Or is it that Bernie went the full Trump? Poll Americans on free trade over the last few years and you’re apt to find stronger support for protectionism among Republicans than Democrats. Maybe that’s due to simple partisanship, i.e. Dems feeling tribally obliged to defend Obama’s trade deals, or maybe it’s due to left-wing professionals having less to fear from international competition than the right-wing working class, but it is what it is. A typical result from the recent PRRI survey:

freetrade

Here’s the full transcript of today’s speech. Could this message win Pennsylvania and Ohio if delivered consistently by a disciplined candidate whom voters feel is up to the job? Darn tootin’. Will Trump himself be a disciplined candidate whom voters feel is up to the job come November, and will he deliver this message consistently instead of babbling about, say, whether the judge in his civil suit is a “Mexican”? TBD.

Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache…

The people who rigged the system for their benefit will do anything – and say anything – to keep things exactly as they are.

The people who rigged the system are supporting Hillary Clinton because they know as long as she is in charge nothing will ever change…

I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who’ve led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster after another.

Our friends in Britain recently voted to take back control of their economy, politics and borders.

I was on the right side of that issue – with the people – while Hillary, as always, stood with the elites, and both she and president Obama predicted that one wrong.

He was on the right side of Brexit? Well, he did say the day before the vote that his gut instinct would be to Leave, but he also said, “I don’t think anybody should listen to me because I haven’t really focused on it very much.” He also claimed the results “won’t have any effect on me,” which is financially untrue given the market downturn and obviously politically untrue given the obvious boost to his populist message that came with a majority of Brits choosing to buck elite consensus and get out.

But never mind that. Untruths and hyperbole are a given in Trump commentary. Here’s the best line of the speech, I think:

Hillary Clinton, and her campaign of fear, will try to spread the lie that these actions will start a trade war. She has it completely backwards.

Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible trade deal after another – from NAFTA to China to South Korea.

NAFTA and China’s admission to the WTO were both Clinton projects, he goes on to say, and TPP was Clinton-backed until Bernie Sanders scared her in the primaries into running away from it. (Trump tries to take credit for that, but hey — untruths and hyperbole.) If he spends the rest of the campaign selling American workers on the idea that their woes are due to a war that’s been waged on them for 20 years commanded by Gen. Hillary Clinton, sure, he can win this election. Good luck to him as president, though, once Americans figure out later that tariffs on Chinese goods aimed at protecting American jobs also mean higher prices at the store. When you force voters to choose between those two, the choice doesn’t come out Trump’s way. In fact, here’s an arresting graph via trade attorney Scott Lincicome, who spent Trump’s speech today live-tweeting inconvenient facts about American manufacturing and protectionism:

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At least we’ll have millions of new jobs once tariffs on China are imposed, though. Or Bangladesh will. Either way.

Whether the Republican leadership follows Trump’s lead on this or sticks with Paul-Ryan-style free trade probably depends on whether Trump wins this fall or not. That is to say, there’s a nonzero chance that we’ll have two protectionist parties to choose from in 2018, which would raise the likelihood of a third party emerging considerably. Exit question: Have any reporters cornered Trump yet on why he wrote in 2005 that “Outsourcing creates jobs in the long run”? And why he wrote just three years ago that “We will have to leave borders behind and go for global unity when it comes to financial stability”? When exactly did this guy become a protectionist?

Update: Fixed a typo in the first paragraph.