THE NEW YORK TIMES: Momentum for Pacific Trade Deal Sapped in Election Year




April 5 | 

For the most part, the 2016 campaign spectacle has benefited President Obama.

The Democratic incumbent, no longer the center of conflict, has seen his approval ratings edge up toward 50 percent and beyond. The unruly Republican brawl flatters Mr. Obama’s temperate demeanor by comparison, while increasing the odds that his party can hold on to the White House in November and safeguard his legacy.

Yet there’s an important exception. The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, a linchpin of Mr. Obama’s “pivot” toward Asia for American economic and foreign policy, represents his top remaining priority before Congress. And the accord has taken a serious political beating.

One by one, mainstream Republican candidates reflecting the party establishment’s modern pro-trade consensus have fallen. Donald J. Trump, who calls the accord a “terrible deal,” vanquished them in part by rallying blue-collar Republicans behind his message that international trade was to blame for economic problems.

Mr. Trump’s top challenger, Ted Cruz, reversed course to oppose the “trade promotion authority” that let the Obama administration complete negotiations.

The only remaining Republican who backs the deal, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, has been mathematically eliminated from a first-ballot nomination at the Republican convention.

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