Hillary Clinton dissed him. Nancy Pelosi subverted him. Now, it's looking ever more unlikely that the White House will be able to muster support in the House for President Obama's trade agenda.
Behind the scenes, the intense push that brought Obama to Capitol Hill last week to lobby House Democrats has cooled. And with the legislative math adding up to a sum not in the White House's favor—roughly 75 of the Democrats who voted no on Trade Adjustment Assistance need to change their tune for the bill to pass—it has an uphill, if not impossible, climb.
That's not the public message, of course. Despite standing alone on trade, the White House says it is still confident in Congress' ability to pass TAA—which more than 300 Democrats and Republicans voted down Friday, but which remains the key to getting fast-track trade legislation, or Trade Promotion Authority, through Congress.
The White House's public optimism started shortly after the House roundly shot down a crucial element of the president's trade agenda. At his Friday afternoon briefing, just after the key vote, press secretary Josh Earnest greeted reporters with a lighthearted smile, encouraging the press corps to "cheer up" and asserting that he was in good cheer because the House passed the so-called fast-track bill after rejecting the TAA measure. Obama came out with an upbeat statement highlighting that Congress had passed a bill giving him and his successors fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade deals, and downplaying the disastrous TAA vote.