During a speech delivered at Nike’s headquarters Friday, President Obama expressed his discontent with his own party colleagues’ stance on Asia trade deal he was currently trying to negotiate. He said that the Democrats who opposed it were “just wrong” and “making stuff up.”
The President also explained that if negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership fail, its critics would only manage to “pull up the bridge and build a moat” around themselves.
He also told the crowd of 2,100 Nike workers that his fellow Democrats, whom he called “his friends,” were like “whupping” on him when talking about the Asia trade deal, although they agree with him on various issues from minimum wage to carbon dioxide reduction.
The chief of the state complained that “his friends” suspected him that there was a political stake in supporting a freer trade with the East, although he ran his last election. He also disclosed that the only reason he was lobbying for the agreement was the well-being of the U.S. workers and the nation’s economy.
“[…] on this issue, on trade, I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong. They’re just wrong,”
The Nike speech is the second public attempt of President Obama to push for the Asia trade deal since he requested from Congress fast-track authority, or extended negotiating authority on trade deals.
But he clearly lacks support from his fellow Democrats. So, he currently works on gaining their trust. And the visit at Nike’s headquarters was a move into that direction. Obama agreed with Nike that if the Asia trade deal was approved, the company would create nearly 10,000 jobs on U.S. soil.
Although the head of the state didn’t mention their names, he presumably was referring to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Harry M. Reid, two top Democrats that are currently trying to block the trade deal negotiations by all means necessary. Reid even said recently that he was so upset with President Obama’s political speech that he was ready to make even more efforts to block his long-sought authority on trade deal negotiation.
Other members of the party were also disturbed with Mr. Obama’s words. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said that the President was wrong for telling Democrats they were wrong or were making things up. She called such assumptions “throwaway lines” meant to “denigrate” congressional members.
Rep. Louise Slaughter argued that she and her colleagues were against a new trade deal because of the bitter experience they had with President Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the trade deals that followed. She also said that she would forgive Mr. Obama for his incisive speech since he doesn’t seem to grasp the larger picture.
On the other hand, she criticized him for switching his stance on trade deals since he launched his first presidential bid. Back then, he allied with trade agreement critics and promised a renegotiation of NAFTA for being “so bad.”
But in Mr. Obama’s case history seems to repeat itself. Eight years ago, President Bush delivered a similar speech nine months before his tenure was over. The topic of the discussion was immigration reform, which Democrats opposed. In the end, any negotiations with his critics collapsed.
Image Source: Washington Times