- The Washington Times - Friday, February 29, 2008

FORT WORTH, Texas — Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton today demanded that rival Sen. Barack Obama say whether a top adviser told Canadian officials that his promise to renegotiate a trade deal was “just campaign rhetoric.”

“A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will do,” Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said. “It’s a simple question. It deserves a simple answer.”

Canada’s CTV News, citing Canadian sources, reported that a senior Obama campaign adviser telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, and warned him not to take seriously Mr. Obama’s attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The report made similar claims about Mrs. Clinton, but the Clinton campaign denied offering such assurances to Canada.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have promised to renegotiate the trade deal, which is blamed in the battleground state of Ohio for massive job losses as employers move work across the border.

Mr. Wolfson said the Canadian report, if true, would be another example of Mr. Obama “saying one thing and doing another.”

“It would represent a major development in his campaign,” he told reporters in a conference call.

Both candidates exchanged accusations of shifting positions on NAFTA in advance of the potentially pivotal primary Tuesday in Ohio.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton previously praised aspects of the trade deal, which was ratified during the tenure of Mrs. Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.

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