Liberal Democrats are intensifying their pressure on Hillary Rodham Clinton to oppose President Barack Obama’s Pacific trade deal as detrimental to American jobs. But Obama’s allies want her to endorse the accord, which the president has called a boon to the U.S. economy.
And Clinton, stuck between the progressives she must woo in a Democratic nomination fight and the president under whom she served, has remained, for the most part, mum.
The issue has become the first major policy test in her fledgling campaign, with Clinton under mounting pressure to pick a side in the delicate and heated debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, a 12-nation trade agreement that Obama has aggressively pursued.
Just 48 hours after Clinton delighted liberal Democrats with a proposal to expand citizenship eligibility to immigrants who are in the country illegally, protesters on Thursday urged her to speak out against the trade deal.
"Stop the TPP!" read one of the signs held by demonstrators who circled the mansion in Beverly Hills, California, where Clinton attended a high-dollar fundraiser.
The left wing has not been this agitated over a trade deal since the last time Clinton ran for president, when her squishy position on the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by her husband in 1993, ignited debate during the Democratic primary.
"The fact is, she was saying great things about NAFTA until she started running for president," Obama said of Clinton during their 2008 fight for the nomination.
This time, in an odd twist, it is Obama’s trade deal that haunts Clinton’s early candidacy. If her stance on immigration, which would go further than Obama’s executive actions, offended the White House last week, any remarks she might make against the administration’s trade accord could fracture her already delicate relationship with the president.