No wonder hard core opponents of free trade like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) moved so quickly to push protectionist legislation after Barack Obama secured the Democratic nomination. They were worried that with need to pander to organized labor gone, Obama might start to acknowledge that the old bipartisan consensus that free trade was good for America was correct. And according to Fortune they were right:
In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine’s upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn’t want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.
“Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,” he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA “devastating” and “a big mistake,” despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.
Does that mean his rhetoric was overheated and amplified? “Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don’t exempt myself,” he answered.