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Despite Convention Jeers, Obama to Continue TPP

Trade issues continue to pit president against presidential ticket

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders hold signs expressing opposition to a massive trade deal with Asian countries during the Democratic National Convention. (CQ Roll Call photo)
Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders hold signs expressing opposition to a massive trade deal with Asian countries during the Democratic National Convention. (CQ Roll Call photo)

Despite public admonishment of his Asian trade deal by some Democrats at the party’s convention this week, President Barack Obama continues to keep pushing for its approval.  

“No,” Eric Schultz , principal deputy White House press secretary, responded flatly Friday when asked if the Democratic National Convention jeers had convinced Obama to drop his efforts to get floor votes on his Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after the Nov. 8 elections.  

The president still “believes it is good policy for American businesses and American workers,” Schultz said, adding Obama “absolutely” still wants both chambers to sign off on the proposed pact “this year.”  

During the party’s confab in Philadelphia , numerous speakers were interrupted as supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., yelled anti-trade sentiments and waved signs with the letters “TPP” crossed out.  


Progress — and Setbacks — In Democratic Push for Unity


And Sanders, who made his staunch opposition to the Asian pact and others like it a central part of his Democratic primary fight against eventual presidential nominee Hillary Clinton , took a swipe at it when he addressed the convention on Monday night.  

“I’m happy to tell you that [within] the Democratic Platform Committee there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced by far the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party,” Sanders told delegates.  

“It … calls for strong opposition to job-killing trade agreements like the TPP,” he said to loud applause from his backers inside the city’s large basketball and hockey arena. “We have got to make sure that TPP does not get to the floor of the Congress in the lame-duck session,” he added, to his supporters’ even louder approval.  

As she battled with Sanders’ surprisingly powerful bid, Clinton, who helped with early TPP negotiations as Obama’s first secretary of state, announced her opposition. Her eventual running mate, typically pro-trade Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, in recent days cited the need to rewrite some parts in flipping to opposed.  


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Obama has gotten the message, but isn’t backing down.  

“He is completely understanding of the of the complexities around the politics of the issue that previous trade deals have not lived up to the hype,” Schultz said. “That’s precisely why he directed his negotiating team to insist on the strongest, most robust human rights, labor, and environmental standards ever to be seen in a trade deal.  

“So the president is acutely aware of the politics around this, but that’s not going to stop him from getting this done,” he said. “Our focus has been on generating votes in the United States Congress , both in the House and in the Senate. The president absolutely believes this deal should pass this year.”  

Contact Bennett at Follow him on Twitter @BennettJohnT.

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