Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who announced this week that he would seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016, is bucking most of his party by opposing a looming trade deal sought by the Obama administration.
Huckabee put that opposition in, well, colorful terms during an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday. He said the deal would lead workers to “take it in the backside” because of lower wages and by companies shipping more jobs overseas.
“When there’s cronies involved and getting a special deal and when other countries are cheating and Americans lose jobs,” Huckabee said, “I’d like to think the U.S. government would stand up for the U.S. workers rather than let them take it in the backside and somehow just have to tough it out.”
However ineloquently, Huckabee is noting the concerns of a handful of conservative Republicans — and many Democrats — who either oppose or are skeptical of the trade deal, which President Barack Obama has painted as essential for American globalization.
Huckabee’s position puts him more in line with liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) or Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders than many of his Republican counterparts on the trail.
Huckabee is more opposed to the concept of “Trade Promotion Authority,” legislation that is working its way through Congress right now. That legislation would provide Obama the ability to “fast track” the agreement and bring it to Congress for an up-or-down vote, rather than subjecting it to potential tweaks and amendments from each individual member.
There are two trade deals in the works that the so-called “fast track” authority would affect, but the closest to completion is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. is negotiating with 11 other Asian-Pacific nations.
During his presidential announcement in Arkansas on Tuesday, Huckabee called that deal “unbalanced” and said it could drive workers’ wages “lower than the Dead Sea.”
“Fast-track means that nobody’s paying attention. The last time we really fast-tracked something was Obamacare,” Huckabee told MSNBC on Wednesday. “Why do we ever want to again believe that the government fast-tracking something without thoroughly understanding the implications is the best way to go?”
Obama and his unusual allies in the Republican Party — along with a few Democrats — have argued that “fast track” authority is necessary for the deal to be completed. After all, that would mean the 11 other countries privy to the deal would be, in essence, negotiating with not only the administration, but also with 535 members of Congress.
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.