The Wall Street Journal reports today that 60 percent of Republicans say free trade is bad for the U.S. and they would support a GOP candidate who favors tough restrictions on trade.
That amazing turnaround on the trade issue among GOP rank and file is mighty bad news for top Republican Presidential candidates.
Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney back President Bush’s call for free trade agreements with every nation in the world except those in the “axis of evil.” [The original axis of Iraq, Iran and North Korea needs updating now that Iraq is out and NK says it is getting rid of its nukes. Syria, Cuba and Venezuela are axis candidates.]
Free Trade is part of ‘Rudy’s Commandments.” According to the “JoinRudy2008” website:
“Rudy will tear down the walls to free trade and create new markets for American-made products. He will protect America's innovations and intellectual property by enforcing our trade agreements aggressively.”
The flood of junk from China may have influenced responders to the WSJ/NBC News poll. The threat posed from foreign goods hits pretty close to home when you fear that a Mattel toy made in China could make your infant sick.
General Motors’ mini-strike may have struck another chord. The accord reached with the United Auto Workers last month covered its 74K U.S. workers. A GM strike in 1970 impacted more than 321K workers. One in 1996 involved 177K.
Where did all those jobs go? What car brand do you drive? Is it a Hyundai? That Korean automaker is this nation's No. 7 car seller with a 2.5 percent share.
Meanwhile, free access to Korea's market for GM, Ford and Chrysler is a major sticking point in White House negotiations for a free trade pact with that Asian country.
Republican voters antsy about free trade do have an option within their party. That is Congressman Ron Paul, the pride of Galveston, who is giving the quickly fading John McCain a run for his money in the fund-raising derby.
Are Republicans going to cast their lot with Paul, or are they going to take a shot with a Democrat who has a real shot of winning? The betting here is that Hillary, Barack, and John look better each day for many in the GOP.