(Updates with Obama quotes from Oval Office)
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Sept 16 U.S. President Barack Obama
on Friday engaged Ohio Governor John Kasich, a high-profile
political foe, to help press Republicans to approve the
12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal before he leaves
office in four months.
Obama discussed strategy for how to overcome domestic
political angst over the TPP with Kasich, who fell short in his
bid to be the Republican presidential candidate, and arranged
for him to speak with reporters afterward from the White House
briefing room lectern.
The unusual move was a sign of how the White House intends
to make a final full-court push to persuade Republican leaders
in the U.S. Congress to approve the deal in a "lame duck"
session after the Nov. 8 election, where the TPP has been
pilloried by both Republican and Democratic candidates.
"Right now, China is pushing hard to create their own trade
agreement," Obama told reporters in the Oval Office, saying
American businesses were at risk of being "cut out" of Asia, the
world's fastest growing market.
"I promise you that China's not going to be setting up a
bunch of rules that are going to be to the advantage of American
companies and American businesses," Obama said.
Kasich was joined by other business and political leaders,
including former Republican Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson,
International Business Machines Corp Chief Executive
Officer Virginia Rometty and former New York City Mayor Michael
Ahead of the meeting, Kasich told CNN that he knew he would
be criticized for meeting with Obama but said passage of the
trade deal was vital.
"The two most vociferous opponents of the trade agreement
are (Russian President) Vladimir Putin and (Chinese President)
Xi (Jinping), one of the most repressive leaders in the history
of China," he said. "That in and of itself can tell you why this
agreement is so important."
Republicans traditionally have backed free trade deals, but
their presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has blamed the
agreements for U.S. job losses and threatened to tear them up
should he win.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the deal
would not get a Senate vote this year, and House Speaker Paul
Ryan has said he does not see enough votes for it to pass.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also
opposed the deal, which is unpopular with labor unions and
Obama has said he hopes opposition cools after the election.
The White House has pointed to opinion polls showing most
Americans support trade as a sign that the TPP could still
squeak through Congress.
"If you're frustrated about rules of trade that disadvantage
America, if you're frustrated about jobs being shipped overseas
... then you want to get this thing passed, you want to get this
thing done," Obama told reporters.
On his final trip to Asia earlier this month, Obama spent
time reassuring nervous partners that the United States would
finalize the deal. But on Friday, Vietnam's parliament indicated
it would not ratify the deal quickly.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and