Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tours Nelson-Mulligan Carpenters Training Center and meets voters at a campaign rally in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday morning, March 12, 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)


CLEVELAND — Seeking to undercut strident trade critic Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton said she supports tougher trade rules affecting the auto industry during a campaign stop today in Youngstown, Ohio.

According to a Clinton aide, Clinton will voice support or higher “rules of origin” standards that would prevent cars made mostly of foreign parts from benefiting from claiming to be “Made in America” under trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

We are going to enforce trade agreements,” Clinton said in Youngstown to a rowdy crowd at the M2 Technologies manufacturing facility. “We are not going any longer to be at the mercy of what any country is going to do to take advantage of our markets.”

Clinton has come under relentless fire from Sanders over her past support of trade deals –including the North America Free Trade Agreement under her husband’s administration — which have been blamed for job losses in states like Ohio and others that will vote on March 15. Clinton now opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that she advocated for as secretary of State.

“As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it,” Clinton said in a PBS interview in October.

The announcement is part of an effort to fortify her position against the TPP, which is a critical issue in states that have been negatively affected by Globalization, including Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

After Clinton’s unexpected loss in Michigan on Tuesday, which may have been driven by Sanders’ anti-trade message, Saturday’s announcement is a step toward strengthening her position on trade issues. Trade is a particularly salient issue for voters in the Rust Belt who are angry about how trade has affected manufacturing jobs in their communities.

Sanders, who is campaigning in Missouri, responded in a statement to Clinton’s announcement, criticizing her for her past support of both TPP and the 1990s-era NAFTA agreement.

“Now she says she wants to make it tougher for automobiles to be imported to this country under the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Sanders said. “That’s the deal she called the ‘gold standard’ when she was Secretary of State.”

“Well, I have a message for Secretary Clinton: We shouldn’t re-negotiate the Pacific trade proposal,” Sanders said. “We should kill this unfettered free-trade agreement which would cost us nearly half a million jobs.”

“We don’t need to tinker with this agreement. We need to defeat it. We need an entirely new trade policy that creates jobs in this country, not more low-wage jobs abroad.”

Clinton will be joined in Youngstown by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a vocal opponent of the 45 percent “rule of origin” that is currently part of the TPP deal, which he views as too low.

She also attacked Sanders for a vote against a bill that contained funding for the auto bailout in 2008.

I was proud to vote for the bill that enabled the recovery of the auto industry,” Clinton said. “My opponent voted for it before he voted against it.”