as he put it, to the U.S. market. That's going to be a significant issue, or should be a significant issue, for all of our principal trading partners, and it's interesting that with all that has preceded this, Lisa, that the two heads -- well, one head of state and one to-be head of state -- didn't talk about NAFTA, after so much of it, as you pointed out, was made on the campaign trail.
SYLVESTER: Yeah, a lot of eyes are gonna be watching to see what exactly Obama does. And I've got to tell you, I've made some calls and people who are looking to see if Obama actually renegotiates NAFTA, they are not all that optimistic, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, perhaps we've seen this movie before. Perhaps we haven't. We'll soon get a sense of what direction we're headed in. Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester.