WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has an offer for Democrats who fear political attacks if they back his trade agenda: Give me your vote now, and I’ll have your back come re-election next year.
Days from a critical House vote, it’s still far from certain Obama can muster enough votes. Although Republican leaders in Congress strongly support the budding trade deals, Obama has little leverage with individual GOP lawmakers. So the president has been dangling a carrot in front of Democrats in the form of a promise to campaign for them in 2016 if they face primary challenges or attacks by unions that have vehemently opposed his trade agenda.
White House officials have sought to differentiate Obama’s offer of support from the more heavy-handed tactics they say the unions are deploying to scare Democrats. On Monday, the AFL-CIO said it was ramping up its television ad campaign attacking Democrats who have backed the trade bill — and warning those on the fence not to make the same choice.
“I’m not going to hypothesize about not getting it done,” Obama, attending a Group of Seven meeting in Germany, said Monday when asked whether he had enough votes. “I intend to get it done.”