If you missed any of President Donald Trump’s visit to Iowa today, don’t worry. You’ll likely see video clips of the roundtable he held just outside Dubuque for months to come in Democratic campaign commercials.
Trump brought several of his cabinet secretaries and his daughter Ivanka with him to a visit at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta for a workforce development event. Governor Kim Reynolds sat right next to him. Trump himself came off as much more coherent than he is at some of his campaign rallies, but there were many things said that could come back to haunt Republicans later on.
Here were some of the lowlights of the visit:
1. Secretary of Commerce jokes about unemployed Iowans. Before Trump even arrived to the event, his scandal-plagued Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross joked about unemployed people disrupting their plane’s landing.
Wilbur Ross talked to reporters briefly during a particularly bumpy landing into Iowa this afternoon. “Must be some unemployed worker shaking the plane,” he joked after one especially large bounce.
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) July 26, 2018
2. Trump forgets Rod Blum’s name. Twice during the event Trump accidentally referred to Iowa’s 1st District congressman as “Matt Blum.” He did clearly know it was Rod, however, correctly saying the congressman’s name many other times during the event. It was still an awkward moment that no one corrected him on.
3. Blum thanks Trump for trade war. The most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the nation may have made matters worse for himself by standing up for Trump’s trade wars. “Thank you for having political courage to renegotiate these trade deals,” Blum told Trump. “You’ve taken some heat for it in the short-term, but in the long-run, the farmers, the manufacturers, the employers are all going to better off.”
If the tariff situation doesn’t get better soon – and there’s increasing worry out there among farmers that it won’t – this will be one awfully big example of Blum’s bad judgement in the eyes of rural voters. Most economists point to exactly the long-term consequences of the trade dispute, noting it’s disrupting markets that American farmers have spent decades cultivating. Blum lavished the president with compliments today instead of pressing him on resolving the crisis. It’s a much different approach than Iowa’s 3rd District Congressman David Young, who broke sharply with the president in recent days.
4. Trump praises Blum for tax cuts. If the tax cuts that largely benefited the rich continue to poll poorly in Iowa’s 1st District, watch for Trump’s quote of “Without Rod, we wouldn’t have our massive tax cuts” from today to find its way into lots of Democratic TV ads. Trump also credited Blum for successfully securing funding for a flood wall in Cedar Rapids. That’s something that will certainly show up in positive Republican TV ads.
5. Trump lies about trade deals. At one point, Trump said, “We just opened up Europe for you farmers. You’re not going to be too angry with Trump, I can tell you.” What he was referring to was his meeting yesterday with the E.U. leader about future discussions on trade issues. But they merely signed an intent to talk about it further, and to hold off on any new tariffs while that debate plays out. He did not sign a trade deal with Europe. Farmers who are following every development very closely know this. Trump’s boisterous and often false pronouncements may have seemed funny to his supporters in the past; congratulating himself for things that haven’t happened yet may start to grow tiresome to Iowans getting hurt financially.
6. Trump tries out nickname for Finkenauer. As we noted in a recent podcast, Republican Chair Jeff Kaufmann has tried to get Trump-like nicknames to stick with various Democrats running in Iowa, but the pithy insults never seem to have the same effect when it’s coming from anyone other than Trump. The president seemed to take a shine to the “Absent Abby” nickname Kaufmann has attached to Abby Finkenauer, a misleading title suggesting she’s missed a lot of votes in the Statehouse. Finkenauer took it in stride, however:
— Abby Finkenauer (@Abby4Iowa) July 26, 2018
Of course, none of what was said today will likely cause as many future problems for Republicans in the state than Trump’s tweet from earlier in the week where he said, “Tariffs are the greatest!”
Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed. All will be Great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
That will be more than enough to remind struggling farmers and manufacturing workers this Fall about how much this Republican presidency – and his Iowa enablers – have hurt them.
by Pat Rynard