September 10, 2017 11:19 am

‘We’re the big dog in this fight,’ congressman Kevin Cramer says of NAFTA

Trump knows he’s the big dog in NAFTA negotiations: Cramer

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When it comes to dealing with U.S. President Donald Trump, one of his closest allies in the Republican party has one central piece of advice: read the book.

Republican congressman Kevin Cramer, a huge Trump supporter who recently spent time with the president on Air Force One, sat down this weekend with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos to talk NAFTA, pipelines and continental energy security.

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“I think we’re all sort of learning how President Trump communicates and how he negotiates,” said Cramer, who was himself blindsided by the president last week when the Trump unexpectedly signed off on extending the U.S. debt limit.

“The first thing I’d say is read the book … read (The) Art of the Deal, you’ll have a better sense of things.”

The book, published in 1987 with help from a ghostwriter, outlines how Trump prefers to approach negotiations from a position of power. His threats to pull out of NAFTA or scrap the agreement are attempts to seize that position of power, Cramer explained.

“He generally comes to a position where there’s success,” the congressman added. “When it comes time to pull the trigger, to make the deal, he is not nearly as rigid or as ideological. That said, I’m not his negotiator and I’m not speaking for him.

WATCH: Trump says his administration will probably terminate NAFTA

Cramer said Trump “intuitively understands that we’re the big dog in this fight, that the United States economy is the $20 trillion economy and that access to our economy is more valuable to just about everybody else than theirs is to us … The key (for Canada) is to know when to stop pushing.”

Cramer, of North Dakota, also addressed the ongoing push to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta south to Nebraska. Trump helped the project clear a major hurdle with an executive order earlier this year.

“I do see it getting done,” Cramer said, noting the strong support in U.S. states and the fact that America will always prefer to get oil from north of the border rather than from countries like Venezuela, which are subject to much more instability.

READ MORE: No firm timeline for Keystone XL despite Trump’s blessing, says TransCanada CEO

“I think it’s really important that we take a continental energy security view,” Cramer added.

“While the United States provides a great deal of (energy) security for the continent, Canada has natural resources that actually supplement and add to that security.”

Trump has already proven a big proponent of burden sharing when it comes to security and NATO, he noted, so it makes sense that the president would be open to the same kind of burden-sharing when it comes to energy security.

Watch the full interview with congressman Kevin Cramer above.

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