Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of the Clinton family, said this week that Hillary Clinton would support the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) if elected president, despite claiming to oppose it—before walking the comments back and then doubling down on them again.
In a video interview that aired Wednesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," anchor Andrea Mitchell asked McAuliffe, "Governor, you understand that when Bernie Sanders supporters don't trust Hillary Clinton to live up to her commitments, that when you, one of her closest friends...when you say that she would go along with TPP once elected—"
"No, no, no," McAuliffe said, cutting her off. "To be very clear, she would only go forward if the changes that she wants are implemented, that everybody's in agreement, the labor folks would be in agreement...she's not going forward as it is today."
"But I'm in the same position where Senator [Tim] Kaine is," he continued, referring to Clinton's running mate, who came out against TPP in its current form after previously speaking positively about the deal without explicitly endorsing it. "We don't support it unless she says the changes that she wants are made. So unless the changes are made, she doesn't support it. President [Barack] Obama does want this, as you know."
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The comments seemed to clarify another statement McAuliffe, a TPP supporter, made after his speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, when he told Politico, "I worry that if we don't do TPP, at some point China's going to break the rules—but Hillary understands this. Once the election's over, and we sit down on trade, people understand a couple things we want to fix on it but going forward we got to build a global economy."
That interview prompted a swell of criticism from both TPP opponents and the Clinton team. Her campaign chairman John Podesta tweeted in response, "Love Gov. McAuliffe, but he got this one flat wrong. Hillary opposes TPP BEFORE and AFTER the election. Period. Full stop."
The governor's spokesperson, Brian Coy, issued a statement that McAuliffe was "expressing a hope she will come around. But he has no expectation she will."
Yet McAuliffe's comments suggested otherwise, Mitchell said Wednesday morning. "I kept asking him about, what signal does this send to the Bernie Sanders people, and he said, she'll change it, but as long as the president wants it, we're going forward," she told the "Morning Joe" panel.
"Sounds like it's full steam ahead," host Joe Scarborough replied.