Former Vice President Joe Biden slammed President Donald Trump’s handling of relations with China during his first trip to New Hampshire on Monday, criticizing the president for increasing ‘tariffs, the debt and the trade deficit.’
‘He’s going about all the wrong way,’ Biden told reporters during his community stop at a local pizza place in Hampton.
‘The president has done nothing but increase the tariffs, the debt, and the trade deficit,’ he noted.
Biden also said it was the working people and farmers – a major part of the president’s base – who are paying the price.
‘The only people paying the price are farmers and working people right now,’ he said.
U.S. farmers have been among the hardest hit in the trade war, with soybean shipments to China dropping to a 16-year low in 2018.
Biden’s snipe comes after President Trump lashed out at him as concerns about retaliatory action from China have grown after the administration began raising tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on Friday.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday that the deal with China was ’95 percent’ done on Friday when Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told him it was off.
That’s when the president ordered the tariff increase.
China fired back on Monday with a tariff hike on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods.
Trump, however, has been spinning the situation as China wanted to wait it out and hope they get a weaker negotiator after the 2020 election.
The president claims ‘Sleepy Joe’ – as he has nicknamed Biden – would not be as tough on Beijing.
‘China is DREAMING that Sleepy Joe Biden, or any of the others, gets elected in 2020. They LOVE ripping off America!,’ the president tweeted on Sunday.
On Monday morning he retweeted a tweet from Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel that slammed Biden: ‘Joe Biden let China get away with cheating when he was Vice President, and he continues to naively dismiss China today.’
His attacks came ahead of Biden’s first trip to New Hampshire, the first state to vote in the Democratic primary process.
Biden was warmly received at his first stop of the day by the packed room at the pizza parlor ‘The Community Oven.’
‘I’m going to be here a lot,’ the former vice president warned the crowd. ‘The bad news is I’m coming back.’
After his speech he stayed in the restaurant for about 30 minutes, talking to votes and taking selfies.
Several women came up to him to give him hugs and kiss him on the cheek.
One woman kissed him and told Biden she was a breast cancer survivor who had visited his home when he was vice president.
‘I thought I recognized you,’ he responded, giving her a hug.
The crowd pressed in and called for his attention.
‘Joe hug Tootsie,’ a gentleman yelled at him.
The former vice president promptly stopped to hug an elderly lady.
‘Give him hell, Joe,’ another person encouraged him.
An elderly man with a point-and-shoot camera asked Biden for a photo. ‘I’m the old fashioned type,’ he explained as he handed his camera to an aide to take the shot.
Biden kept his remarks short and folksy – talking about his family and his work with former President Barack Obama, which received a great deal of applause from the crowd.
He also got a lot of cheering when he called for a repeal of the tax cut passed by Trump and Republicans in 2017.
He told the crowd he was running because ‘this election is, frankly, bigger than politics.’ He did not mention Trump by name but cited the ‘currant occupant’ in the Oval Office as the reasoning
He also vowed to get more specific on his policy positions – starting with an environmental policy speech by the end of May.
‘I’m laying out a major speech in detail by the end of the month on my specific pieces on the environment. We need an environmental revolution,’ he said.
But, he noted, ‘we do need to finish this green revolution in a way that’s rational.’
He also talked about why he didn’t run in 2016, claiming he didn’t want to challenge Hillary Clinton since she was a friend and recounting his son Beau’s battle with brain cancer. Beau Biden died in 2015.
‘I wasn’t going to run against Hillary. She’s my friend,’ Biden said.
Biden spoke off the cuff with no notes or a teleprompter. He took questions from the audience afterward.
‘What I’m most passionate about is fighting the abuse of power,’ he said in response to a question about his passion outside of work and family.
‘I looked at everything I’ve ever been involved in and it’s all been about the abuse of power,’ he noted.
‘I’ve never liked bullies,’ he added.
Then he got personal with the crowd, talking about he was the ‘runt of the litter’ as a kid and stuttered badly in high school.
‘I was the runt of the litter, when I was a kid I stuttered,’ Biden said, noting he 5’3 or 5’4 and 107 pounds his freshman year of high school.
Biden’s first foray into the Granite State came as Trump has been handicapping the Democratic presidential field – an unprecedented interference by the head of one party into the primary election of another’s.
And he’s launches a series of attacks via Twitter – his political weapon of choice – as Biden enjoys a bump in the polls after his official entry into the presidential field.
The former vice president will spend two days in the state that holds the first presidential primary. After his community stop, he’ll hold a town hall in Manchester on Monday evening followed by a house party in Nashua on Tuesday.
Biden has enjoyed an early lead in the polls, including in the general election match up with Trump.
The RealClearPolitics polling average has him leading the president by 7.3 per cent.
Trump, meanwhile, has given his two cents on the field of contenders vying to take him on in 2020.
The president has declared it a two-man race between Biden and Bernie Sanders and dubbed them with dismissive monikers – a strategy that worked for him when he used it against his political rivals in the 2016 Republican primary process.
‘Looks to me like it’s going to be SleepyCreepy Joe over Crazy Bernie. Everyone else is fading fast!’ Trump wrote on Twitter Friday.
But it’s Biden who is enduring a heavy dose of Trump’s wrath as many Republicans fear he is the candidate that can defeat the president next November.
Many Republicans are concerned Biden will appeal to the same blue-collar voters in the Midwest states – Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa – that helped put Trump in the Oval Office.
The former vice president has made it his strategy to take on Trump from the start, blasting the president’s leadership.
‘I came here because, quite frankly folks, if I’m going to beat Donald Trump in 2020, it’s going to happen here,’ Biden told union supporters at a Pittsburgh rally at the end of April.
Trump, meanwhile, is using a strategy that worked for him in the 2016 primary: labeling his foe with derogatory names – like he labeled ‘low energy’ Jeb Bush and ‘Little’ Marco Rubio.
Those attacks resulted in the candidates defending themselves against Trump’s accusations and ultimately giving the New York businessman the presidential nomination.
The nicknames strategy also worked because the names stick – Crooked Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren – and show the president’s tendency to make contests about personalities rather than policy.
Biden, meanwhile, will focus on his message of rebuilding the middle class and unifying the country during his New Hampshire stops.
After his visit to the Granite State he’ll hold a rally in Philadelphia on Saturday, May 18.