May 27. 2015 3:40PM

Bernie Sanders calls out Clinton on trade pact

New Hampshire Union Leader

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd outside his town hall event Wednesday in Concord. (Dan Tuohy / Union Leader)

CONCORD – Bernie Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination for president, for not taking a clear stand for or against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Sanders, speaking at a campaign stop in Concord on Wednesday, was asked about Clinton. In response, he said America needs a serious debate on issues, and he then referenced the Trans-Pacific Partnership and how he was leading the opposition to the trade agreement.

“Now, Hillary Clinton can be for the trade agreement – the President is,” Sanders said. “She can be against the trade agreement. I am, Elizabeth Warren, many of us are. But I just don’t know how you don’t have an opinion on this enormously important issue, which is her view.”

Clinton remains undecided on the TPP, as it’s called, telling reporters last week that she wanted to see what is in the trade agreement first before saying it's a bad deal or good deal for jobs and labor standards.

Sanders, a day after officially kicking off his underdog campaign in Vermont, spoke to a packed room at the Concord office of New England College.

Afterward, he walked out to a nearby courtyard where grabbed a bull horn to speak to an overflow crowd. He said his campaign would focus on fighting income inequality and the influence of big money in politics.

In his town hall event, Sanders spoke about free tuition to public colleges and the importance of universal health care, Social Security, and keeping promises to veterans.

“I am not here to tell you with 100 percent certainty that we can beat these guys,” he said. “This billionaire class has enormous power over the Congress. They have enormous power over the media and they obviously own much of the economy. But what my campaign for president is about is to say we are not going to give up. We love this country too much to say that the billionaire class can have it all.”

Sanders is a self-described Democratic socialist who, as an Independent in the U.S. Senate, caucuses with the Democrats. He once served alongside Clinton in the Senate. In an interview with the Union Leader this spring, he said he had never run a negative political ad in his life. On Wednesday in New Hampshire, he repeated that line, but he was more fiery as a declared candidate.

A woman in the audience mentioned Clinton and said to him during the town hall event, “Why can’t we ask Hillary to give up her spot and give it to you?”
Sanders replied that the 2016 should be about the serious issues facing America.

“These campaigns are not about Hillary Clinton or about Bernie Sanders or about Jeb Bush or anybody else. They’re about you,” Sanders said.

He went on to mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership and knock Clinton.
The final question at the event came from Karl Bergeron, a Vietnam War veteran from Northwood, who said he has supported Sanders for years.

“We can no longer be afraid. We have to reach out to everyone and encourage them to look at the issues,” Bergeron said. “People say to me: ‘You’re going to take votes away from Hillary.’ And I say, that’s good, because I want Bernie Sanders in the White House.”

Sanders was scheduled to attend a house party in Epping on Wednesday before a town hall meeting at the South Church in Portsmouth on Wednesday night.

The field of Democrats will soon add another. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is set to make an announcement Saturday in Baltimore, and then visit New Hampshire for stops in Manchester, Gilford and Hanover.