The words "rural," "farmer," and "agriculture" did not come up at all last night during the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The debate may have been "sheer reality TV hugeness" as the New York Times dubbed it, but as someone watching the debate looking for exchanges to feed to an agricultural audience, there was little to document.
In a debate that was supposed to focus on the economy, it was telling that neither candidate was able to at least touch on rural America or agriculture in any way.
"Trade," though, came up frequently, especially early in the debate. A bit of fact checking: Trump said to Clinton, "Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry."
NAFTA in 1992-93 was a lot like the state of the Trans-Pacific Partnership now. President George HW Bush signed NAFTA at the end of his term, December 1992. The legislation finally went before Congress in November 1993 and was approved by the House in a 234-200 vote and a 61-38 vote in the Senate. President Bill Clinton signed it into law in December 1993.
The debate did not bode well for trade deals. Trump declared NAFTA "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country."
Trump reiterated multiple times, "We have to renegotiate our trade deals and we have to stop these country from stealing our companies and our jobs."
Clinton, in one response said, "Well, I think that trade is an important issue. Of course, we are 5 percent of the world’s population; we have to trade with the other 95 percent. And we need to have smart, fair trade deals."
Shortly later, however, Clinton boasted of her acumen on trade deals, stating shed had voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.
Clinton, however, also took credit for increased exports to China. "When I was secretary of state, we actually increased American exports globally 30 percent. We increased them to China 50 percent. So I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that helped to create more new jobs."
From 2009 to 2015, total U.S. exports to China grew from $68.4 billion to a peak of $120.7 billion in 2014 before falling to $113.4 billion in 2015. https://www.uschina.org/…
Agricultural exports to China in 2015 were $15 billion. Ag exports to China are coming down in value largely because commodity prices are low. U.S. soybean exports to China, for instance, topped $15 billion alone in 2012.
Clinton didn't want to discuss TPP and used the old analogy that she was for it before she was against it, in so many words. Trump attacked that point. "You called in the gold standard of trade deals. You said it's the finest deal you have ever seen."
None of that helps TPP and neither candidate said they would help improve the trade deal rather than scrap it.
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