Will loose lips sink anti-NAFTA ships?

Canada's CTV says Obama's economic advisor Austan Goolsbee told a Canadian official not to worry about Obama's "rhetoric."

Published February 29, 2008 5:07PM (EST)

Talking Points Memo points us to a new report from Canada's CTV in which the news organization fingers Austan Goolsbee, Barack Obama's chief economic advisor, as the man who told Canada not to worry about Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric.

According to CTV, the conversation between Goolsbee and the Canadian consulate general took place in Chicago. CTV also reported that on Thursday night "CTV spoke with Goolsbee, but he refused to say whether he had such a conversation with the Canadian government office in Chicago. He also said he has been told to direct any questions to the campaign headquarters."

Having been apprised of this information, How the World Works feels it should retract its unsourced suggestion that this whole affair smelled like a political dirty trick. Goolsbee's refusal to affirm or deny that the conversation took place, the Obama campaign's original cautious response that "the story was not accurate" and the likely fact that Goolsbee almost undoubtedly believes that Obama's vigorous criticism of NAFTA is indeed just rhetoric, make the story a good bit more believable than it first appeared. One doubts that this was an authorized communication between the Obama campaign and the Canadian consulate, however.

Apparently, economists just don't know when to keep their mouths shut during a political campaign. One hearkens back to Bush's economic advisor, Greg Mankiw, spouting off about the benefits of outsourcing during the 2004 campaign, for which he was royally spanked.

In the interests of fairness, it should be noted that CTV is now saying that "the Clinton campaign has [also] made indirect contact with the Canadian government, trying to reassure Ottawa of their support despite Clinton's words."

The Clinton campaign "denied the claim."

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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2008 Elections Canada Globalization How The World Works