LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – While Democrat presidential candidates complain that too many jobs are going overseas, the last Democrat to hold the office is having a Scottish firm build nearly $1 million worth of cabinets for his presidential library. [More below]
The foundation building the $160 million Bill Clinton Presidential Library says limited choices forced it to look overseas for the specialized museum cases.
Skip Rutherford, the foundation's president, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he and others involved in the project had "worked hard to make sure that Arkansans and then Americans received the work."
Nonetheless, exhibit fabricators Maltbie Associates of Mount Laurel, N.J., subcontracted the manufacturing of 85 glass display cases to Netherfield Visuals of Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. The contract was worth about $936,000.
Rutherford and library construction manager Jonathan Semans said they were not aware of any other foreign subcontractors. But they said they had not compiled a list and could not be sure.
They downplayed the significance of hiring a foreign company for what they called a small part of a project that employs 1,500 people. Rutherford said it was "a stretch" to suggest that hiring the Scottish firm contradicted promises by Clinton's fellow Democrats to combat President Bush's free-trade policies, which they say have allowed too many jobs to go overseas.
"I don't think a subcontract on a major museum project is setting international trade policy," Rutherford said.
But Lindsay Taylor, a spokeswoman for Republican National Committee, said if Democrat presidential hopefuls Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina wanted to criticize Bush, they could not ignore the Clinton library subcontract.
"Call me crazy, but something tells me [they] won't be highlighting the Clinton library giving jobs to Scotland during their campaign speeches," Taylor said.
Kerry, the front-runner in the Democrats' presidential race, attacked Bush's policies in a speech Wednesday in Cleveland and promised to make companies disclose all exported jobs to the government if he's elected president. He has, however, defended his vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement, although at other times has called for "revisiting" NAFTA.
Semans noted the Scottish firm had already performed work for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington; the Liberty Bell Center, National Constitution Center and Independence Visitors Center in Philadelphia; and the California Museum of Science and Industry.
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