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Biden says Trump destroying auto industry he helped save

Kitco News

(Reuters) - Speaking in Iowa on the same day as Donald Trump, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden denounced the Republican U.S. president’s trade policies, saying they were easy for Trump to push when farmers and auto makers are feeling the pain.

Trump’s trade war with China has crushed American farmers, without countering the challenge that Chinese policies pose to the United States, Biden said in remarks he planned to deliver at a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa.

“He thinks he’s being tough,” Biden said. “Well, it’s easy to be tough when someone else is feeling the pain.”

Biden, who served for eight years as vice president under former President Barack Obama, will be in the early voting farm state of Iowa on the same day as Trump for the first time in the 2020 campaign cycle. Their separate appearances offer voters an early peek at the potential general election match-up between the Democratic front-runner and Republican incumbent who is seeking a second four-year term.

Trump is due to visit an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs on Tuesday before delivering remarks at an Iowa Republican Party dinner in Des Moines. Biden is making a four-city swing over two days.

Trump’s tariffs on steel and other metals have hit U.S. automakers, who are also concerned that future tariffs could be imposed on everything from critical technologies and components to fully assembled vehicles.

Biden noted that Obama bailed out the U.S. auto industry after the 2008 financial collapse.

“Now I’m watching Trump destroy the industry President Obama and I helped save,” Biden said.

Biden and Trump will be competing for the same white, working-class voters in Iowa and elsewhere who helped Trump win the 2016 election. Iowa holds the first Democratic nominating contest next February.

Biden, who leads a large field of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he hopes Trump’s presence in Iowa alongside him on Tuesday will be “a clarifying event.”

The Trump administration last month unveiled a $16 billion farm aid package to counter losses from a 10-month trade war with China. American farmers, a key Trump constituency, have been among the hardest hit in the trade war.

Biden hit Trump hard on China, saying the president’s policies will not be effective in the long-run against China’s growing influence and technological advances.

He said China is building roads, bridges and high-speed rail, and positioning itself to lead the world in renewable energy, while Trump pursues a “damaging and erratic trade war.”

“While Trump is tweeting, China is making massive investments in technologies of the future,” Biden said.

Trump promised this week to go ahead with a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods if no progress is made with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit later this month in Japan. Trump has said he expects to meet with Xi, but the Chinese have declined to confirm any summit.

Biden called for more investment in scientific research, infrastructure and a modern work force to help counter China, and to build a united front with allies to challenge China’s “abusive behavior.”

Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Will Dunham

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