Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Obama's Campaign Manager: Harper's dirty tricks finally catch up with him.

NAFTA-gate re-emerges in book
Insider says Barack Obama campaign feared 'dirty tricks' by Stephen Harper's government in leaked-memo episode

Robert Benzie Queen's Park Bureau Chief
Wednesday, January 6 2010
Toronto Star

Barack Obama's presidential campaign suspected "dirty tricks" by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government during the 2008 NAFTA-gate controversy, a new book says.

David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, is critical of Harper's administration for its role in a damaging affair that "caused us to limp, if not bleed" into the March 4, 2008 Ohio primary.

During that crucial contest between Obama, at the time an Illinois senator, and rival Hillary Clinton, then a New York senator, there was much political posturing over the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is blamed for job losses in Ohio.

Obama's chief economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, had met with Canadian officials at the Chicago consulate and assured them the senator's public anti-NAFTA rhetoric should be construed as "political positioning."

"I fully denied any merit to the story, asserting confidently that Goolsbee had not been visiting (the Canadian consulate) on behalf of the campaign or even with the campaign's knowledge," Plouffe writes in The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory. "It was truly a social visit, I insisted; certainly we did not offer a wink and a nod to the Canadian government that our trade position was hollow politics. "Then a memo surfaced, leaked by someone in the Canadian government, and suddenly the NAFTA saga went from burning embers to a full-scale firestorm."

Plouffe says of the entire incident: "We thought there might be some dirty tricks at play on the part of the Conservative government north of the border, but brushed it off as a tempest in a teapot."

Plouffe notes the missive by Canadian consular staffer Joseph DeMora stated "flatly that Goolsbee had reassured the Canadian government that their trade rhetoric was just politics and would be softened once we were out of Ohio and had secured the nomination."

The impact on Obama's campaign was devastating.

"It looked like we had lied about the interaction. The press was in full lather and Clinton struck hard on the campaign trail, asserting that workers couldn't trust Obama because he was not being straight about trade; he was saying one thing to them and another to the Canadians," writes Plouffe.

"The story was a direct hit on Obama's character and took an immediate toll," he continues.

Obama lost the Ohio primary, extending the contest for the Democratic nomination. In the November 2008 election, he won the state over Republican John McCain.

"I still maintain that we got sucker-punched here; maybe the worst thing our adviser (Goolsbee) said – and we put him under intense interrogation to get the facts – was that our position was more nuanced than its presentation on the campaign trail," he writes.

"It didn't matter. Our protests were no match for a leaked memo."

To criticism from the opposition in Ottawa in March 2008, Harper said: "I certainly deny any allegation that this government has attempted to interfere in the American election."


CAITI said...

Harper is just like Nixon:

Lie Lie Lie

followed by:

Deny Deny Deny

Brent Fullard

Anonymous said...

Sneaky, deceptive, derisive, weaselly....

He's a grownup version of that nasty little twerp we all loved to pound into the dirt for good reason in grade school... yechhh, a nasty waste of skin...


Dr Mike said...

I wonder how the Conservative talk show hosts like Charles Adler , Dave Rutherford & Roy Green would spin this one---another Liberal plot to tarnish the good name of their piano playing hero Stephen Harper I guess.

The saddest thing is the fact that the audience members have learned to accept the political lies coming out of Ottawa as some sort of "ok".

Until the so-called grass root people rise-up to put an end to the political games , then nothing will change.

Dr Mike Popovich

Loraine Lamontagne said...

I am going to have an online fantasy here - don't worry I'll keep it clean:

Imagine 8 of the most virulent anti-Harper regime opponents in the press at a dinner table, guests of Barak Obama who organized the soirée with US taxpayers money.

Imagine the reaction of the Harper PMO.