Former Vice President Joe Biden was a prime player in the effort to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Obama administration’s failed controversial trade agreement, but during the second Democratic debate on Wednesday night, he said he wouldn’t rejoin the deal.
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“I would not rejoin the TPP as it was initially put forward,” he said.
Instead, Biden, while on stage in Detroit, said he would renegotiate a better deal to ensure that environment and labor standards were included, despite running an explicit campaign to restore the Obama presidency.
“I would insist that we renegotiate piece of that with the pacific nations we had in South American and North America so that we could bring them together to hold China accountable for rules of us setting the rules as to how trade should be conducted. Otherwise, they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing, fill the vacuum and run the table.”
In the midst of President Trump’s yearlong tariff war with China -- which affects some of the biggest battleground states, including MIchigan and Ohio -- trade has become a focal point in the presidential primary.
But in the Senate, Biden, who’s painted himself as a pro-union, pro-worker Democrat, voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement, and under Obama, he supported the TPP -- to the ire of other Democratic candidates.
In May, Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., went after Biden for his record: “When people take a look at my record versus Vice President Biden's record, I helped lead the fight against NAFTA; he voted for NAFTA,” he said, according to Politico.
“I helped lead the fight against [permanent normal trade relations] with China; he voted for it. I strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership; he supported it.”