20080702 mccain colombia 81793867 18
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain speaks during a joint press conference with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (background) at a military base in Cartagena, Colombia -- July 2, 2008 - 


Scott Jagow: John McCain is in Colombia today. Not South Carolina -- South America. McCain supports a free trade deal with Colombia. Barack Obama does not. Dan Grech has more from our America's Desk at WLRN.

Dan Grech: Trade between the U.S. and Colombia last year was $18 billion. The country is our fourth-largest trading partner in Latin America, and a key political ally.

But a free trade deal with Colombia is stalled in Congress. Democrats, including Obama, say Colombia needs to reduce violence against labor leaders.

Michael Shifter: McCain wants to show that Obama and the Democratic Party are abandoning close allies like Colombia.

That's Michael Shifter with the Inter-American Dialogue. He says the Colombian free trade pact is unlikely to come up for a vote until after the election in November. Building support now will be difficult for McCain.

Shifter: The timing, I think, is unfortunate, given the bad economic news in the United States. And it's unclear whether this is really a winning issue, right now, to talk about the virtues of free trade.

McCain's next stop is Mexico, where he's going to be touting another issue with little political resonance: the war on drugs.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.