Saturday night’s ABC Presidential debate marked the 8th consecutive Republican debate in which donor-class favorite Marco Rubio was not directly asked about his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
The failure of the ABC moderators to press Rubio on the issue is significant, as he is the only top-polling candidate who refuses to tell voters how he will vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Last year, Rubio endorsed the deal on multiple occasions. In an April 29 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Rubio wrote: “We must rebuild our own military capabilities, conclude and pass TPP, and renew our support for freedom and the rule of law in Asia.” In a May 13th address to the Council on Foreign Relations, Rubio said it is “more important than ever that Congress give the president trade promotion authority so that he can finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.” In that address, Rubio even went so far as to describe the globalist trade deal as the “second pillar” of a President Rubio’s three-pillar foreign policy.
Now, however, Rubio has said that he will not reveal how he will ultimately vote on the deal, which he previously endorsed, until May 18th, or later. This means that Rubio is now refusing to tell Republican voters whether he will vote for Obama’s trade deal until at least two months after Super Tuesday—i.e. after 44 states have already voted and Republican voters can no longer make their voices heard on the matter.
In contrast to Rubio’s refusal to tell the American people how he will vote on the TPP, Ted Cruz’s campaign has said that Cruz will not vote for the deal “in its current form.” Cruz had initially supported fast-tracking TPP — and even co-authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed with Paul Ryan in support of President Obama’s trade agenda. However, Cruz later reversed his position, citing concerns about the bill’s provisions regarding immigration law and the export-import bank.
Donald Trump’s aggressive opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and currency manipulation distinguishes him from his GOP rivals. In tonight’s debate, Trump — unlike Rubio — expressed his fierce opposition to the TPP, explaining that the deal “is going to be a disaster for this country.”