First lady records show Clinton promoted NAFTA

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 19, 2008 7:30pm EDT

1 of 2. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addresses supporters during a campaign stop at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6669 in Huntington, West Virginia March 19, 2008. REUTER/John Sommers II

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton now argues that the North American Free Trade Agreement needs to be renegotiated, but newly released records showed on Wednesday she promoted its passage.

The National Archives and the Clinton presidential library jointly released more than 11,000 pages of Clinton's daily schedule as first lady from 1993 to 2001.

The release came in response to charges that she is overly secretive, and also allowed her campaign to promote her argument that she gained valuable White House experience during her years as first lady.

Clinton and Obama are battling to win Pennsylvania on April 22, the next contest in a closely fought campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to face Republican John McCain in the November election.

The documents clearly indicated that Clinton had a powerful role at the White House, frequently meeting foreign leaders and presiding over meetings.

The NAFTA agreement, linking trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico, was considered a major accomplishment by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

But now many Americans blame the agreement for the loss of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

NAFTA has become such an issue on the Democratic presidential campaign trail that both Clinton and rival Barack Obama have vowed to renegotiate it.

The former first lady's records showed first lady Clinton worked on behalf of the accord.

Among the thousands of details of daily life for Clinton, there was a November 10, 1993, entry -- a "NAFTA Briefing drop-by," in Room 450 of the executive office building next door to the White House, closed to the news media.

Approximately 120 people were expected to attend the briefing, and Clinton was to be introduced by White House aide Alexis Herman for brief remarks concluding the program.

LEWINSKY, RICH REMINDERS

The documents, while a mundane accounting of Clinton's daily movements, brought back some reminders of the Clintons' White House tenure.

On January 26, 1998, for example, the day Bill Clinton declared "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," Monica Lewinsky, first lady Clinton had a busy day, including a round-table discussion with students from her alma mater, Wellesley College.

Later she went to New York for an education event, and spent the night at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The weather forecast on that day's schedule said, "Mostly cloudy. High 37. Low 27.

When Hillary Clinton appeared at a January 1999 event at the Kennedy Center, it was Beth Dozoretz who escorted her to her seat, according to the records.

Dozoretz two years later was reportedly linked to a last-minute drive that succeeded in persuading President Clinton to grant a pardon to fugitive financier Marc Rich, a decision that has haunted Clinton in his post-White House days.

The documents also showed the first lady got herself quickly immersed in what would be a failed attempt to revamp the U.S. health care system.

Clinton's first known meeting to discuss health care came just three days after President Clinton's January 20, 1993, inauguration, according to the records.

(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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