Hillary Clinton Denounces NAFTA and TPP in Awkward Policy Reversal

By Published on August 12, 2016

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton visited Metro-Detroit on Thursday in a tightly controlled campaign event at a manufacturing company, where she denounced NAFTA and TPP, two trade deals she has emphatically supported in the past.

Clinton spoke to a closed group of employees and Democratic Party leaders at Futuramic Tool & Engineering in Warren, Michigan which is Detroit’s largest suburb and considered the birthplace of Reagan Democrats.

Clinton attempted to contrast her vision for Michigan and the country from Donald Trump, who visited Detroit on Monday. During the speech, Clinton said that, “He [Donald Trump] talked only of failure, poverty, and crime. He’s missing so much about what makes Michigan great.” Clinton offered positive language; “We are resilient, determined, hard-working. There is nothing America can’t do – if we do it together,” she said as she advanced her theme of “stronger together.”

Clinton and her team are making a significant effort to court voters in places like Macomb County, in an effort to shore up her support among working class whites who may be turned off by her previous support for trade deals and the general aura of mistrust that follows the Clinton’s wherever they go.

Warren is the county seat of Macomb County, whose large population of working-class, socially conservative whites supported Reagan in 1980, breaking with their tradition of supporting Democrats. Figures like Pat Buchanan have done well in Macomb County, who are often gravitated towards conservative populism. If Donald Trump expects to make a play for Michigan, he will need to run up the score in the blue collar, working class suburbs that border Detroit.

During her speech, Clinton promised investment and support into “high quality union training programs” and community colleges. Clinton then pivoted to the issue of trade, and awkwardly acknowledged the elephant in the room,”Now, I imagine some of you – I’m sure some of you are thinking, Well, that all sounds good, but what about trade?” Clinton lost to Sanders in the Michigan primary, largely in part because her then-opponent, socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, blasted her previous support for trade deals like NAFTA and TPP, as well as her ties to Wall Street.

In her speech, Clinton admitted that, “It’s true that too often, past trade deals have been sold to the American people with rosy scenarios that did not pan out,” and acknowledged the communities across Michigan and the country that have seen factories close and jobs disappear.

Speaking to the closed group, Clinton placed the blame on the Bush administration, arguing that enforcement of our trade policies have been laxed, “particularly during the Bush administration.” Clinton seems to ignore a report released by Senator Elizabeth Warren who blamed weak trade policies and enforcement on “both Democratic and Republican presidents.”

Clinton promised to “stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages – including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” Contrary to her close confidant and current Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, who recently said that Clinton would support the TPP if elected president, Clinton stated that “I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as President.”

You can read Clinton’s full speech on jobs and the economy here.


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