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  November 10th, 2015 | Written by

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Where do the Presidential Candidates Stand?

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  • Most of the presidential candidates’ opinions on TPP were formed well before the release of the text.
  • The Democratic presidential candidates all oppose TPP, Hilary Clinton having come to that position rather recently.
  • A few of the Republican presidential candidates’ views on TPP are not clear.
  • Donald Trump on TPP: “a terrible deal," “insanity,” “a giveaway to China.”
  • Jeb Bush on TPP: “This is a great deal for America. It would strengthen our ties to our allies.”
  • Bernie Sanders on TPP: "a job killer."

Although the Obama administration released the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal only last week, most of the presidential candidates’ opinions on the issue have been formed and articulated well before that milestone.

The Democrats all oppose the deal, Hilary Clinton having come to that position rather recently, while Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have staked-out long-standing opposition to the accord. A few of the Republicans’ views on the subject are not clear.

Among the Republicans, Donald Trump has been on record opposing the TPP since April, when he tweeted, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an attack on America’s business. It does not stop Japan’s currency manipulation. This is a bad deal.” More recently, he tweeted, “TPP is a terrible deal,” and, in an interview, called it “insanity” and “a giveaway to China.”

Ben Carson didn’t support giving President Obama fast-track approval for TPP, but now that the full text has been released, the Wall Street Journal reported that Carson has given almost a full-throated approval to the deal, saying, through a spokesperson, that TPP “does help to level the playing field in key markets” and serves “as a counterbalance to China’s influence in the region.”

Marco Rubio is on record supporting the TPP–he even supported giving Obama fast track approval—but of late has waffled on the issue. The WSJ reported that Rubio “has not decided whether to support TPP legislation.” His campaign website says he would “move forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other free trade agreements that strengthen our strategic ties with our other partners in Asia.”

Jeb Bush has not shied away from supporting TPP, writing in an op-ed earlier this year, “This is a great deal for America. It would strengthen our ties to our allies throughout the Pacific region, including our close allies and partners in Australia, Mexico and Japan….More than that, free trade is essential to creating sustained… growth.”

John Kasich told CBS News that TPP is “good for the U.S. not only in terms of economics but in terms of foreign policy.” Although generally positive, he is not committed to supporting the deal.

Rand Paul voted against giving Obama fast track authority but has said he could vote for TPP after studying the details.

Carly Fiorina says she believes in free trade but that she is “very uncomfortable” with TPP. She is reserving judgment until she has been briefed on the details.

Ted Cruz supports free trade in principal and initially supported fast-track authority. He changed his mind on fast track and became one of only five Republicans in the Senate to vote against it. Cruz’s campaign website is non-committal on the issue of TPP.

Although Hillary Clinton ostensibly supported TPP when she served the Obama administration as secretary of state, she more recently has come out against the agreement. “New trade deals,” she says on her campaign website, “have to create good American jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security.” But there’s not enough in TPP that that cracks down on currency manipulation, “which kills American jobs.”

Martin O’Malley opposes TPP, also on grounds of currency manipulation and its failure to protect the rights of U.S. workers.

Bernie Sanders has opposed free trade agreements since NAFTA. TPP, he says on his campaign website, “is a disastrous, job-killing free trade agreement that makes it easier for corporations to ship jobs to countries like Vietnam.”