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Bill, Hillary Clinton disagree about Colombia trade pact

(CNN) — Sen. Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to a controversial free trade pact, her campaign says.

Hillary Clinton staunchly opposes a free trade agreement with Colombia, but her husband, the former president, supports it.

Clinton’s campaign spokesman, Jay Carson, told The Associated Press that her opposition to the deal is clear and firm.

Like other married couples who disagree on issues from time to time, she disagrees with her husband on this issue. President Clinton has been public about his support for Colombia’s request for U.S. trade preferences since 2000, he told AP.

According to AP, Bill Clinton raked in $800,000 from Gold Service International, a development group based in Bogota, Colombia, that supports the Colombia free trade deal. The payment was for appearances in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil in 2005.

Earlier this week, Clinton’s chief strategist Mark Penn resigned amid controversy about a meeting he had with Colombian officials to promote the pact. Penn said he met the officials not as a Clinton representative but rather in his capacity as chief of his public relations company, Burson-Marsteller.

Penn called the meeting an error in judgment that will not be repeated, and apologized. That prompted Colombia’s government to fire the company Saturday, calling the remarks a lack of respect to Colombians.

Though he resigned as chief strategist, the Clinton campaign said Penn will still advise the campaign.

Hillary Clinton maintains her stance is clear and she has said she doesn’t think the fallout over Penn will hurt her campaign. In an interview Tuesday, she suggested she dealt with the matter more definitively than Obama did when he faced a similar situation.

Contrast that to Sen. Obama’s campaign where, as far as I know, nothing was ever done when one of his top economic advisers representing the campaign — unlike Mr. Penn who was not representing the campaign — but Mr. Obama’s representative told the Canadian government basically not to pay any attention to what Sen. Obama was saying about [the North American Free Trade Agreement], she told CNN on Tuesday.

Clinton and top aides were sharply critical of Obama after reports his top economic adviser suggested to a Canadian official that Obama was not as supportive of changes to NAFTA as the Illinois senator claimed to be on the campaign trail.

Clinton went on to win Ohio by double-digits.

Campaigning on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton reiterated her push to defeat the Colombia Free Trade Agreement now before Congress.

Free trade agreements don’t sit well with everyone in Pennsylvania, home to more than 800,000 union voters. Watch how the Penn controversy could play out in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the next battleground for Clinton and rival Barack Obama. The state holds its primary on April 22, and 158 delegates are at stake.

We’ve got to have new trade policies before we have new trade deals. And that includes no trade deal with Colombia while violence against trade unionists continues in that country, she said while campaigning last week.

The Colombia trade pact isn’t the first issue that has caused the Clintons to butt heads.

Clinton grabbed headlines earlier this week when she called on President Bush to skip the opening ceremonies of this year’s Olympic Games in Beijing — a move that revived memories of what her team considers one of her finest foreign policy moments, her speech in that city as first lady challenging the Chinese government on its women’s rights record. In fact, the senator’s get-tough policy on China on a host of issues has been one of the hallmarks of her presidential run since it began.

Bill Clinton took aim at the Chinese government over human rights during his first White House run — but removed human rights standards from China’s Most Favored Nation requirements and became the first U.S. president to visit the country since the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Both moves drew sharp criticism from those within the party who believed, as Clinton herself does, that greater public pressure was needed to bring about reform in China.

And the senator has repeatedly insisted that she has always been a fierce opponent of NAFTA — an economic treaty that was one of the signal achievements of her husband’s presidency. The issue has continued to dog her on the trail, where NAFTA is deeply unpopular with many Democratic primary voters.
Bill, Hillary Clinton disagree about Colombia trade pact – found here.


April 9, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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