Obama attends Congressional Baseball Game amid trade battle

Obama attends Congressional Baseball Game amid trade battle
© Greg Nash
President Obama dropped by the Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday evening as he makes a last-minute pitch to lawmakers to pass his trade agenda. 
 
The president showed up at the annual contest between Republicans and Democrats at Nationals Park in Washington, one day before the House will vote on a series of key trade bills. 
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The White House framed the visit as an opportunity to spend time with lawmakers in a casual setting before the big vote. 
 
While at the game, the president will "watch part of the game and visit with the elected officials in attendance," according to a White House official. 
 
Obama arrived during the third inning and was spotted inside the Democrats’ dugout with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and manager Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), an opponent of a critical fast-track trade bill.
 
Obama then walked over to the Republicans’ dugout. As he strode across the field, fans in the GOP section chanted “TPA,” an acronym for the fast-track trade bill that will be voted on Friday. Obama gave a smile and a thumbs-up. 
 
Fans in the Democrats’ fan section chanted “four more years!”
 
The president stayed for approximately 30 minutes and left with the Democrats leading 3-1. The last play Obama saw was Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is vying to replace him in the White House, strike out.
 
The president’s surprise appearance at the baseball game caps a day of aggressive lobbying by the White House, aimed at convincing House Democrats to back a program helping workers who lose their jobs because of trade.
 
Top White House officials, including chief of staff Denis McDonough, spent the day on Capitol Hill pleading with House Democrats to back the measure. Obama also made phone calls to lawmakers. 
 
Democrats usually are more supportive of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), but they see an opportunity to kill fast-track trade legislation by voting against TAA.
 
Because of the process used to consider the trade bills in the House, a defeat for either fast-track or TAA could cause the entire trade package to collapse.
 
That would imperil Obama’s effort to reach a sweeping 12-nation trade deal with Pacific Rim nations that’s at the top of his second-term agenda.
 
Before the game, the White House circulated a fact-sheet Thursday touting the benefits of TAA, which include employment services and job retraining. 
 
If a fraction of the workers participating in TAA instead left the labor force, it would reduce annual gross domestic product by $5 billion over the next six years, the White House claims. 
 
— Greg Nash and Hannah Krueger contributed. 
 
Updated at 9:24 p.m.