(CNSNews.com) - Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore may be playing both ends against the middle on the Permanent Normal Trade Relations issue with China.
On one side, Gore is telling labor that he is fighting for protectionist measures and is against PNTR. On the other side, Gore is telling business that he is backing expanded trade with China.
On February 17th, Gore met behind closed doors with the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO and secured that organization's presidential endorsement in exchange for promises to incorporate protectionist policies into trade agreements.
The very next day, Gore sent a letter to National Association of Manufacturers' President Jerry Jasinowski, saying, "I believe that Congress should enact legislation to secure these goals (China's membership in the WTO) - in the form they have been negotiated - this year."
When asked about his promise to the AFL-CIO that he would renegotiate the China trade agreement if it failed to pass in Congress, Gore responded, "I never said that."
According to a Democratic leader close to Gore: "He's in an agonizing spot. He can't afford to alienate the unions, and they've made this deal public enemy number one. And he can't break with the President. So, he's all over the place."
Gore's campaigning tactics appear transparent to many observers, including US Chamber of Commerce President Bruce Josten. "I think most people in this town (Washington, DC) understand that the vice president was trolling for votes," Josten said.