Clinton Waited to Oppose TPP ‘Because I Did Want to Give the Benefit of The Doubt to the Administration’

By Patrick Goodenough | February 5, 2016 | 4:25am EST
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, and Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by MSNBC at the University of New Hampshire Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Durham, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

( – Hillary Clinton said in Thursday’s Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire that she waited to see the outcome of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership before coming out in opposition – although as secretary of state she voiced enthusiasm for the trade deal on numerous occasions.

“I did hope that the TPP, negotiated by this administration, would put to rest a lot of the concerns that many people have expressed about trade agreements,” she said.

“And I said that I was holding out that hope that it would be the kind of trade agreement that I was looking for. I waited until it had actually been negotiated because I did want to give the benefit of the doubt to the administration. Once I saw what the outcome was, I opposed it.”

Clinton served as secretary of state for four years, beginning on 21, 2009. The first formal round of negotiations for the TPP began in March 2010, and during Clinton’s tenure a further 15 rounds – out of a total 19 – were held.

(The 19 formal rounds were followed by a series of meetings at chief negotiator and ministerial levels, culminating in final agreement last October. The TPP was signed in New Zealand on Thursday.)

As secretary of state, Clinton frequently spoke favorably about the TPP – which groups the U.S. with 11 other nations on either side of the Pacific – on one occasion saying on a visit to Australia in late 2012 that it set “the gold standard in trade agreements.”

Elsewhere during that same visit, Clinton said the TPP “will lower trade barriers, raise labor and environmental standards, and drive growth across the region.”

And days later in Singapore – another TPP partner – she said the trade deal “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.”

Clinton formally declared her campaign for the presidency on April 12, 2015.

Three months later she declared her opposition to the TPP.

Last June CNN published an article listing 45 times Clinton voiced support for the TPP between January 2010 and the end of her tenure at the State Department.

On Thursday night, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd recalled that Clinton had supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the 1990s but then opposed it when running for president in 2008.

Noting that she now opposes the TPP, he asked whether Democrats could expect that once she is in the White House she would support it again.

Although she did not answer the question directly, she did say that “there are changes that I believe would make a real difference if they could be achieved, but I do not currently support it as it is written.”

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said last October that the TPP would not be open for renegotiation.

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