- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2016

As they make their cases to Midwest voters, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernard Sanders traded shots Thursday on trade and manufacturing, with the Vermont senator casting Mrs. Clinton as the “outsourcer-in-chief” because of her support for agreements such as NAFTA.

In a press release, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said Mrs. Clinton has been misleading voters about her position on trade and has actively supported policies that have devastated the American middle class.

“At a rally on Wednesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told those gathered, ‘Don’t let anybody tell you we can’t make anything in America anymore,’” Mr. Weaver said in the statement, referring to comments Mrs. Clinton made at a New York event Wednesday. “What she failed to tell the audience is that she has been a consistent advocate of the job-killing trade deals that have contributed to the loss of nearly 60,000 factories in the United States and almost 5 million manufacturing jobs over the last 15 years.”

The Sanders campaign specifically cited NAFTA, permanent normalized trade relations with China, a free-trade agreement with Panama and other deals.

The debate comes as key Midwestern states such as Ohio, Illinois and Michigan head to the polls over the next two weeks. Those states have been hit especially hard by NAFTA and other agreements, the Sanders camp argues.

Hillary Clinton supported NAFTA. NAFTA cost 850,000 U.S. jobs, 43,000 jobs alone in Michigan, 35,000 jobs in Ohio, 35,000 in Illinois,” Mr. Weaver said.

The offensive on manufacturing comes as the Sanders campaign makes a last-ditch effort to capture the Democratic nomination. Far behind in the delegate count, Mr. Sanders need to defeat Mrs. Clinton in states such as Michigan and Ohio if he is to have any chance of overcoming the former secretary of state.

But the Clinton campaign quickly fired back and blasted Mr. Sanders for failing to put forward a real policy proposal on how to boost American manufacturing and create more middle-class jobs.

Mrs. Clinton will continue making her case with a speech Friday in Detroit.

Mr. Sanders “still hasn’t put forward a manufacturing plan in this campaign, and in his years in Congress he has been AWOL” on manufacturing issues, Clinton campaign adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on a conference call Thursday afternoon.

“When it comes to supporting American jobs,” he continued, “Secretary Clinton sees the whole picture and has a comprehensive answer that addresses the needs and aspirations of the American people and she would put that up against what Sen. Sanders has offered.”

Mr. Sanders also took aim at Mrs. Clinton’s previous support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major U.S. trade deal with a dozen Pacific nations. The deal is now in limbo in Congress.

While secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton spoke out in favor of the agreement, but last year came out in opposition to the deal and said it failed to meet her high standards.

“Election year conversions won’t bring back American jobs,” Mr. Weaver said, mocking Mrs. Clinton’s changing position on TPP.

The Clinton campaign dismisses that criticism and says Mrs. Clinton simply kept an open mind until the details of the deal were released.

“I would just say that she has this kind of old-fashioned notion that you should actually take a look at what’s been negotiated before you reach a conclusion on it,” Mr. Sullivan said.

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