WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2016 - The Wikileaks dump of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, show that her advisers considered her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership to be a “close call.” In an October 2015 email, a Clinton speechwriter warned that the campaign had to be careful in wording her statement of opposition to the 12-nation trade deal since she had once supported it.

“This is indeed a hard balance to strike, since we don't want to invite mockery for being too enthusiastically opposed to a deal she once championed, or over-claiming how bad it is, since it's a very close call on the merits,” the staffer wrote. 

Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Clinton for once saying that the TPP would be the “gold standard” of trade deals. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defends Clinton, saying she made the remarks before the deal was final. 

GMO labeling advocate tried to influence Clinton. The email traffic also shows that a leader of the GMO labeling movement made numerous attempts to shape Clinton’s message on biotechnology and on labeling legislation pending in the Senate.

In several emails, Gary Hirshberg warned that Sen. Bernie Sanders was getting to the left of Clinton on the biotech issue.  “A solid statement in opposition” to legislation proposed by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts “would go a long way to putting an end to this flank of Bernie's support,” Hirshberg wrote in February. 

Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm and the Just Label It campaign, had forwarded Podesta an email from a consumer advocate who suggested Clinton couldn’t be trusted on the biotech issue. 

In another email in December 2015, Hirshberg said it was “clear that she does not have a consistent message” on the labeling issue. But it’s not obvious what Hirschberg’s complaint was. His email came in response to a question about whether GMOs should be labeled. Clinton had responded that she supported state labeling requirements and opposed a proposed policy rider that would have preempted Vermont’s labeling law. 

Hirshberg, who held a fundraiser with Clinton in the summer of 2015, couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday. The executive director of Just Label It, Scott Faber, said there “wasn’t a single policy maker” he didn’t lobby for mandatory GMO labeling. Faber said he didn’t know what Hirshberg may have discussed with Clinton herself. 

Podesta’s headache advice: Quit the GMOs. Podesta said little in the correspondence about his views on GMOs, but the campaign director did have some unusual advice on biotech food in response to an aide who was suffering from a migraine. “Take care of yourself and cut out the gmo’s,” the email says. 

Vilsack keynotes Food Prize conference. This year’s World Food Prize conference, the Borlaug Dialogue, begins today in Des Moines, Iowa. Vilsack is expected to talk on Thursday about the Global Food Security Act, which writes into law for the first time President Obama’s $1-billion-a-year Feed the Future initiative. Vilsack will also talk about how innovation is needed to alleviate hunger around the world. 

Grassley: No vote on Garland. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley warns that the next new Supreme Court justice could have an impact on the way that agriculture is regulated. But he ruled out a vote on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, even though some observers believe he would be more moderate than someone a President Clinton might pick. 

“If we had time (on the calendar), we wouldn’t do it,” Grassley said when asked if Garland could still get a vote. 

Grassley said Clinton would nominate justices that would vote “for more government regulation and giving EPA all the power the EPA thinks it has. . . you’re going to have 5-4 or 6-3 decisions against private property.”

You can listen to more of Grassley’s comments on Clinton by clicking here. 

Cruz reaching out to Texas farmers. Sen. Ted Cruz, who had to be persuaded to reverse his vote in favor of a cut in crop insurance earlier in this Congress, is assuring Texas farmers that he “strongly” supports the program. During a tour of farms around the Texas panhandle that wrapped up yesterday, Cruz called crop insurance “a vital function of the federal government,” according to a news account.

Cruz, who was a top contender for the GOP nomination, voted for a cut in crop insurance in a budget deal but switched his vote after getting advice from Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. 

Cruz also reiterated this week that he voted against the 2014 farm bill primarily because he thought it allowed too much spending on nutrition assistance.

He said it. “Sometimes the barn is so infested with rats you just have to burn the damn thing down and start over.” - John Weaver, a campaign adviser to Ohio Sen. John Kasich, on Twitter 

Spencer Chase contributed to this report. 


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