Trade on the Trail: Obama v. Uribe
Penn steps down; other heart attacks

Mark Penn. Wow.

Wowzers. WSJ (and the rest of the Western world) reporting on Hillary advisor Mark Penn meeting with President Alvaro Uribe to talk Colombia, and Penn is apologizing. Teamsters are hitting back, and Change to Win is hitting back. We'll stay tuned to see what happens, although both Hillary and Obama have said they will vote against the NAFTA expansion to Colombia, which Bush may try to submit to Congress as early as next Tuesday. (Saturday update: Uribe canceled Penn's firm's contract.)

Meanwhile, WSJ blog reports that Obama hits back against Uribe:

Sen. Barack Obama pushed back against criticism from Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who said Obama opposes the free-trade deal between Washington and Bogota because of election politics.

“I think the president is absolutely wrong on this,” Obama told reporters on his plane Friday morning. “You’ve got a government that is under a cloud of potentially having supported violence against unions, against labor, against opposition.” The Illinois senator has promised to rebuild America’s reputation abroad.

Nutcake In related news, Max Baucus gives us his definition of nutcake; and Bob Novak further deflates his credibility by suggests U.S. labor is controlled by Venezuela's Chavez (funny, I worked on Venezuela a few years back and remember quite the opposite).

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

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Dan in Bronxville, NY

Penn has created a problem for Clinton. His apparent or real conflict of interest was already known but mostly ignored in MSM. But when he met with Colombian officials he created a story. Clinton surely knew about Penn’s involvement or was oblivious to what Washington insiders knew. Either way it looks bad for her. It gives Obama’s union supporters (and all supporters) an opportunity to challenge her integrity, credibility and judgment. Doubt about whatever her past role in NAFTA ceases to be just a historical matter. Now the question is much more: What is her real position and how might she really represent her working class constituency should she become president.

The problem she has with voters about how truthful she is will color whatever she or her surrogates says about this. In turn, because this looks bad, this will potentially further diminish people’s perceptions of her honesty. That may have some impact on Pennsylvania. But the bigger problem will be with super delegates. How does a super delegate who depends on union support and argues for protecting American jobs, endorse her without a measure of risk and the need to explain himself.

There are probably background issues that will surface, as well. Who are Penn’s company’s other clients? What are the undisclosed details of the Clinton’s 2007 taxes? How well does Clinton run her campaign (how much was Penn paid?) and what does that say about her judgment? How does this expose her in a general election and does this mean that she is less electable? These may or may not be fair questions, but they will gain some traction nonetheless.

This may overshadow Bosnia.

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