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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Obama Bungles on Trade

On Friday, the president lost a big trade vote in the House, mainly because Democrats broke with him. Eric Bradner and Deirdre Walsh report at CNN:
The President attended a 9:30 a.m. gathering of House Democrats, making his case after several high-level officials -- including Labor Secretary Tom Perez and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough -- made their cases in the days leading up to the vote.
As he left the meeting, Obama said, "I don't think you ever nail anything down around here. It's always moving."
Democrats who attended said they weren't swayed and that the President's outreach came too late.
"The President tried to both guilt people and impugn their integrity. I was insulted," Rep. Peter Defazio, D-Oregon, told reporters after the meeting.
One House Democrat told CNN on the condition of anonymity that in Friday's meeting, Obama "was fine until he turned it at the end and became indignant and alienated some folks. Bottom line, he may have swayed some Ds to vote yes, but Pelosi sealed the deal to vote no."
Another House Democrat said Obama's last-minute lobbying effort "absolutely" hurt the bill's chances.
"Democrats believe they often are taken granted and not appreciated," this House Democrat said. "There was a very strong concern about the lost jobs and growing income inequality. Unions are the last line of defense. A number of reporters have asked whether Democrats felt threatened by the unions. Most told me that they wanted to do nothing to further weaken unions."
Added this member of Congress, pointedly: "Ms. Clinton should take notice."
Politico offers some further details:
It was a dramatic gesture, the kind that Obama has avoided for years. He’s had little success in wooing members of Congress from either party over the years, and his allies dismissed such efforts as made-for-TV drama.
But by Friday morning, there was the president, walking into a closed-door meeting in the Capitol Visitors Center to try to rally House Democrats. Pelosi was by his side. Inside, he implored lawmakers to “play it straight” on the vote.
“We’re not the other party, we’re not the tea party,” Obama said, according to sources in the room. He took no questions, Pelosi said nothing and the pair left the room together.
Once Obama left, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told fellow Democrats that he “was offended by what the president said” in suggesting TAA opponents weren’t playing it straight. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and others echoed Ellison.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a top trade supporter, said his sister and other relatives were union members, yet he would still support the package.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) broke into tears. She told Democrats how close she was to Obama.
Then she went to the House floor and voted “no.”