Everybody hates the TPP: What do US presidential hopefuls think of the world’s most unpopular trade agreement?

The TPP is not a popular agreement. And when it comes to the many arguments against it, there’s one pretty common thread: The TPP is an example of New Zealand ‘selling out’ to the US.

But while the government of this country continues its hopelessly inept attempt to win the hearts and minds of the masses on the issue, you’ll find a very different attitude in the bluster and fury of the US’s presidential primary race candidates.

Case in point: Last night, coiffured rabble rouser and winking racist Donald Trump weighed in on the TPP debate, saying that he finds the agreement, as a whole, “horrible” and hinting that such an agreement might see the US playing into the hands of shadowy Chinese interests:

“You have 12 countries,” says the Don, “all of whom want to rip our heart out”.

“You have China, which is not a part of [the agreement] but wants to be a part of it at a later date. They're watching every move.”

The document is both “too big”, and “too complicated” says Trump, justifying popular ignorance of the document and excusing the fact that he and his people have "never even looked at it or read it".

"We don't know what the hell it says. We should not do it.”

For a country notorious for its deep partisan divisions — and seething mistrust between those divisions — the homogeneity of criticism for the proposed agreement is, to Kiwi ears at least, downright unsettling.

Bernie Sanders for example, long-time activist, dyed-in-the-wool socialist, and bête noire of the right, has similarly dismissed the free trade agreement as a “disastrous” mistake.

“I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs,” wrote Sanders in a statement from last October.

“Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”

“This agreement follows failed trade deals with Mexico, China and other low-wage countries that have cost millions of jobs and shuttered tens of thousands of factories across the United States,” he continues. “We need trade policies that benefit American workers and consumers, not just the CEOs of large multi-national corporations.”

Sanders has now vowed to kill the deal if elected.

As with everything that has the Clinton name attached, things become a little more tangled when dissecting Hillary Clinton’s position on the trade deal.

Three years ago, Clinton offered her support to the document, saying that, at the time, that she “hoped it would be the gold standard”.

When called to account for that support during last week’s Democratic candidate debate however, Clinton says she no longer approves of the agreement.

“It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn’t meet my standards,” she says. “My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans. And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, ‘this will help raise your wages.’ And I concluded I could not.”

If Clinton’s statement seems to carry the implication that she was at one time undecided about the deal, and has rejected the agreement having had those suspicions confirmed, you can be sure that that is not, in fact, the case.  

While visiting Australia in 2012, the former US secretary of the state endorsed the TPP agreement without apparent reservation:  

“It’s fair to say that our economies are entwined, and we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP....This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.”

Finally, what about former Republican front runner and would-be theocrat Ted Cruz?

To the surprise of many, Cruz has been (almost) consistent in his resistance to the trade agreement. While Cruz claims he has “always opposed TPP”, Cruz did, in fact, tentatively support legislation leading up to the creation of the document. Once the actual text of said document was made public however, Cruz withdrew that support and has consistently opposed the agreement ever since.