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Fri Aug 19, 2016, 12:54 PM Aug 2016

Toomey, in Fight for Political Life, Abandons TPP Trade Deal

In a fight for his political life, Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is abandoning a major international trade deal that has emerged as a divisive campaign issue.

Announcing his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement puts the Pennsylvania senator more in line with labor unions and Democrats, including his challenger, Katie McGinty, who say the deal will drain jobs from the U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival, Donald Trump, have opposed it, too.

However, it puts Toomey out of step with Republican Senate leaders and a major Toomey backer, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, on the deal involving the U.S. and 11 other Pacific rim countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Polls show a neck-and-neck race between the first-term Toomey and McGinty, who has held various high-ranking posts in state and federal government. Millions of dollars in TV ads by outside groups are pouring into the contest, which could tip control of the chamber in the Nov. 8 election.

McGinty's campaign quickly called Toomey's opposition to the TPP a "flip flop" on a career spent supporting free-market principles and international trade deals.

In a sign of the unpopularity of trade deals in this election season, Clinton — who promoted the deal as the "gold standard" of trade agreements when she was secretary of state — also turned against it as a candidate.

McGinty, as a member of President Bill Clinton's administration in 1994, defended the then-newly signed North American Free Trade Agreement, but in this campaign, she has hammered trade deals as bad for domestic manufacturing jobs and the middle class.



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