One of the key issues early in the Democratic presidential primary was the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and with the emergence of trade as a major issue among supporters of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, it’s rearing its head again. While presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton came out against the trade pact in October of last year, Clinton’s opponents have long pointed to remarks she made as secretary of state in order to cast her opposition as a convenient political reversal. Video of one such remark has emerged, and promises to resurrect that criticism:
So it’s fair to say that our economies are entwined, and we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Australia is a critical partner. This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field. And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment.
Those remarks were made in November of 2012, and have been a much-bandied part of the public record since then, but the video makes the story fresh again, and has quickly become cable news fodder since it was posted by the RNC. It’s hardly the only example of Clinton promoting the trade deal, however. Here she is in Singapore about a week before the “gold standard” comment, talking up the TPP:
The so-called TPP will lower barriers, raise standards, and drive long-term growth across the region. It will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and establish strong protections for workers and the environment. Better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions, including for women, migrant workers and others too often in the past excluded from the formal economy will help build Asia’s middle class and rebalance the global economy.
On the plus side for Hillary is the fact that, as these remarks clearly illustrate, she was talking about a deal that was still in the works, and expressing the positions for which the presidential administration she represented were advocating. The only position Hillary Clinton has ever taken on the final Trans-Pacific Partnership deal has been in opposition to it. Her advocacy for the deal can fairly be chalked up to the fact that she was doing her job as a participant in the negotiations, and that there was no final deal to endorse or oppose at the time of her tenure as secretary of state.
In the minus column is the timing of Hillary’s announcement that she opposes the TPP, which came as Democratic rival Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was on the rise and pressuring her to take a position. For die-hard anti-traders, even that opposition means Hillary thought the TPP was at least in the ballpark, and could be lured back on board.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.