The Republican Party appears to be taking some of the bite out of Donald Trump's fiercest trade criticism, crafting a platform closer to its traditional trade views but taking a neutral position on President Barack Obama's signature trade achievement, the TPP.

[Megan Cassella| July 12, 2016 | Politico

"It's always better to have calm words instead of table pounding, but it's still disappointing," said Bill Reinsch, a trade policy specialist at the Stimson Center, responding to developments in the Republican Platform Committee on Monday in Cleveland. "While it's a step back from [Trump's] rhetoric, it's a step in the direction of his position."

Party officials were caught in an awkward spot because of Trump's attacks on both NAFTA and the proposed TPP pact with Japan and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific. The first deal was concluded during the administration of George H.W. Bush, while the second was started by his son, George W. Bush. But Trump's harsh critique of the pacts resonated with Republican primary voters and helped him gallop to victory in state contests, particularly in the industrial Midwest.

"The party is split over this," said Dan Ikenson, director of trade policy studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that supports TPP. "The people in Washington tend to be more pro-trade than the people they represent." The intricate dance resembles the one taking place in the Democratic Party, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both oppose TPP but Obama still hopes to win approval of the agreement before leaving office. Read more of Kyle Cheney and Doug Palmer's coverage of action in Cleveland here.

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