Sen. Marco Rubio attacked Hillary Clinton's relative silence on the dispute over President Obama's proposed Asian trade deal, while offering robust support for the deal and expanded executive authority on trade negotiations in a speech Wednesday.
"Those such as Secretary Clinton, who preach a message of international engagement and 'smart power' yet are not willing to stand up to special interests and support free trade," Rubio said in a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, "are either hypocritical or fail to grasp trade's role as a tool of statecraft that can bolster our relationships with partners and create millions of American jobs."
Rubio went on, in the speech on American strength abroad titled the "Rubio Doctrine," to emphasize the importance of free trade and the deal currently being negotiated.
"It is more important than ever that Congress give the President Trade Promotion Authority so we can finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership," he said. "These agreements will create millions of jobs and cement U.S. strategic partnerships in Asia, South America, and Europe."
The long-brewing, intra-Democratic dispute over the president's trade agenda exploded this week, as a number of high-profile Democrats backed off their support for the "fast track" authority he seeks. That authority, if ultimately approved, would give Congress an up-or-down vote on trade. Progressives, labor, and environmentalists — led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren — have sharply opposed the deal, provoking intense criticism in turn by President Obama.
Clinton, for her part, has offered little since she announced her presidential bid in way of comment on the deal — a source of consternation for both sides. Last month, she noted that "Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security." But she has not made whether she supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama's proposed deal, clear.
Last month, Jeb Bush sharply criticized Clinton on the issue, as well, raising her earlier public support for TPP.
There are, however, some Republicans who disagree with Rubio and Bush: Some more Tea Party-oriented lawmakers do not support it, and Rubio's rival for the Republican nomination, Rand Paul, opposes the deal, as well, citing the lack of transparency in negotiations.