In a bid to gain advantage in the Democratic presidential primary, Bernie Sanders’s campaign has distributed a video last week showing Hillary Clinton on television in India in 2012 saying there are “pluses and minuses” to outsourcing U.S. jobs. Appearing on Indian station NDTV during her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton was asked during a town hall-style public affairs program for her thoughts on outsourcing from the United States to India.
“Well, you know, it’s been going on for many years now,” Clinton said on the program, “and it’s part of our economic relationship with India, and I think there are advantages with it that have certainly benefited many parts of our country, and there are disadvantages that go to the need to, you know, improve the job skills of our own people and create a better economic environment, so it’s, like anything, it’s, you know, got pluses and minuses.”
The two Democratic campaigns offer very different interpretations of her comments and their broader significance. Sanders’s camp is prepared to argue that Clinton’s words, spoken abroad, show an insensitivity to the plight of U.S. workers, including those in trade-battered Michigan, which has shed far more than its share of manufacturing jobs.
Clinton’s team, meanwhile, says that there’s really nothing to see here: that what Clinton said is consistent with her view that trade can be a mixed bag and the president needs to work to maximize its advantages for the United States.
Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said he’s convinced Clinton’s comments will not play well in Michigan “when so many communities like Detroit and Flint have been hurt so badly by outsourcing. Secretary Clinton should explain to the people of Michigan how they have benefited from outsourcing of their manufacturing jobs,” Weaver said.
Clinton’s aides argue that during the campaign she has demonstrated a much deeper commitment than Sanders to rebuilding the U.S. manufacturing sector. “Hillary Clinton is the only candidate in this race with a comprehensive agenda to create jobs, revitalize manufacturing communities and break down barriers for small businesses to start and grow,” said Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson. “Rather than attacks on the past, Senator Sanders should tell Michigan voters how he will create manufacturing jobs and grow our economy.”
Sanders said, he has consistently opposed “disastrous” trade deals, starting with the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s, that Clinton supported during her tenures as first lady, a senator from New York and secretary of state. Sanders has also been critical of the length of time it took for Clinton to reach her current opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, a pending pact championed by President Obama that Sanders opposed from the outset.