President Barack Obama defended his signature trade effort with Asia, explaining that he would continue to fight to pass the legislation, even though his party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, changed her mind to oppose it.
“Right now, I’m President, and I’m for it,” Obama told reporters who asked him about the languishing proposal that has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats running for office.
Obama held a press conference Tuesday with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, a key interest in moving the proposal forward.
The president appeared disappointed that both parties were campaigning on an anti-trade agenda, alluding to Hillary Clinton’s flipped position for political reasons.
“Hopefully, after the election is over and the dust settled, there will be more attention to the actual facts behind the deal, and it won’t just be a political symbol or a political football,” he said.
But Obama asserted that globalization would not be reversed, despite a growing populist political movement against his trade agenda.
“[T]he answer cannot be to back away from trade in the global economy,” Obama said. “It is here to stay. It’s not possible to cut ourselves off, given how integrated our economies are, and trying to pull up a drawbridge on trade would only hurt us and hurt our workers.”
He admitted that workers in the United States had “fears and anxieties” that they would be left behind in a global economy.
“These anxieties are legitimate. They can’t be ignored; they have to be taken seriously,” he said before ultimately dismissing them.