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Trade on the Trail - to SC, Michigan and beyond...

(Disclosure: Global Trade Watch has no preference among the candidates.)

This week the candidates are really trade talking.

From last night's Republican presidential candidate debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (transcript and video):

Romney said,

I want to make sure that in this time when our economy is a little fragile, not sure where we're heading, that we strengthen that economy. That's what I know how to do. I've seen jobs come and go; I'll make sure that jobs come to America.

And I know that there are some people who think, as Senator McCain did, he said, you know, some jobs have left Michigan that are never coming back. I disagree.

I'm going to fight for every single job, Michigan, South Carolina, every state in this country. We're going to fight for jobs and make sure that our future is bright. We're going to protect the jobs of Americans and grow this economy again.

And McCain,

One of the reasons why I won in New Hampshire is because I went there and told them the truth. And sometimes you have to tell people things they don't want to hear, along with things that they do want to hear.

There are jobs -- let's have a little straight talk -- there are some jobs that aren't coming back to Michigan. There are some jobs that won't come back here to South Carolina.

But we're going to take care of them. That's our goal; that's our obligation.

And from Huckabee,

The first one is fuel prices. When gasoline gets as high as it is, and oil goes to $100 a barrel, it impacts the way people live. It may not impact people at the top, but people who barely make it from paycheck to paycheck know that it doesn't just affect the fuel going to and from work.

Everything they reach for on the shelf of their store costs more because it took more money to transport it to that store.

So that's the first thing we have to realize, is with our dependency upon foreign oil, if we don't begin to reverse that and become energy independent, we well could continue this enslavement to foreign oil, and ultimately wreck our economy.

And from Huckabee in the Detroit News,

Q. John McCain says free trade has helped created jobs. You have been more critical of Bush administration trade policies. What is your position?

A. I have been accused of being a protectionist. I'm not. I believe in free trade. I supported NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). I supported CAFTA (Central America). I'm not trying to be clever, but I said that's fine. But then we need to make these nations "have ta" live by the same agreements that we live by and exercise strict enforcement of them.

And from Obama's final New Hampshire speech:

Our new majority can end the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of the working Americans who deserve it.

And now to congressional races –

In an Illinois Democratic primary to replace Rep. Hastert as reported in the Beacon News, trade is becoming a big issue:

Laesch took the opportunity to criticize the Bush administration for its "message of fear." He suggested repealing the North American Free Trade Agreement and instituting labor standards for U.S. trade partners. That, Laesch said, would eliminate a lot of the incentive for immigrants to come to the U.S. illegally. When asked, Stein and Foster both agreed that America's trade agreements need work.

And in an Iowa Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Boswell, Fallon has brought up trade again and again. From CQ,

The war is not the only issue on which Fallon is opposing Boswell. He said he disagreed with Boswell's vote in November to implement a free trade agreement between the United States and Peru that a slight majority of Democrats opposed. Boswell supported the measure because he believed it will benefit Iowa farmers in selling their products to Peru, noting that the accord included provisions on worker rights and environmental protection.

Fallon — who also expresses opposition to the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, better known by the acronym NAFTA — takes a different position on the Peru measure.

"The word 'free' — and I put that in quotes — is an inaccurate description of what's happening, where we have treaties that offer no protection for our own jobs," Fallon said. "Workers are seeing their jobs head overseas left and right thanks to these trade treaties, and there are minimal environmental protections and minimal worker safety issues."

The Iraq war and trade, Fallon said, are "just two of many, many issues that we disagree on."

That's it for this week. Happy Friday!

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