Hillary joins Democrats against Pacific trade deal
WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 8
Hillary Rodham Clinton has joined her Democratic presidential rivals in opposing President Barack Obama’s Pacific trade deal, delivering a major blow to a Democratic president as she works to court her party’s liberal base.The now-united opposition from the Democratic presidential field leaves Mr. Obama in the uncomfortable position of watching a Democratic presidential debate next week in which none of the major candidates is willing to defend a deal that the White House sees as a key piece of his presidential legacy. “I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made,” Ms. Clinton said in a statement. “But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.”
Ms. Clinton promoted the deal in dozens of appearances as secretary of state during Mr. Obama’s first term in office a turnaround that was not lost on her primary opponents.
Ms. Clinton’s support for trade deals has seemed to fluctuate with the political calendar.
As first lady, she trumpeted the North American deal brokered by her husband, telling unionized garment workers in 1996 that the agreement was “proving its worth.”
In that vein, she said she opposed then-pending trade agreements with Korea, Columbia, and Panama. But fast-forward to July 2011 when, as secretary of state, she described those three deals as “critical to our economic recovery.”
She also repeatedly lent her support to the Pacific trade initiative being pushed by Mr. Obama, at that time, describing the deal during a 2012 trip to Australia as the “gold standard in trade agreements.”
Ms. Clinton aides know she must tread lightly when it comes to criticising Mr. Obama, given that much of her strategy relies on the still-loyal coalition of African-Americans, Latinos, women and younger voters that twice elected Mr. Obama. But at the same time, they say she must find ways to distinguish herself and undercut Republican attacks that Ms. Clinton would simply provide a third Obama term.