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Clinton must also oppose President Obama's push for a vote on the TPP during Congress' lame duck session, progressives argue. (Photo: Susan Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

Clinton Must More Forcefully Reject TPP or Risk Losing Election: Groups

As Hillary Clinton prepares to lay out economic policy in Michigan on Thursday, progressives demand candidate call for rejection of trade deal

Nika Knight

Following in Donald Trump's always-controversial footsteps, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will give a much-anticipated speech on her economic policy plans in Michigan Thursday—and progressives nationwide are demanding Clinton use the opportunity to roundly reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

Clinton needs to do so in order to capture the votes of the working and middle classes, observers argue.

During her 1pm speech in the city of Warren, Clinton will have "to be very clear that she's opposed to the TPP," said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) on NPR's "Morning Edition" Thursday. "People are worried about that. Donald Trump is trying to mislead people and make them think that she won't. I said this to her last night: You've got to be strong on that today, and send that message to people very loud and clear."

Trump "talks about trade, and trade and lost jobs resonates in a state like Michigan," Dingell said. "I have constituents who, if you don't dig deeper with them, are supporting Trump."

Indeed, progressive voices are making the case to Clinton that she risks losing the November election if she doesn't convince voters nationwide of her anti-TPP stance—specifically, if she fails to push against President Barack Obama's attempt to have the trade agreement ratified during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress.

As Dave Johnson of Campaign for America's Future writes:

In spite of the opposition of much of the public, both presidential candidates, all of labor, almost all Democrats, all progressive-aligned consumer, human rights, environmental and other organizations and even the Tea Party right, what is happening here is that Wall Street, the multinational corporations, most Republicans and unfortunately President Obama are preparing to insult democracy by pushing to ratify TPP. This undermines Clinton's credibility while campaigning for election, and if it passes it harms her ability to govern if she is elected.

And Adam Green, founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) said in a press statement: "in advance Clinton's economic speech Thursday [...] we expect her to keep the volume high on numerous top progressive priorities."

"In fact, the best way for Clinton and Kaine to win support from Republican voters is by keeping the volume high on progressive bread-and-butter economic issues that are popular with Republican, Independent, and Democratic voters," Green added. "For that reason, it is important for Clinton to consistently make clear that she opposes the TPP, including in a lame-duck Congress."

PCCC and other progressive groups are circulating several petitions that demand Clinton push the White House to oppose a lame-duck vote on the controversial trade deal.

Social change network CREDO Action also put together a video compilation of Clinton's own statements against the TPP—featuring speeches Clinton has given from October 2015 to July 2016—demanding she support her words with concrete action.

Many progressives, however, harbor doubts about the legitimacy of Clinton's promises: "Along with [Terry] McAuliffe, who is the governor of Virginia, Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue has said she will reverse herself," Johnson notes. "And it was Clinton delegates who blocked putting specific TPP opposition in the Democratic platform. So yes, there is a credibility problem."

Clinton campaign officials later attempted to distance the former secretary of state from McAuliffe's comments.

In contrast to Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein have both made opposition to the TPP a central tenet of their respective campaigns.

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