Luciana Lopez and Amanda Becker write the following for Reuters:
When it comes to trade policy, Hillary Clinton is taking heat from all sides.
At the Democratic National Convention this week, where Clinton will formally accept her party’s presidential nomination, opposition to trade deals was plastered on buttons, scrawled on signs and chanted by delegates. Many are worried by her past support of 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is still awaiting congressional approval.
Things are unlikely to get any easier for her. Clinton has said her stance on trade has evolved, that she now opposes TPP because it does not do enough to protect jobs and that she wants changes in NAFTA, the trade deal her husband, Bill Clinton, signed during his presidency.
But that allows her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, to question her credibility, painting Clinton’s evolving position as a desperate attempt to catch up with his tough stance.
Trump has vowed to force Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA, labeling it a job killer. The real estate developer has also said he would pull the United States out of the 12-nation TPP.
Even among the Democrats there are doubts about Clinton’s resolve, particularly among supporters of her former Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, the U.S. Senator from Vermont whose opposition to trade deals featured prominently in his speeches during the Democratic primary season.
The concern about trade was on display at the convention during a speech delivered on Wednesday night by Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, a U.S. senator from Virginia who once supported TPP. Delegates waved anti-TPP placards as Kaine spoke, even though he changed his position after joining Clinton’s ticket.
Larry Cohen, a senior adviser to Sanders, said trade was “absolutely” a danger for Clinton in the race against Trump, saying she had to show her commitment to opposing it and not just “make pronouncements.”
“The Trump campaign is smart enough that they will exploit this issue,” Cohen said.
Sanders supporters have said they intend to keep fighting TPP through the November election via a new group called “Our Revolution” that is dedicated to championing issues that Sanders pushed on the campaign trail.
The frustration that a post-recession recovery has failed to translate into better wages and opportunities for million of working Americans has become one of the leading themes of the 2016 presidential campaign.
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