Hillary Rodham Clinton is likely to flip-flop on her opposition to Pacific trade if elected president, a Clinton biographer and New York Times White House reporter said Tuesday.
Mark Landler, author of Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power, reminded an audience that she has changed positions on NAFTA and that she is unlikely to be an anti-trade president despite her pronouncements.
Speaking at the Washington-based German Marshall Fund of the U.S., Landler said that Clinton has put herself in a pickle on trade and the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty negotiated while she was secretary of State but which she opposes.
"It's a little bit puzzling to me how Hillary's going to back off the position she's taken on TPP. But it is worth noting that Hillary's flip flopped before on NAFTA," he said.
"You know, she's expressed misgivings about NAFTA in a way, and I think that, you know, you'll never get anyone in the campaign to talk about this on any grounds, on or off the record, but I assume that what will happen if she were elected and TPP has not passed in a lame duck Congress, is that she will try to tweak this in a couple of places and pick it up again and sort of argue, 'I have now addressed the deficiencies in TPP, I'm willing to proceed with it," the correspondent added.
He also shrugged off the Clinton campaign's anti-trade talk. "I don't believe this anti-free trade rhetoric that's sort of dominated this campaign will necessarily be a hallmark of her presidency, at all. But the trick of how she's going to navigate that is an interesting one," he said.
And apparently, the other half of his acclaimed book agrees. He noted that when Clinton announced her opposition to TPP, there was "a lot of anger and some betrayal" felt in the White House.
But, he added, "There was also some eye-rolling. I think President Obama was in the category of those who thought, 'Yeah, she's a politician. I'm not sure I expected more.'"
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org