President Obama vs. Candidate Obama on Trade With Latin America

Another Example of Obama Taking Credit for Others’ Policies

WASHINGTON – Today President Obama again took credit for others’ policies, trumpeting free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, while neglecting to acknowledge how he campaigned against the very same free trade agreements that he promoted today.

Obama bragged today in a White House fact sheet that NAFTA created $18 trillion in goods and services, but failed to acknowledge that he said in 2008 that “it is absolutely true that NAFTA was a mistake.”

Also, the White House boasted that passage of the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements “underscore the President’s commitment to creating new opportunities for U.S. exporters.”  Omitted was the fact that candidate Obama said, “I will oppose the Colombia free trade agreement if George Bush is insistent on sending it to Congress.”

“We are glad that President Obama has come around to see the foolishness of opposing free trade as he did as senator and presidential candidate,” said Jonathan Collegio, communications director for American Crossroads, “but just as the Obama has done when bragging about increased oil production that was a result of another president’s prior efforts, this President seems to have a penchant for taking credit for the hard work of others.”


American Crossroads is a non-profit 527 political organization dedicated to renewing America’s commitment to individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense through informed and effective political action. American Crossroads seeks to educate voters and empower citizens to hold lawmakers and office-seekers accountable for where they stand. Paid for by American Crossroads. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

 For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Jonathan Collegio at [email protected] or (202) 559-6424.

Key Data Points on President Obama’s Confusing Record on Free Trade 

During His 2008 Presidential Campaign Obama Opposed Free Trade Agreements

Obama Told Voters He Opposed NAFTA. OBAMA: “What I oppose and what I will always oppose are trade deals to put the interests of Wall Street ahead of the interests of American workers. That’s why I oppose NAFTA.”  (CNN’s “Ballot Bowl,” 4/5/08)

  • Obama Called NAFTA “A Mistake.” OBAMA: “And it is absolutely true that NAFTA was a mistake.” (CNN, Democratic Presidential Primary Debate, 1/21/08) 
  • Obama Promised Upon Being Elected That He “Would Immediately Call The President Of Mexico, The President Of Canada To Try To Amend NAFTA.” OBAMA: “I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada to try to amend NAFTA because I think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now. And it should reflect the basic principle that our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall Street, it should also be good for Main Street. And the problem that we’ve had is, is that we’ve had corporate lobbyists, oftentimes involved in negotiating these trade agreements, but the AFL-CIO hasn’t been involved; ordinary working people have not been involved. And we’ve got to make sure that our agreements are good for everybody, because globalization right now is creating winners and losers.” (AFL-CIO Democratic Presidential Debate, Chicago, IL, 8/7/07) 

Obama Said He Opposed CAFTA And The South Korea Free Trade Agreements. OBAMA: “I am opposed to CAFTA. I’ve been opposed to South Korea.” (Democratic Primary Debate, Las Vegas, NV, 11/15/07) 

Obama Said He Would Oppose The Colombia Free Trade Agreement. OBAMA: “I will oppose the Colombia free trade agreement if George Bush is insistent on sending it to Congress because the violence against unions in Colombia would make a mockery of the very labor protections that we’ve insisted be included in these kinds of agreements.” (CNN’s “Ballot Bowl,” 4/5/08)

But, Now Obama’s Taking Credit For The Same Trade Deals He Bashed

During His 2012 State Of The Union Address, Obama Praised Passage Of The South Korea, Colombia, And Panama Trade Agreements. “We’re also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world.  Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years.  With the bipartisan trade agreements we signed into law, we’re on track to meet that goal ahead of schedule.  (Applause.)  And soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea.  Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago.” (President Barack Obama, State Of The Union Remarks, Washington, DC, 1/24/12)

Obama Said The Trade Deals Would Support Thousands Of American Jobs. “The series of trade agreements I am submitting to Congress today will make it easier for American companies to sell their products in South Korea, Colombia, and Panama and provide a major boost to our exports.  These agreements will support tens of thousands of jobs across the country for workers making products stamped with three proud words: Made in America.  We’ve worked hard to strengthen these agreements to get the best possible deal for American workers and businesses, and I call on Congress to pass them without delay, along with the bipartisan agreement on Trade Adjustment Assistance that will help workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.” (President Barack Obama, “Statement From President Obama On The Submission Of The Korea, Colombia, And Panama Trade Agreements,” Press Release, 10/3/11)

  • The White House Blog: “This morning, President Obama signed legislation implementing three job-supporting trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. These trade agreements will help put Americans back to work and grow America’s economy.” (Ambassador Ron Kirk, “President Obama Signs Historic Legislation Signaling Progress On Trade And Jobs,” The White House Blog,10/21/11)

But Really Obama’s Taking Credit For The Work Of His Predecessor

The Atlantic: “The President Is Pushing Three Deals Drafted Under Bush.” (Chris Good, “Republicans Support Obama’s Trade Agenda. Do Democrats?” The Atlantic, 9/17/11) 

  • The Atlantic:  “President Obama Is Stumping For Three Bush Trade Deals — With Colombia, South Korea, And Panama — As He Calls On Congress To Immediately Pass His Latest Jobs Agenda.” (Chris Good, “Republicans Support Obama’s Trade Agenda. Do Democrats?” The Atlantic, 9/17/11) 

The Colombia, South Korea, And Panama Free Trade Agreements “Originated With The Bush Administration.” “Even with almost zero common ground between them, President Obama and Republicans in Congress generally concur on the need for free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. But they disagree on whose fault it is that those agreements — years in the making — have still not been approved. … The three free-trade agreements, which originated with the Bush administration, would eliminate tariffs on cross-border transactions, expanding exports of American goods by about $12 billion a year, according to estimates by the United States International Trade Commission. Under the agreements, American service providers would be able to compete in the three countries, ostensibly adding new jobs to the American economy. Because of this, they are widely supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business trade groups.” (Jennifer Steinhauer, “Free-Trade Agreements Stuck In Obama-Republican Impasse,” The New York Times, 8/25/11)

  • President Bush Negotiated And Signed All Three Trade Deals. “All three pacts were negotiated and signed during the administration of former President George W. Bush, who was unable to win their approval from the Democratic-controlled Congress before leaving office in 2009.” (Doug Palmer, “House Approves South Korea, Panama, Colombia Trade Deals,” Reuters, 10/12/11)