Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent statements on trade policy have apparently ruffled feathers in the administration she used to serve.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Clinton, a leading candidate for president in 2016, upset senior White House aides by not backing the Pacific trade deal she used to champion as secretary of state.
The Times’ Michael Shear and Amy Chozick wrote that some of President Barack Obama’s staffers were “irked,” “frustrated,” and not always found in their “calmer moments” after Clinton offered vague criticism of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. Obama has made the 12-nation deal a signature issue for his presidency, but congressional Democrats and unions have stalled the president’s legislation so far.
“The fact is, she was there when this thing was launched and she was extolling it when she left,” David Axelrod, one of Obama’s closest former advisers, told The Times. “She’s in an obvious vise, between the work that she endorsed and was part of and the exigencies of a campaign. Obviously, her comments plainly weren’t helpful to moving this forward.”
Axelrod was referring to Clinton’s comments on the trade deal last weekend. According to The Washington Post, Clinton urged Obama to listen to trade critics’ “legitimate concerns” about the free trade bill.
“I will judge what’s in the final agreement, but I hope that it can be made better,” she said while campaigning in New Hampshire on Sunday.
The Times story described her comments as particularly unhelpful to the president.
“If there was one moment recently in which President Obama could have used Hillary Rodham Clinton’s help, it was on Sunday, as the president scrambled to salvage his trade deal,” Shear and Chozick wrote. “Instead, Mrs. Clinton, now running to replace Mr. Obama, all but wagged a finger at her former boss.”
This did not go over well with the White House.
“The aides knew the day would come when Mrs. Clinton would have to irritate Mr. Obama in order to appease Democratic voters,” the reporters wrote. “They just did not think it would come quite so soon.”
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