President Barack Obama is taking the fight for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to America’s streets — directly countering the fusillades from Donald Trump and, increasingly, from Hillary Clinton.
The White House is making an all-out push to win passage of the deal in the lame-duck session of Congress, organizing 30 events over the congressional recess to gin up support for the agreement, considered key to Obama’s strategy to counter China in the Asia-Pacific region. The strategy is to offer support and cover to the small flock of Democrats who supported legislation to fast-track the deal and to remind wavering Republicans that they oppose it at their own peril because of its strong business support.
Despite his embrace of Clinton, Obama has been unwilling to abandon a deal that he regards as central to his legacy simply to avoid political fallout for her campaign. Although Clinton came out against the deal last fall, she supported it while secretary of state, making her vulnerable to attacks — first from Bernie Sanders and now from Donald Trump — that her opposition is politically motivated and therefore changeable.
“Well, right now, I’m president, and I’m for it,” Obama said at a news conference earlier this month. “And I think I’ve got the better argument. And I’ve made this argument before. I’ll make it again: We are part of a global economy. We’re not reversing that.”