Steinhauser points us to this USA Today
report on McCain's plans for hard-hitting free-trade advocacy in Youngstown,
Ohio. From a policy perspective, it
certainly seems his advisers are saying all the right things.
McCain, however, is prepared to
argue the overall benefits of unfettered trade, aides said. "Protectionism
devastates the economy," said Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to McCain.
In an economic speech last week,
McCain said: "When new trading partners can sell in our market, and
American companies can sell in theirs, the gains are great and they are
All true! But McCain often pitches trade issues with a tough, grin-and-bear it attitude, and I often wonder if this really works as
political strategy. On one hand, it might be described as "telling hard
truths" — and we all know that's an
image McCain wants to promote. But it might also be called "telling voters
what they don't want to hear." Call me a cynic, but "I know it hurts,
but it's good for you!"doesn't seem like a terribly compelling campaign
Of course, that doesn't mean he should drop the issue
entirely. Instead, he might moderate his eat-your-vegetables approach to campaigning
with a less dour message, positioning trade as an opportunity for workers
who've lost their jobs, and pointing to the substantial
economic gains and job growth the middle class has seen as free trade
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