President Trump champions USMCA trade deal in RNC speech

President Trump officially accepted the re-nomination as the Republican nominee for president in a speech Thursday, highlighting trade policies that Iowans know well.

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Julia Shanahan and Caleb McCullough


President Trump officially accepted the re-nomination as the Republican candidate for president on Thursday and referenced the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement more than once— something he touted in Iowa ahead of the caucuses.

“Right now auto companies and others are building their plants and factories in America, not firing their employees, and not deserting us for other countries,” he said Thursday at the Republican National Convention.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds praised Trump in RNC speeches this week for Trump’s work on agriculture policies, pointing to trade agreements and the approval of year-round sales of E-15.

Trump didn’t spend much time talking about agriculture policy, but he did bring up the USMCA, attacking Biden for voting for the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals, and for supporting adding China to the World Trade Organization.

“Biden voted for the NAFTA disaster, the single worst trade deal ever enacted, and supported China’s entry into the World Trade Organization,” Trump said.

Canada and Mexico are some of Iowa’s biggest trading partners, accounting for nearly 46 percent of exports in the state in 2018. The USMCA was officially enacted in early July, and the deal is supposed to provide greater incentives to manufacture products in North America.

Both Democratic and Republican leaders in Iowa supported the deal ahead of its passage and said it would offset some of the lost agriculture revenues in the trade war with China.

There was one stark contrast between Trump’s acceptance speech and Joe Biden’s — Trump gave a rally-style speech outside to a largely maskless audience of about 1,000 that was seated close together. Biden gave his speech to a room of journalists, and did not have an audience.

Trump is known for holding large campaign rallies, often drawing hundreds to thousands of people, as seen in Iowa just four days before the Iowa caucuses.

Trump’s last rally in Iowa was on Jan. 30 in Des Moines, where much of his speech focused on work he’s done that has affected Iowa farmers. Here Trump championed the USMCA he had signed that week, touting the agreement as a win for Iowa’s agriculture sector.

RELATED: Tying the knot in a process that began in Iowa, Joe Biden accepts Democratic nomination for president

While Trump’s trade negotiations with China resulted in $28 billion in federal relief to farmers across the country, Trump still has high favorability among farm and agriculture workers. In a May 2020 Farm Journal Pulse poll, more than 1,100 farmers were polled, giving Trump an 80 percent approval rating.

On the coronavirus, Trump touted recently approved therapies for COVID-19 and said there would be a vaccine against the virus by the end of the year. He said he’s lost friends to the virus, and while Trump called the tens of thousands of U.S. deaths tragic, he said Biden would inflict a “painful shutdown” on the country if he was elected president.

“Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, rather, it’s a surrender to the virus,” Trump said.

Four of Iowa’s national delegates who made the trip to Charlotte, North Carolina for the convention praised Trump’s economic policies and derided Biden as a radical candidate in a Thursday press conference.

“I would say that Republicans and our president are absolutely crushing it,” Iowa delegate Anthony Marlowe said. “And that both from an economic perspective, a law and order perspective, and a American exceptionalism perspective, that a wide group, all Americans, have a vested interest in not only giving this president and this Vice President, another four years, but retaining the Senate, and giving this president back the House.”

Trump’s speech was also about an hour long, while Biden’s speech was about 25 minutes.

Trump also embraced a message of law and order, a common theme across the week. He claimed Joe Biden said he would support reducing funding for the police, though Biden never said that and has instead called for increasing funding to police departments.

He referred to protesters as rioters and anarchists and said Biden’s presidency would lead to defunding of police departments across the country.

If the Democrat Party wants to stand with anarchists, agitators, rioters, looters and flag burners, that is up to them,” Trump said. “But I, as your president, will not be a part of it.

Editor’s note: The Daily Iowan incorrectly stated that the May 2020 poll referenced in the article was conducted by Agri-Pulse. The poll referenced was conducted by Farm Journal Pulse. The DI regrets the error.

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