March 10, 2016

VIDEO: Obama Subtweets Clinton On Trade During Rose Garden Remarks

During his Rose Garden press conference President Barack Obama went out of his way to praise free trade. Obama went so far as to say to the trade skeptics in his party that “we cannot put up walls around a global economy.”

Once upon a time, Hillary Clinton would have agreed with the leader of her party. As Secretary of State Clinton was a strong advocate for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. CNN even chronicled the 45 times Clinton praised the trade deal, including the time Clinton called the agreement the “gold standard in trade agreements”:

“…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.”

Yet in October, facing a strong challenge from her left, Clinton flip-flopped on the trade deal, breaking with Obama in the process:

“Hillary Clinton said Wednesday she opposes the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, marking a significant break with the Obama Administration as she heads into the first Democratic presidential debate.”

Yet, Clinton’s flip-flop hasn’t helped in her contests in which anti-trade sentiments run high. According to exit polls, Sanders beat Clinton among Michigan voters who said “trade with other countries” takes away jobs by 15%.

Additionally, former Michigan Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer said Clinton’s trade message needs to improve:

“Brewer said Clinton will have to sharpen her pitch to blue collar voters to win upcoming primaries in states like Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania. ‘Michigan is the first of the states where she’s going to encounter the same type of issues,” he said. ‘She needs to come up with a better answer (on trade issues) than they came up with in Michigan.’”

Michigan voters must have caught on to the central fact of Clinton’s candidacy. While she might have said she now opposes free trade, Clinton will do or say anything to get elected.