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Biden Criticizes Trump Tariff Effects On Iowa Farmers, Says He Will Spend More Time In Iowa

joe biden
Katarina Sostaric
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Ottumwa Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Iowa Tuesday to run against President Trump, who was also in the state for a fundraiser.

At his first campaign stop of the day in Ottumwa, Biden called President Trump an “existential threat” to America and the country’s core values. He criticized Trump for policies he said are hurting farmers.

“I hope his presence here will be a clarifying event because Iowa farmers have been crushed by his tariff war with China,” Biden said. “And no one knows better than the folks in Iowa. He thinks that being tough is great. Well it’s really easy to be tough when someone else absorbs the pain.”

President Donald Trump was in the state gathering support from farmers for lifting restrictions on ethanol.

Speaking in Council Bluffs, President Trump celebrated his administration’s decision to allow year-round sales of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol. Trump also said he’s doing a better job fighting for Midwest farmers and claimed the Obama administration was not taken seriously by other countries. 

“And you see that with Biden,” Trump said to the crowd gathered in Council Bluffs. “We would never be treated with respect because people don’t respect him. Even the people he’s running against. They’re saying where is he? What happened?”

Biden missed a Cedar Rapids event over the weekend that was attended by 19 Democratic primary candidates.

On this visit, he defended his absence, saying he didn’t want to miss his daughter’s birthday and granddaughter’s graduation.

“Well I got a different value set. It’s family, family, family,” Biden said to applause from the crowd in Ottumwa. “And I make no apologies for not showing up and speaking for five minutes since I got almost eight months to come and talk to you all.”

The former vice president was the top Democrat in a recent Iowa Poll, but Biden said that doesn’t mean anything because “it’s just the beginning.”

Before leaving Washington D.C. for Iowa, Trump called the former vice president a “dummy” and said he’d prefer to run against Biden because he is “the weakest mentally.”

Diane Deal of Moravia was at Biden’s event in Ottumwa, and said she thinks Biden is the person who can “put the country back together. She added she saw Biden in Iowa years ago, when he was President Barack Obama’s running mate.

“He actually said hi to me,” Deal said. “I told him I wanted to see him in the White House. And he said, ‘I hope so.’ So again, we hope so.”

Trump finished up his day in Iowa with a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa in West Des Moines. 

Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.
Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter