But this criticism hasn’t been that statewide specific. And considering that Trump’s strategy in 2016 was to flip Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, with him looking at the same strategy again this year, the Democratic National Committee is going on the offensive.
In an ad that will be released into the Pittsburgh market today, June 24, the DNC criticizes Trump and a “trade war that he started” and the negative impacts they have had on Pennsylvania farmers, steelworkers, and the manufacturing industry.
The ad calls out Trump for claiming that he would “get tough on China” but notes that instead “he got played,” while using images of Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It cites a 2018 PennLive report that interviews several Pennsylvania farmers that have decried Trump’s tariffs and how they have hurt their industry, including soybean farmers.
U.S. soybean exports to China have been down considerably over the last couple of years.
With the ad playing in Pittsburgh, steelworkers are also a point of contention. The ad quotes a Los Angeles Times story, which was originally published by Bloomberg, which highlights the sagging profits of steel companies like Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel. In July 2019, U.S. Steel’s market value dropped $5.5 billion thanks to Trump’s tariffs. Even Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has decried the steel tariffs, saying that “arbitrary taxes” can “distort prices, disrupt supply chains, destroy jobs, and increase prices for consumers.”
“Trump said he’d get tough on China, but he didn’t. Trump clamored for a trade war with China and said that it would be easy to win, but he lost,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez in a statement to Pittsburgh City Paper. “And Trump’s go-it-alone tariffs inflicted pain on Pennsylvania workers, not China. Instead of forcing China to the table to negotiate a trade deal that protected us, China smelled Trump’s desperation and played him like a cheap guitar.”
Trump has defended his record on trade and he believes the trade disputes are going well. He told reporters last year, "Somebody had to do this with China because they are taking hundreds of billions of dollars a year out of the United States and somebody had to make a stand."
Furthermore, the ad criticizes Trump for manufacturing being in a recession. Trump campaigned in 2016 on bringing manufacturing jobs back to Pennsylvania, but the Pittsburgh region has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs since he took office. Manufacturing employment in the Pittsburgh region is now at the lowest level in modern history.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden approved of the ad, which is part of a DNC push highlighting Trump on trade and China. This push will also include a virtual event later today in Pennsylvania with Perez, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and PA Dem chair Nancy Patton Mills.