The U.S. Secretary of Commerce talked by phone with Iowa reporters Tuesday to criticize Democratic congressional candidate Bruce Braley.
Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez says Braley’s opposition to free trade agreements like NAFTA is misguided. He says Canada is Iowa’s number one trading partner, importing over $2.5 worth of Iowa products last year. “Iowa does about $7.3 billion worth of exports. That’s a 58 percent increase over where the state was in 2001,” he says.
Gutierrez accuses Braley of being a protectionist. “We have found out as a nation, during our history, that protectionism does not protect American jobs…Fifteen percent of all manufacturing jobs in Iowa are related to exports; 53,600 agricultural jobs are tied to exports,” Gutierrez says. “We should not be playing with protectionist policies that put these jobs at risk.”
The phone call from Gutierrez was organized by the Republican Party of Iowa on behalf of GOP congressional candidate Mike Whalen, Braley’s opponent.
Braley says he doesn’t oppose trade agreements, but he says they must put the U.S. on equal footing with other countries. Braley’s campaign is running ads on the issue that are critical of President Bush. “Under George Bush, over 20,000 manufacturing jobs have left Iowa. Bruce Braley says it’s time for a change,” the narrator in the ad says. “Braley supports rolling back unfair trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA because they cost us jobs in Iowa.”
Braley, a lawyer from Waterloo, and Whalen, a lawyer and businessman from the Quad Cities, are competing for Iowa’s first district congressional seat.