SAN DIEGO — Republican presidential candidate John McCain, in one of his strongest endorsements of free trade, called himself “an unapologetic supporter of NAFTA,” an agreement that many Americans feel has cost them jobs.
“I reject the false virtues of economic isolationism,” McCain told the National Council of La Raza, a major Hispanic organization. “Any confident, competent country and its government should embrace competition,” he said. “It makes us stronger.”
The Arizona senator has often defended free trade, but Monday’s speech was among his most detailed and full-throated commentaries.
“Lowering barriers to trade creates more and better jobs, and higher wages,” he said. “It makes goods more affordable for low- and middle-income consumers.”
Citing his recent visit to Colombia and Mexico, McCain said he understands “how vitally important it is to the prosperity and security of our country to strengthen our trade, investment and diplomatic ties to other countries in our hemisphere.” He said he fully supports the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the Colombian Free Trade Agreement.
Congress approved the NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada in 1993, and the agreement with six Central American nations in 2005, but has blocked the agreement with Colombia.