LIVINGSTON – Presidential hopefuls Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have both planned economic speeches this week. Both will speak from Detroit, Michigan but Trump will give his proposal on Monday and Clinton her proposal on Thursday.
With the campaigns of both candidates preparing to discuss the finer points of their economic strategies, PolitickerNJ caught up with New Jersey U.S. Senator Bob Menendez–an enthusiastic Clinton supporter–to get his opinion on how he feels Clinton’s economic plan could bring white, working class voters that have largely flocked to Trump back into the fold for Democrats. A recent New York Times report noted that Clinton is struggling among white, less-educated (without a college degree) American voters, particularly men. According to that report, Trump’s “populist message” on trade is one of the reasons those voters are flocking to Trump.
“I think that as she lays out her economic plan, that will speak to the heart of what white working class voters are concerned about,” Menendez told PolitickerNJ. “They see their income stagnated. So, when she speaks to how do we raise incomes, how do we revitalize communities that have lost jobs, whether they have lost jobs because of trade or whether they have lost jobs because of globalization or whether they have lost jobs because industries have faded… I think when she speaks to those issues and shows people a hope and a vision, I think she can recapture those votes.”
One area where Trump has been repeatedly critical of Clinton is her stance on President Barack Obama’s favored Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). When Clinton was secretary of state, she was in favor of the trade deal. However, in October 2015 she reversed her position claiming that the TPP had failed to in efforts to secure good jobs and be the “gold standard” of trade she felt it should be. Despite that reversal, Trump has said that a vote for Clinton is a vote to support the TPP. According to Menendez, voters need to look at Clinton’s current stance on the deal rather than at her past vote in order to understand her hopes for a revitalized American economy.
“People need to realize that when you are the secretary of state you are not your own boss. You are beholden to the president of the United States,” Menendez said. “The president had a view, and has a view, that TPP is good and she was the secretary of state. I think, basically, what she said is that she wanted it to be held to the highest world-class standard. She said that if it is held to that standard it would have a lot of protections and enforcement positions. But, unfortunately, as she has said, that standard failed to be met and therefore she opposes TPP.”
According to the New York Times report, Trump leads Clinton among working class white voters without a degree 58 percent to 30 percent. In 2012, that demographic made up 44 percent of the electorate.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of PolitickerNJ and Observer Media.