Kaine on trade deals: 'You never close the door'

Story highlights

  • Tim Kaine defended the Democratic ticket as open to trade agreements
  • Kaine argued he and Clinton did not flip-flop on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Washington (CNN)Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine says he and Hillary Clinton "aren't against trade."

Both Clinton and Kaine had previously supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- a 12-nation trade pact negotiated by President Barack Obama's administration -- but announced their opposition once the deal was finalized, in the heat of the 2016 campaign.
In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, Kaine said the two wouldn't reject the possibility of a future Asia-Pacific trade agreement.
    "You never close the door if you can get a deal that's going to be good for American workers and our economy," the Virginia senator said. "We aren't against trade."
    "We want to find export markets for American businesses because they'll be able to add workers the more they export," he said. "That's very important. And whether it's in Asia or in Europe, if we can find deals that meet those goals, more jobs, higher wages, and good for natural security, and good enforcement provisions, we're open to them."
    Republican rival Donald Trump, however, has made his opposition to trade deals a cornerstone of his campaign, calling NAFTA -- the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by Bill Clinton -- one of the worst deals ever.
    Kaine argued that Clinton -- who called the Trans-Pacific Partnership a "gold standard" trade deal as secretary of state in 2012 -- didn't flip-flop by announcing her opposition once the deal was done.
    He pointed to his own decision to vote for "trade promotion authority," which gave Obama the power he needed to finalize the agreement and submit it to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no amendments, in 2015 -- even though he ultimately opposed the final deal.
    "I had put on the record in 2015 the concerns that I had, especially about the enforcement provisions. Those concerns were not addressed," he said.
    Kaine said if he is still in the Senate during a post-election lame duck session, he would oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership.