TED CRUZ, PAUL RYAN’S SUPPORT FOR “OBAMATRADE” OPENED A DOOR FOR “THE DONALD”
|| By RICK MANNING || One year ago, Americans for Limited Government launched a $100,000 radio campaign – featuring Donald Trump – opposing giving President Barack Obama fast-track trade authority to negotiate the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The radio campaign was primarily focused on early GOP primary states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to counter-pressure Republican candidates on the issue.
But the real story is that the ad idea was hatched in the wake of a joint Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas)-Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal written in favor of providing Obama what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) called “an enormous grant of power.”
The Cruz-Ryan opinion piece, “Putting Congress in Charge on Trade,” provided political cover for conservative members of Congress, and the seeming legions of big business lobbyists used it to great effect as they swarmed Capitol Hill trying to secure votes for fast-track.
While my penning a blistering response in The Hill, “Ted Cruz joins the establishment,” had some value as a counterpoint, Cruz’s spotless reputation as a fearless leader of conservative issues was being used by Ryan and others.
It was in this frame of mind that I was sitting at a McDonald’s across the street from Fox News headquarters in New York City, waiting for a meeting, when the obvious struck me: We needed someone with a bigger name and footprint to counterbalance the Ryan-Cruz momentum. And from that McDonald’s, I called two major Republicans to ask them to cut a radio ad; Trump immediately responded “yes.” Within days, the ads were on the air, only to be pulled down when Trump declared his candidacy for the presidency.
In fast succession, Republican presidential candidates, starting with then-Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, announced their opposition to fast-track; they were followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, and the bleeding was stopped. Eventually, even Cruz decided that TPP was such a bad deal that he couldn’t vote to fast-track it, demonstrating the admirable trait of keeping an open mind on issues of importance.
Somewhat ironically, because Congress listened to Ryan and passed trade promotion authority for Obama, it fast-tracked Trump to the GOP nomination. Now the presidential campaign is consumed by a discussion of Obama’s Pacific trade deal and whether Congress should reject it in the lame-duck session after the election, with voters uneasy about outsourcing jobs and the lack of currency provisions …
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Rick Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government. Follow him on Twitter @RManning957. This excerpt (reprinted with permission) originally appeared in The Hill.