The first speaker of the Democratic Convention on Tuesday night was Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who was once described by the Washington Post as “close as family” to the Clintons. His buddies did him a nice favor getting him a slot on the main stage tonight, though I can’t imagine this is how they imagine being thanked.
In an interview with Politico after he got off stage, McAuliffe insinuated that Hillary Clinton would reverse her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the international trade deal that was a major policy point in both the Democratic and Republican primary processes. Said McAuliffe to Politico:
“I worry that if we don’t do TPP, at some point China’s going to break the rules — but Hillary understands this,” he said in an interview after his speech on the main stage at the Democratic National Convention. “Once the election’s over, and we sit down on trade, people understand a couple things we want to fix on it but going forward we got to build a global economy.”
Pressed on whether Clinton would turn around and support the trade deal she opposed during the heat of the primary fight against Bernie Sanders, McAuliffe said: “Yes. Listen, she was in support of it. There were specific things in it she wants fixed.”
That Clinton would support a controversial policy during an election season only to blithely reverse herself after winning is a scandalous assertion, and it’s the great fear of hardcore Bernie Sanders supporters who see Clinton as an untrustworthy stooge, made real. McAuliffe’s characterization of Clinton—that she is, at the end of the day, a politician—is the engine driving the pushback against her, both on the left and among Donald Trump voters. Trump has been mischievously courting Bernie folks on this very subject via his Twitter feed.
After catching wind of the quotes, McAuliffe’s spokesperson tried to spin his bosses’ comments with... little success:
Later, McAuliffe’s spokesman sought to clarify the governor’s remarks after this story published, saying he was simply expressing what he wants Clinton to do if she is elected president. “While Governor McAuliffe is a supporter of the TPP, he has no expectation Secretary Clinton would change her position on the legislation and she has never told him anything to that effect,” spokesman Brian Coy said.
Brian Coy had a really bad night.