Government

At Iowa fundraiser, Trump decries 'calamitous' trade policies of the past

He gives 'ultimate vision' for tariffs

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa, June 11, 2019.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa, June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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WEST DES MOINES — President Donald Trump came to Iowa on Tuesday to tout his trade and tariff strategies, calling himself “the best thing that ever happened to farmers” and predicting he will carry the swing state for Republicans again in 2020.

Trump, in remarks to reporters distributed by the White House press office, contrasted himself with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who also campaigned Tuesday in Iowa, calling the former vice president “a loser” that Barack Obama took “off the trash heap.”

On his fourth trip to Iowa since becoming president, Trump laid out the framework for a reelection bid that will focus on immigration policy, abortion restrictions, tough trade and foreign policy stances and a strong economy fueled by tax cuts and regulatory overhauls.

“We’re undoing decades of calamitous trade policies and reversing eight painful years of economic surrender. We have surrendered. We had. ... There’s no surrender now,” Trump told about 800 Iowa Republicans who applauded his 46-minute speech before savoring a fundraising meal and the prospects for election victories next year. “We just did a wonderful deal on the border with Mexico and it’s going to be a big difference. And we’re doing a job with China. Watch what happens with China.”

Trump, who carried Iowa in the 2016 election, said he has been an ally and friend to America’s farmers since taking office. He said his policies have created a booming economy, cut taxes and expanded job opportunities with wages outpacing inflation while pushing unemployment to record low rates.

“Every day it’s promises made and promises kept,” he said.

By contrast, Trump said, Democrats have become the party of socialism, offering costly and unworkable ideas that will undo the positive momentum his presidency has created.

“The Democrats have never been more out of touch with the mainstream. They’re totally out of touch,” he said. “They will destroy this country. We’ll be Venezuela. Don’t let it happen to us,” he said.

During his Eastern Iowa stops, Biden said Iowa farmers are feeling the pain of Trump’s “erratic trade wars and climate denial,” Iowa manufacturers are feeling the pain of his “bluster and threats to our close trade partners,” and every Iowan feels the pain of Trump’s “unrelenting attack” on health care.

Trump did not mention Biden by name during his fundraiser remarks but told members of the White House press corps before heading to Iowa that the fact that Biden had to attack him repeatedly was evidence “he’s in trouble” and lacks a salient message.

“I’d rather run against, I think, Biden than anybody,” the president said. “I think he’s the weakest, mentally. And I like running against people that are weak, mentally. I think Joe is the weakest up here. The other ones have much more energy. I don’t agree with their policies, but I think Joe is a man who is — I call him “1 percent Joe” — because until Obama came along, he didn’t do very well.”

Trump, on the other hand, said that “the best thing that ever happened to the farmers is me.”

The president said his administration is providing $16 billion in support for farmers “to make up for the deficit with China” against unfair trade practices. He also is working to streamline the regulatory process for agricultural biotechnology, signing an executive order Tuesday.

“We gave them $16 billion. We don’t give them; they earn it, because they’re patriots. We gave them ethanol at 15, which nobody was ever going to do; which Biden didn’t do in eight years as, you know, vice president,” Trump told reporters. “The farmers are my best friend. Nobody has treated the farmers better than Donald Trump.”

He also said his policies have created a booming economy, cut taxes and expanded job opportunities with wages outpacing inflation while pushing unemployment to record low rates.

“President Trump has been the disrupter that we needed in Washington,” said Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta. “The ideas coming from Democrats are extreme.”

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Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, said the president used “an intimate dinner” with 800 Iowa Republicans to take the tariff issue “head on” by presenting his “ultimate vision” for the tariff and trade disputes.

“I think he’s sending a message — it’s not just rhetoric, he does love our state,” said Kaufmann.

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price said Iowa Republicans are defending Trump “at all costs” even though Trump’s trade policies “are costing our state billions of dollars.”

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