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McCain: Desire to renegotiate NAFTA would jeopardize Canadian military support

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Posted: February 29, 2008 2:55 p.m.
Updated: March 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.
McCain: Desire to renegotiate NAFTA would jeopardize Canadian military support

Republican presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks to employees at Dell Inc. during a campaign stop in Round Rock, Texas, Friday, Feb. 29, 2008.


    ROUND ROCK, Texas — Republican John McCain said the desire by Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement would jeopardize crucial military support from Canada.
    McCain used a town-hall style meeting Friday at Dell Inc. headquarters to emphasize his support for NAFTA. The effects of the 1994 trade pact are still hotly debated, but studies indicate the deal has resulted in record exports from Texas to Canada and Mexico.
    Trade and national security are ‘‘interconnected with each other,’’ the Arizona senator said.
    ‘‘One of our greatest assets in Afghanistan are our Canadian friends. We need our Canadian friends, and we need their continued support in Afghanistan,’’ McCain said. ‘‘So what do we do? The two Democratic candidates for president say they’re going to unilaterally abrogate NAFTA.
    ‘‘How do you think the Canadian people are going to react to that?’’ McCain said.
    Canada has 2,500 troops serving in Afghanistan along with 29,000 U.S. soldiers.
    In fact, Clinton and Obama did not say they would abrogate the agreement; the word ‘‘abrogate’’ means to abolish or repeal.
    Rather, both Democrats said at a debate Tuesday in Cleveland they would insist on renegotiating NAFTA and would threaten to opt out of the agreement unless Canada and Mexico come to the negotiating table.
    ‘‘I will say we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it, and we renegotiate on terms that are favorable to all of America,’’ Clinton said.
    Obama agreed: ‘‘I will make sure that we renegotiate ... I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced.’’
    McCain, speaking to reporters later Friday, allowed, ‘‘maybe they’re not saying ’abrogate.’’’
    ‘‘They’re saying ’radically restructure,’’’ he said. ‘‘I think Canada would view that as a betrayal of the long years of negotiations that we agreed to.’’

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