With a victory in Tuesday’s Michigan presidential primary critical to his campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has seized on an issue on which he and Hillary Clinton have sharp disagreements — trade, which he blames for ravaging the state’s once-bountiful manufacturing jobs.
There’s one big complication: Sanders’ trade position not only differs from Clinton’s but from the two most recent Democratic presidents, who remain hugely popular among the party’s voters. That has forced Sanders into a narrow path of lauding Bill Clinton and President Obama while at the same time picking at the trade deals both consider central to their legacies.
Persistent loyalty to the two former Democratic presidents represents a continued dilemma for Sanders and an advantage for Hillary Clinton. Her husband pushed the North American Free Trade Agreement, against which Sanders campaigned on Thursday. President Obama, in whose administration she served, has pushed the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which Sanders vehemently opposes and to which Clinton has offered more mild opposition.