As Congress considers whether to give President Barack Obama "fast-track authority" to negotiate a trade deal with 11 Pacific countries, some GOP presidential candidates are aligning with critics like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and speaking out against a possible agreement.
The debate comes as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders try to shepherd legislation that would give give Obama Trade Promotion Authority, which would only allow Congress to give any deal negotiated by Obama an up-or-down vote. Getting the approximately 200 GOP votes needed to pass TPA could prove difficult for Boehner, given that there are many rank-and-file Republicans who oppose ceding authority to Obama and the trade deal itself.
Speaking to The Huffington Post in Boone, Iowa, this weekend, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both contenders for the GOP nomination, highlighted some of the Republican objections to the deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
"I think free trade is a wonderful thing, but I think it needs to be done the right way. We are a republic, and that means that the people are in charge through their representatives, and the president is only one person. And I think we need to have much more input. These are very important agreements that need to be made," Carson said during an interview at an event hosted by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).
Huckabee said many people pushing the TPP don't even know what it entails.
"Nobody has seen this trade pact except for a few that go into the secret room. Most of the senators who are pushing it haven't even read it," he said. "And it's very likely to turn a lot of power over to some multinational body that is not answerable to the United States taxpayers."
The Obama administration has blocked members of Congress from sharing details of the deal with the public.
Huckabee's concerns about the deal echo those of Warren, who has argued that the deal would allow corporations to undermine Dodd-Frank financial regulations.
The Obama administration has said the TPP is "the most progressive framework for trade" that the United States has ever had. But critics have said that the deal could undermine U.S. labor and environmental regulations while rewarding countries that have horrific human rights records.
Huckabee also said that the deal just didn't make sense for American workers.
"When people say, 'Oh, this is gonna be great,' well, it may be great for some investors in multinational corporations, but I wanna know when is it gonna be great for American workers? Because they're taking it in the gut right now," he said. "It doesn't make sense for jobs to be driven to some other country and let Americans figure out how to feed their families."
Video interviews conducted by Samantha-Jo Roth in Boone, Iowa.