Speaking Thursday in Michigan, a state he described as "devastated" by the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said that on "one of the most important issues facing working people"—trade—he and his rival Hillary Clinton "have very different points of view."
As he's been doing for months, Sanders drew attention to his own consistent opposition to corporate-friendly, "job-killing" trade deals, juxtaposing his record with that of the former secretary of state, who only came out against the Trans Pacific Partnership last fall after having once called it "the gold standard in trade agreements."
"A campaign is not about what you said yesterday. It is about what you have stood for your entire career. On one of the most important issues facing working people, Secretary Hillary Clinton and I have very different points of view," Sanders said at a press conference East Lansing, where he was reportedly flanked by union members.
In supporting trade deals like NAFTA, he continued, "She was very, very wrong and millions of families across the country have been suffering."
U.S. trade policy is a "key issue in the upcoming Michigan primary" on Tuesday, the Washington Post pointed out—a fact Sanders acknowledged in his speech.
"Everyone understands what these disastrous trade agreements are all about," Sanders said. "The results are clear. You look at Detroit. Look at Flint. Our trade policies have failed."
In fact, the campaign claims "no city in the United States has been more devastated by unfettered free trade than Flint, Michigan," where since 1978, General Motors has eliminated more than 72,000 jobs. Today, one quarter of Flint residents have an annual income of less than $15,000 and 65 percent of the children live in poverty.
NAFTA "turned a prosperous middle-class city, where residents could own a home, raise a family and retire with security, into a place where good jobs are scarce and extreme poverty is high," Sanders charged.
Earlier this week, the campaign released a 30-second ad with a similar message.
In response to statements Clinton made about U.S. manufacturing this week in New York City, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver doubled down in a statement also released Thursday.
"At a rally on Wednesday former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told those gathered, 'Don’t let anybody tell you we can’t make anything in America anymore,'" Weaver said. "What she failed to tell the audience is that she has been a consistent advocate of the job-killing trade deals that have contributed to the loss of nearly 60,000 factories in the United States and almost 5 million manufacturing jobs over the last 15 years."
"Election year conversions won't bring back American jobs," he said, noting that her "conversion" on trade might not even stick.
"Tom Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and strong supporter of these job-crushing trade deals, is not worried about Clinton getting in the way of this deal," Weaver declared. "He said he knows that if she’s elected she'll flip back to support it."
On Wednesday, the White House released its annual trade agenda, which lists passing the TPP as its top priority for 2016.