“Yesterday for the first time she said she wants to renegotiate trade agreements. First time, yesterday. Well, because of me.”
— Donald Trump, news conference, July 27, 2016
Donald Trump likes to congratulate himself for spurring action. In recent weeks, in numerous settings, he has asserted that Hillary Clinton only now began to say she wanted to renegotiate trade deals, such as the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, because he had pushed her to do.
On Fox News on July 26, Trump said: “Today for the first time out of all these years that she worked on this and her husband signed it — it’s one of the worst things ever signed from an economic development standpoint — she came out today and said, ‘Well, we are going to have to start renegotiating our deals.’ I have been saying this for a long time. She just came out. Because you know why? What I have been saying makes sense to a lot of people.”
Or at a rally in Denver on July 29, Trump said, “Just like now she wants to try and renegotiate trade deals after she heard I want to renegotiate our trade deals. Now all of a sudden after 30 years, she wants to renegotiate trade deals.”
So, the obvious question is: Is this true?
The simple answer is no.
In the ongoing campaign, for instance, Clinton was interviewed by Rachel Maddow about NAFTA on March 10 and said, “I have said repeatedly that I would like to renegotiate it. I think there were parts of it that did not work as hoped for.”
Her website also includes this section on trade proposals:
Review the trade agreements we already have on the books. Hillary has said for almost a decade that we need to renegotiate NAFTA, and she still believes that today. And she would review all of our trade agreements with the same scrutiny.
Almost a decade? Some might have believed that her desire to renegotiate NAFTA was the result of being pushed against free-trade deals by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Trump. Well, we checked, and Clinton also called in the 2008 campaign for renegotiating NAFTA.
In one of the primary debates, on Feb. 26, 2008, she said: “It is not enough just to criticize NAFTA, which I have, and for some years now. I have put forward a very specific plan about what I would do, and it does include telling Canada and Mexico that we will opt out unless we renegotiate the core labor and environmental standards — not side agreements, but core agreements; that we will enhance the enforcement mechanism; and that we will have a very clear view of how we’re going to review NAFTA going forward to make sure it works, and we’re going to take out the ability of foreign companies to sue us because of what we do to protect our workers.”
Moreover, the pledge to renegotiate was also part of her 2008 campaign website, found through the Internet Wayback machine. This was the first item listed as part of her trade agenda:
NAFTA was negotiated more than 14 years ago, and Hillary believes it has not lived up to its promises. Hillary is the only candidate with a detailed plan to fix NAFTA — one that addresses its shortcomings and brings the agreement up to date.
In response, a Trump campaign official noted that Trump has opposed NAFTA from the beginning and that his emphasis on the issue has put free-trade deals on the 2016 campaign agenda.
The Pinocchio Test
Contrary to what Trump claims, Clinton’s interest in renegotiating NAFTA is not a recent change of heart. She has been advocating it for nearly a decade.
Trump, of course, earns Four Pinocchios. We suggest that he take a look at Clinton’s campaign proposals before he automatically assumes that any of her statements represent a change in position.
Send us facts to check by filling out this form
Sign up for The Fact Checker weekly newsletter