Joe Bock isn’t so sure about free trade agreements.
The Democratic U.S. House hopeful — in response to the GOP response to the endorsement Bock received from U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly — issued a statement expressing reservations about accords like the North American Free Trade Agreement. It’s a shift from 1997 comments a Republican group dug up.
“I would oppose any new trade deals that won’t help create jobs here and have strong standards for workers and the environment abroad,” Bock said in a statement Thursday, June 12.
In response to Donnelly’s endorsement of Bock, the National Republican Congressional Committee on June 10 pointed out the differing views between the two Democrats on free trade matters, referencing archival comments. Bock is hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, the one-term GOP incumbent in the 2nd District U.S. House seat.
In comments from a State Historical Society of Missouri interview dated Aug. 14, 1997, Bock said he thought NAFTA was “a good thing” and “vehemently opposed” an anti-NAFTA resolution apparently up for consideration at the time, the NRCC said. NAFTA went into effect in 1994, reducing trade barriers between the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Citing 2005 comments from the Kokomo Perspective, the NRCC noted Donnelly expressing opposite views. He’d make opposition to accords like NAFTA “a major plank” in campaigning, Donnelly said at the time, warning of job losses brought on by such agreements, according to the NRCC.
Bock, in his statement Thursday, referenced his earlier comments and explained his shifting view. He backs moves to promote Indiana exports, but said trade has to be fair.
“NAFTA, which was relatively new when I made those comments seventeen years ago in 1997, had the potential to create growth here in America,” he said. “Since then, as it’s devastated many American communities and led to the abuse of workers in other countries, I have come to the conclusion that it’s a bad deal for America.”