Abstract: Negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) commenced in 2013, and soon became the most controversial bilateral trade agreement negotiations ever attempted by the European Union (EU). When trying to understand the escalating debate over the proposed agreement, most analyses have highlighted opposition to the deal, especially from civil society organizations. However, a full understanding of the debate surrounding TTIP requires analysis of supporters’ responses, as these changed in response to strategies used by opponents of the agreement. This article uses a novel approach in trade policy scholarship—rhetorical analysis—to focus on the European Commission Trade Directorate’s response to contestation over TTIP. Drawing on work on the ‘rhetoric of reaction’, this article identifies the rhetorical strategies used by EU trade commissioners from 2013 to 2016. It outlines the evolution of the rhetoric and accompanying changes in process and policy, providing insights on the impact of TTIP politicization on the guiding principles of the EU’s trade policy.