It looks pretty clear that the NAFTA/Goolsbee/Canada imbroglio wound up hurting Barack Obama quite badly. And in many ways, deservedly so; it was an embarrassing and amateurish way for a campaign to behave. What’s more, one has to suspect that the underlying reality is that an Obama administration’s economic team really would be much more sympathetic to trade deals than Obama’s rhetoric was suggesting.
That said, for the long haul isn’t it a bit hard to imagine opposition to NAFTA continuing to be an issue that pays dividends for Hillary Clinton. NAFTA was, after all, a signature policy accomplishment of Bill Clinton’s presidency, not of the Illinois State Senate. Whatever Obama’s economic team may or may not think about NAFTA, it was Clinton’s economic team who actually shepherded it into law. Indeed, that’s how this whole thing got started was with Obama zeroing in on the basically bogus nature of Clinton’s primary-time posturing as an anti-trade candidate. Then, thanks to Goolsbee, the charge wound up blowing up in their face. But the underlying reality is that advocacy of free trade deals was a major pillar of the Clinton administration economic policy (which is okay by me, but not to rust belt voters) and in a six week campaign it’ll be hard to throw up enough dust to obscure that.