Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon has done his level best this week to explain away his candidate claiming to have not called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the "gold standard" of trade agreements.
Donald Trump noted at Monday’s debate that Clinton once used the phrase to praise the TPP as secretary of state, but Clinton said that was "not accurate." However, Clinton did indeed praise the TPP as setting the "gold standard" for trade agreements in 2012. She also called it a "cutting-edge, next generation trade deal" and claimed it would "help create new jobs and opportunities here at home" at other times during her State Department tenure.
Her Democratic primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), was strongly against the deal, though, appealing to the left-wing flank of the party. When Clinton eventually announced she opposed the TPP in 2015, PolitiFact rated it a "Full Flop."
In interviews on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC after the debate, Fallon was challenged about her comments. His spin: She had "hope" it would turn out to be the gold standard but it failed to meet her standards.
"At one point, when she was secretary of state, she was hoping that the deal, when it was finally negotiated in its full detail, would be something that she could support," he told Megyn Kelly after the debate.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer flatly pointed out Tuesday that Clinton flipped, but Fallon demurred.
"No, I think what happened, Wolf, was at the time that she made those comments that you just played, that deal was still being worked on, and she was expressing her hope that the deal would live up to being the gold standard," he said.
"She didn’t say ‘hope’ in that statement," Blitzer said.
On left-leaning MSNBC, Kristen Welker tried to offer Fallon an assist, acknowledging Clinton called it the "gold standard" before adding, "It wasn’t a fully formed deal at the time, and that’s the crux of her counter-argument."
"Do you think she was clear enough with voters on this issue that resonates with voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania and throughout the Rust Belt?" she asked.
"I think so," Fallon said. "This is not a new issue to the voters. In the primary, we had a lot of conversations about what should be the proper role of trade deals, and I think she has expanded on her answer in many of the appearances that she does on the trail."