clock menu more-arrow no yes

Clinton ally: she will back TPP. Clinton campaign: no, we won't, we promise!

Democratic National Convention: Day Two
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Politico describes Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe as a "longtime best friend to the Clintons," but that friendship may become strained after they read his remarks about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While Hillary Clinton has maintained her opposition to the TPP since last year, McAuliffe suggested that she would eventually accept the deal with modest changes.

"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," McAuliffe said. Politico pressed him on whether Clinton would support a deal after campaigning against it, and McAuliffe said yes. "Listen, she was in support of it. There were specific things in it she wants fixed."

McAuliffe’s remarks couldn’t have come at a worse time for the newly minted Democratic nominee. For weeks, Clinton has been trying to convince supporters of Bernie Sanders to back her candidacy. Last fall, in an apparent concession to labor unions, which generally agree with Sanders’s views on trade, she switched positions and declared herself a TPP opponent.

Even before McAuliffe’s comments, Bernie backers doubted the sincerity of Clinton’s anti-TPP position. After all, her husband signed the controversial World Trade Organization and NAFTA trade agreements during his presidency. Clinton’s running mate, former Gov. Tim Kaine, was making positive comments about the TPP as recently as last week. And in 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the TPP "sets the gold standard in trade agreements."

So on Monday night, Bernie-backing delegates were already holding anti-TPP signs on the convention floor and shouting anti-TPP chants. With his comments, McAuliffe poured gasoline on this already smoldering fire.

Of course, Clinton surrogate John Podesta immediately jumped in to contradict McAuliffe’s prediction. But his denial is likely to ring hollow for people who already suspected that Clinton wasn’t on their side of the trade debate.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.