Sensing his free trade agenda was hours from a stunning defeat, President Barack Obama went to Capitol Hill on Friday morning to make a personal plea for his own party's support.
Democrats ignored him.
And now, the prospects for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest free trade deal in history, to be finalized and adopted are grim -- unless Democrats can be convinced to change their minds or Republicans can find another way to revive the bills and rescue Obama's biggest second-term legislative priority.
The House overwhelmingly rejected the first in a series of trade bills Friday, with Democrats voting against a program that aids displaced workers -- in large part because, under the chamber's procedures, its defeat meant the vote on the so-called "fast track" bill that followed was only symbolic, so the measure couldn't be sent to Obama's desk.
The vote provided the clearest evidence yet that, with 19 months left in his presidency, Obama's pulpit is less bully than it's ever been before.