Vermont Senator and potential presidential contender Bernie Sanders is calling on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton “to be clear” on President Barack Obama’s trade policy.
At a protest just outside the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office near the White House on Monday, Sanders blasted Obama’s proposals for fast-track trade promotional authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership that is aimed at opening up new markets across Asia.
“We want a congress that stands … not for corporate America and the billionaire class,” Sanders told the hundreds of protesters gathered for the demonstration which featured a Trojan horse bearing the letters “TPP.”
Asked about Hillary Clinton’s past support for the Pacific trade deal, Sanders unloaded on the former Secretary of State.
“She’s going to have to be clear. It’s not a question of watching this. You’re going to have determine which side are you on? Are you on the side of working people who would suffer as a result of this disastrous trade agreement, and seeing their jobs go to China or Mexico, or are you on the side of corporate America? It’s not a very difficult choice,” Sanders said.
Clinton’s critics have seized on comments the Secretary of State made in 2012 when she touted the Trans-Pacific Agreement during an official trip to Australia.
“We need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP,” Clinton said then.
But in a nod to anxiety in the Democratic party base to such agreements, Clinton has sounded less enthusiastic about Obama’s trade proposals.
A Clinton spokesman noted in a statement Friday that the Democratic candidate will insist that new trade measures both protect American workers and protect national security.
“We shouldn’t be giving special rights to corporations at the expense of workers and consumers,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said.
At a news conference last Friday, Obama urged members of Congress to give him fast-track authority to pursue trade agreements including the TPP. The President acknowledged many in his party remain adamantly opposed to his latest moves on expanding trade.
“The politics around trade has always been tough, particularly in the Democratic party, because people have memories of outsourcing and job loss,” Obama said.
Sanders shrugged off the President’s continued support for expanding trade agreements.
“It’s disappointing but not surprising,” the independent Senator said.