CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, a foreign policy heavyweight whose old House district borders SW Ohio and the Cincinnati metro area, is lined up with President Bush and promoting a new trade pact with Colombia. Labor unions and many Democrats in Congress such as Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown are vowing to block the proposed Colombian Free Trade Agreement. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has been outspoken against NAFTA and similar trade deals. Hamilton endorsed Obama earlier this month, a blessing by a foreign policy maven that was intended to heightens Obama's credibility in that area. But on Friday, Hamilton told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that the Colombia pact made sense and has his, if not Obama's, support:
"I favor the Colombia Free Trade Agreement on national security grounds, on economic grounds."
Other Obama supporters sharply disagree. The Teamsters Union headed by Jim Hoffa calls the Colombia deal "especially repugnant" and says it must be stopped:
"Though all of the trade deals since NAFTA have harmed American workers, the proposed deal with Colombia is especially repugnant to U.S. labor unions. Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for union members. More than 2,500 union members have been murdered by Colombia death squads since the 1980s. There have been more than 400 murders since President Uribe took office five years ago. Yet the Colombia government has done nothing to effectively stop death squads from murdering workers for trying to form unions."