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Jeb Bush knocks Hillary Clinton’s wavering on trade deal

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a "Politics and Eggs" breakfast at The New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, N.H. last Friday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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Presumed Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is sharply criticizing former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton for wavering in her support of President Obama's major trade deal that is gaining bipartisan support in Congress.

Bush has repeatedly expressed support for the trade pact with Asian-Pacific countries that the Obama administration is negotiating and supports a bipartisan plan to give the president special "fast track" authority to complete the deal.

Clinton, however, hedged when asked this week whether she supports the deal, telling reporters in New Hampshire that “any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security."

Her comments sought to place her between the pro-business and pro-labor wings of the Democratic Party, which have been feuding for months over whether Obama should be granted special authorities to finish the deal -- or whether any such deal could be detrimental to American job growth.

In a sharply-worded essay on the commentary Web site Medium, Bush argues that Clinton's "reservations are conveniently timed. Sec. Clinton wavered on support for trade the last time she ran for President as well. It seems Secretary Clinton thinks we have a short memory."

"I have no problem supporting TPP," Bush writes, using the acronym for the Trans Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade and regulatory pact in the Asia-Pacific region.

"I haven’t changed in my view even though Hillary Clinton has," he added. "It is time to move forward as even recent Democratic presidents have recognized — and Sec. Clinton shouldn’t stand in the way for political gain."

In essence, Bush is criticizing Clinton for not being supportive enough of Obama -- an odd attack for the presumed GOP presidential candidate to make given the president's unpopularity with Republicans. His attack on Clinton comes a day after Bush reiterated in a radio interview that he credits Obama with continuing the National Security Agency's collection of "metadata."

While Democrats are openly sparring with each other over the trade deal, most Republican presidential candidates generally favor such agreements. But there do appear to be some fissures.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Tuesday that the United States needs “to take another look at NAFTA” — the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1993. On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) suggested that legal immigration, which could grow under the trade pacts, might need to be reduced with the aim of “protecting American workers and American ­wages.”