Clinton sidesteps questions on trade deal
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Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Shontel Brown gaining ground against Nina Turner in Ohio: poll Biden hits trail for McAuliffe in test of his political brand MORE on Tuesday avoided taking a clear stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an emerging trade deal that has divided congressional Democrats.

During a campaign stop at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord, the 2016 hopeful was asked by MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell if she backed the trade deal.

"Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security. We have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive,” Clinton responded, avoiding a direct answer on the deal being negotiated with a dozen Pacific countries.


Clinton is facing heat over the deal, with critics noting she previously praised it as the "gold standard" of trade agreements, while touting the Obama administration-backed proposal in 2012.

“This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field,” she said during a 2012 trip to Australia.

At the time, she touted the TPP’s commitment to workers’ rights and environmental protections.

“If we do this right, and that's what we're trying to do, then globalization, which is inevitable, can become a race to the top with rising standards of living and more broadly shared prosperity," Clinton had said.

But liberal groups aren’t on board with the treaty and claim the current framework won’t accomplish those goals.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whom many progressive groups are pushing to challenge Clinton in the 2016 race, bashed the deal in a Washington Post op-ed in February, saying it “would allow big multinationals to weaken labor and environmental rules.

Warren also criticized the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) language in the deal, which would allow businesses to more easily settle trade disputes. She described it as a pseudo-court system that would trample on U.S. sovereignty.

Clinton previously criticized those measures in her 2014 book Hard Choices, according to Politico in Europe, but also repeated her support for the overall deal in general in that memoir.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is floating his own Democratic presidential bid, criticized Clinton’s hesitation to take a stance at a rally Monday in Washington that included a banner showing the TPP inside of a Trojan horse.

"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?” he said, according to CNN.

“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.”