Trump gives TPP another bash in acceptance speech
Donald Trump used his presidential nomination acceptance speech to once again criticise the Trans-Pacific Partnership — and to raise suspicions Hillary Clinton supports the free market.
"My opponent has supported virtually every trade agreement that has been destroying our middle class," he told the Republican Convention.
"She supported NAFTA, and she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organisation – another one of her husband’s colossal mistakes. She supported the job- killing trade deal with South Kourea. She has supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP will not only destroy our manufacturing, but it will make America subject to the rulings of foreign governments."
To Kiwis of all political stripes, Mr Trump channeling Jane Kelsey seems surreal.
And it still does to some Republicans.
Wednesday night (Thursday NZT), Senator Ted Cruz was booed and jeered toward the end of his 21-minute speech as it became apparent he would not endorse Mr Trump. Instead, the Texan told people to vote with their conscience and support candidates they thought would uphold conservative values and the constitution. His wife had a security escort as she left the arena. One delegate yelled "Goldman Sachs!" at her; the very name of an investment bank (and Heidi Cruz' employer) serving as an insult under Trump's version of the Republican Party.
At an event for Texan delegates earlier today, Mr Cruz again stole some of the limelight, saying he would not endorse a man who had insulted his father and his wife (Mr Trump earlier insinuated Mr Cruz's father had something to do with the Kennedy assassination; at another point he re-tweeted an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz). Pundits suspect the Senator is lining up a 2020 presidential bid. It seems Mr Trump can rely on him causing trouble through the current campaign.
Later in the day, Peter Thiel — Facebook director, PayPal founder, Xero investor and one of the few Silicon Valley figures to support Mr Trump — took the stage to tell delegates, he was "proud to be gay, proud to be a Republican, but most of all, proud to be an American."
The billionaire's statement was met with an an enthusiastic "USA! USA!" chant by delegates, but you do have to wonder how it will go down with Mr Trump's red meat supporters as a whole, and whether he'll get a hug from running mate and arch social conservative Mike Pence (if you're wondering how the self-styled libertarian came to support the populist, Mr Thiel — who was born in Germany — has distinctly illiberal views on immigration).
Overall, the consensus is that Mr Trump gave an effective acceptance speech (if a lot darker than custom), avoiding his usual off-the-cuff riffing. Some of the latest polls have him edging ahead (though it is usual for each candidate to enjoy a brief "convention bounce"). However, Ms Clinton is clinging to a lead in every single one of the so-called "battleground" states, which will play a similar role in November as marginal seats did here back in the days of first-past-the-post.
If nothing else, the convention's Vaudeville and non-stop mini-scandals shut Mrs Clinton out of the news cycle for four days.
That will change as Ms Clinton announces her choice of running mate (possibly as soon as tomorrow; with Bernie Sanders' endorsement already in the bag, the strongly pro-free trade Tim Kaine is tipped) and the Democrats stage their own convention next week.
The TPP requires ratification by countries representing 80% of the GDP of the original signatories. In practical terms, that means the trade deal cannot come into force unless ratified by the US. The House of Representatives and the Senate need to both ratify the TPP, and the president has to sign the ratification legislation into law (or veto it). President Obama supports the TPP but faces a Congress that has turned against it as Trump's protectionist mania has taken hold. TPP proponents still hope the trade deal can be ratified before Obama leaves office, or that Hillary Clinton regains her initial enthusiasm for the trade pact once the theatre of the campaign is behind her.
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