Sonny Perdue’s surprising role in saving NAFTA

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue smiles as he waits for an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

President Donald Trump was all set to “terminate” the North American Free Trade Agreement to mark the 100-day milestone of his presidency. Until, that is, a handful of his top advisers sat down with him in the White House to press him to go another route.

In an exclusive interview, The Washington Post has the fascinating tale of his sudden shift:

As news of the president’s plan reached Ottawa and Mexico City in the middle of the week and rattled the markets and Congress, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and others huddled in meetings with Trump, urging him not to sign a document triggering a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA.

 

Perdue even brought along a prop to the Oval Office: A map of the United States that illustrated the areas that would be hardest hit, particularly from agriculture and manufacturing losses, and highlighting that many of those states and counties were “Trump country” communities that had voted for the president in November.

 

“It shows that I do have a very big farmer base, which is good,” Trump recalled. “They like Trump, but I like them, and I’m going to help them.”

You know the rest: By Wednesday evening, Trump had backed off his plans despite spending much of the campaign trail railing against the trade agreement.

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The outside money keeps pouring into Georgia’s 6th District runoff.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to Paul Ryan, told us earlier this week that it was pouring in another $3.5 million into the contest. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also expected to soon unleash an ad blitz. Now Politico reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved $3.65 million in ad time ahead of the June 20 runoff.

Aides to Democrat Jon Ossoff, who has also benefited from a surge of out-of-state donations, raised alarms at “anonymous super PACs” helping Handel’s campaign. Ossoff raised more than $8.3 million, largely from contributors outside the district who gave an average donation of about $43.

“In Congress, Jon Ossoff will be accountable to Georgians,” said Ossoff campaign manager Keenan Pontoni. “But because we don’t know who is bankrolling her campaign, we simply don’t know who Karen Handel is accountable to.”

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Republican Karen Handel’s campaign said she was “extremely troubled” with a provision in the emerging GOP plan to replace Obamacare that would have shielded members of Congress from some of the changes.

Handel’s campaign said in a statement earlier this week that she’s committed to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and that she’s confident Congress will adopt a new law that “will provide patient centered care at lower costs.”

“With that said, she is extremely troubled with reports that language was added to the latest bill that exempts members of Congress from the same provisions average Americans will face,” her campaign spokeswoman said.

Republicans appear to have struck a deal that would allow states to opt out Obamacare’s basic coverage requirements as long as they first get a waiver. But an amendment that would have exempted members of Congress and their staffs from the changes sparked controversy and forced its sponsor to pledge to close the loophole.

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We are picking up word that state Sen. Steve Gooch is considering a run for lieutenant governor, which could set up a Senate grudge match against fellow Republican David Shafer.

State Rep. Geoff Duncan is also in the race, formally announcing his candidacy earlier this month.

 

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