Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

This shareable image compares positions between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential candidates. This shareable image compares positions between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential candidates.

This shareable image compares positions between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential candidates.

By Will Cabaniss September 2, 2015

How Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton differ on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

A widespread Internet post claims Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have opposing views on a number of issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade deal involving the United States and 11 other nations.

The image says Sanders opposes the deal, but Clinton supports it.

As part of a couple of fact-checks on the post, we looked into whether the two candidates differ on support for the deal, which has divided Democratic leaders on the Hill.

President Barack Obama, the deal’s primary advocate, has sparred with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., a longtime ally, and received praise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a frequent opponent, over the deal.

So where do the leading Democratic presidential candidates stand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Sanders sides with other members of the Senate’s progressive caucus in vehemently opposing the deal. In January 2014, he said he’s against it primarily because it will allow corporations to move jobs overseas.

Clinton’s position on the proposal is complicated by her time as secretary of state, and she’s been careful as a presidential candidate not to express a firm position.

There’s evidence to suggest Clinton was deeply involved in the deal’s formation and promotion as the country’s lead diplomat. In 2011, she told a congressional committee that even though the State Department was not in charge of the negotiations, "we work closely with the U.S. (Trade Representative)." Leaked diplomatic cables show Clinton’s deputies specifically discussed the TPP with foreign heads of state.

Clinton openly pushed for the deal at least 45 times during her tenure as secretary of state, according to CNN’s tally.

In 2012, she touted the trade deal, also called TPP, to a group of American and Australian officials as a way to "lower trade barriers, raise labor and environmental standards, and drive growth across the region."

Featured Fact-check

But since entering the race for president, Clinton has distanced herself from those remarks.

"I did not work on TPP," she told reporters in July, saying the deal was "the responsibility of the United States Trade Representative."

At times, Clinton has echoed Sanders’ concerns about outsourcing.

"Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security," she told a reporter from MSNBC in April. "We have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive. It's got to be really a partnership between our business, our government, our workforce, the intellectual property that comes out of our universities, and we have to get back to a much more focused effort in my opinion to try to produce those capacities here at home so that we can be competitive in a global economy."

Hopeful comments about job creation and increased wages do not signal a clear position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Clinton’s campaign website lists no official position on the deal.

Our ruling

The graphic claims Bernie Sanders opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Hillary Clinton supports it.

Sanders has said on multiple occasions that he would oppose the trade deal. Clinton supported it as secretary of state, and there’s even evidence to suggest she was an advocate for the deal within the Obama administration. But she has taken a neutral stance on the deal during her campaign for the presidency, voicing some of Sanders’ same concerns yet refusing to explicitly criticize the proposal.

Clinton spoke often in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — until that backing irritated parts of her Democratic base.

We rate the post’s claim Mostly True.

Our Sources

Huffington Post, "Harry Reid Calls Trade Push By Obama And GOP 'Insanity'," May 20, 2015

Huffington Post, "Mitch McConnell Says Obama 'Has Done An Excellent Job' Pushing Trade Deal," May 17, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders, "The Trans-Pacific Trade Trade (TPP) Agreement Must Be Defeated," 2014

The Atlantic, "Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choice on Free Trade," Apr. 23, 2015

Bloomberg Politics, "Courting Unions, Hillary Clinton Says She Didn't Work on Trans-Pacific Partnership," Jul. 30, 2015

CNN Politics, "45 times Hillary Clinton pushed the trade bill she now opposes," Jun. 15, 2015, "Deputy Secretary Steinberg's September 27, 2009 Meeting With Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh," Sep. 27, 2009

International Business Times, "Cables Show Hillary Clinton's State Department Deeply Involved in Trans-Pacific Partnership," Jul. 31, 2015

Email interview with Warren Gunnels, Bernie 2016, Aug. 27, 2015

Email interview with Josh Schwerin, Hillary for America, Aug. 27, 2015

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Will Cabaniss

How Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton differ on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up