The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Obama on Card-Check, NAFTA, Speech to Muslims, Border Fence: Wait and See


The Los Angeles Times tries desperately to get Obama to reveal anything about his priorities, and gets the usual, “we’re working on that, we’ll let you know.”

Q: On card-check protection [which would make it easier for unions to organize], we’ve heard that there might be a delay on that, or it might not be an immediate priority? Also, on NAFTA, we’ve heard that you might support maybe a study and then a report, instead of a wholesale reworking of the agreement right away?

O: Well look, my economic team is reviewing these issues. You know, I’ve consistently said on trade issues that I want environmental and labor provisions that are enforceable in those trade agreements.

But I also have said that I believe in free trade and don’t think that we can draw a moat around the American economy. I think that would be a mistake.

When it comes to unions, I have consistently said that I want to strengthen the union movement in this country and put an end to the kinds of barriers and roadblocks that are in the way of workers legitimately coming together in order to form a union and bargain collectively.

My economic team is going to put together a package on trade and on worker issues that will be presented to me. I don’t want to anticipate right now what sequences will be on these issues.

Don’t ask the President-Elect; ask the economic team, since apparently they’re the ones who will really be making the decisions and setting policies.

Or, you know, you could go to the national-security team to find out about his address to the Muslim world:

Q: Are you prepared to give a speech in an Islamic capital? Would that send a message about inclusiveness and tolerance given the mutual suspicion that exists between these different faiths?

O: This is something that I talked about doing in the campaign and it’s something that I intend to follow through on. What the time frame is, how we structure that, you know, is something that I will determine with my national security team in the coming weeks and months…

But I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular.

So, we need to take advantage of that and the message I want to send is that we will be unyielding in stamping out the kind of terrorist extremism that we saw in Mumbai.

We will be at the same time unrelenting in our desire to create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership with countries and peoples of goodwill who want their citizens and ours to prosper together. And I think that the world is ready for that message.

Q: Would you expect that speech to be in the first six months, first year?

O: I’m not going to speculate on the date . . . but it’s something that I will do.

Well, clearly, at least Obama isn’t just relying on his advisers on an issue as simple as the border fence.

Q: Will you support the build-out of the fence and its continued construction?

O: You know, one of the things I want to do — and I’m very pleased with [Arizona Gov.] Janet Napolitano as the next head of the Department of Homeland Security, because nobody has more experience on these border issues than she does — I want to discuss with her what our best options are, what our best strategy is, do an evaluation about what’s working, what isn’t working. And then we’ll make a determination from there.

This is the interviewing equivalent of voting “present.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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