Previewing Obama's trip to Canada today, the New York Times writes that Obama these days is striking a different message on NAFTA and trade than he did during the primary campaign. "With Canadians up in arms over 'Buy America' provisions in President Obama's economic recovery package, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper warning the United States not to back away from its international treaty obligations, Mr. Obama, who will make a day trip to Ottawa on Thursday, is no longer emphasizing the idea of reopening Nafta."
"Instead, he and his senior advisers are talking up the booming trade relationship between Canada and the United States -- the largest trade partnership in the world, the White House says -- and limiting their Nafta message to revamping side agreements on environmental and labor protections."
Of course, Obama made the pivot on trade as he moved into the general election. Wrote Fortune last June: "'Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,' [Obama] conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA 'devastating' and 'a big mistake,' despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy."
RNC chair Michael Steele issued this statement before Obama's trip to Canada: "After signing a trillion dollar stimulus package with protectionist language, it is important that President Obama clearly communicate America's commitment to global trade. Protectionism is not a solution to our current economic crisis; closing our borders would only lead to fewer jobs and a deeper recession."
Has Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius become Obama's top choice to head HHS? The New York Times says so, although our sources refused to confirm the news. Per the Times, Sebelius "is emerging as the president's top choice for secretary of health and human services, advisers said Wednesday… It remained unclear whether the White House would finish vetting Ms. Sebelius in time to nominate her by next week. Advisers described her as 'the leading candidate,' although they said other names were still in discussion and emphasized that no final decision had been made. After the troubles with Mr. Daschle and other nominees, the White House has intensified its vetting to make sure it thoroughly scrubs its choices before Mr. Obama signs off."