President Trump basked in the glory of his opponent Joe Biden essentially handing him a win earlier on CNN by admitting that NAFTA was “a mistake.”
Trump told Michiganders during a campaign rally Thursday that the Democratic nominee devoted his career to “offshoring Michigan’s jobs, outsourcing Michigan’s factories, throwing open your borders, dragging us into endless foreign wars, and surrendering our children’s future to China.”
“Yesterday, Joe Biden was here in Michigan lying about his lifetime of cold-hearted globalist betrayals,” Trump said, citing the former vice president’s support of NAFTA.
Speaking to a crowd in Freeland, Mich., Trump pointed to the Biden interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
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Tapper asked Biden which was better: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, Trump’s revamp of the previous agreement. The former vice president conceded that the USMCA is “better than NAFTA.”
“Doesn’t he deserve some credit for that?” Tapper asked. “It’s better, USMCA is better than NAFTA.”
“It is better than NAFTA,” Biden said. “But look at what the overall trade policy has been, even with NAFTA? We now have this gigantic deficit in trade with Mexico. Not because NAFTA wasn’t made better, because overall trade policy and how he deals with it made everything worse.”
Biden said he didn’t renegotiate the deal because there was a Republican Congress at the time that wouldn’t go along with it.
“He said he made a mistake, he doesn’t know what’s going on. They were a little surprised to hear that they gave him a few chances,” Trump said.
“I have the distinct pleasure of running against the worst presidential candidate in presidential politics,” Trump continued. “Can you imagine if I lost to him? I’d have to say I lost to the worst candidate ever put up. Don’t do that to me, Michigan.”
“You better vote for me, Michigan, I gave you so many auto plants,” he said.
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On Wednesday in Michigan, Biden also declared NAFTA a “mistake,” despite the fact he voted for the Clinton-era trade agreement. The Democratic nominee was asked by Fox 2 in Detroit about Trump declaring NAFTA a failure.
“What I say to that is, number one, the Bush administration did not keep its commitment on NAFTA, number one, and it was a mistake, number one,” he said, before attacking Trump’s claims that he brought manufacturing jobs to Michigan.
Biden visited Michigan Wednesday for the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic, one day before Trump. He held a campaign event for roughly one-dozen socially distant attendees.
“Joe Biden supported NAFTA, perhaps the worst trade deal in history. Biden supported China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. At every opportunity, Joe Biden twisted his blade into the heart of Michigan Workers,” Trump continued.
“At every opportunity, Joe Biden twisted his blade into the heart of Michigan Workers. The only thing Joe Biden should be doing in Michigan is begging you to forgive him,” he said.
Trump faced renewed pushback from officials worried that his rallies are growing in size and flouting public health guidelines intended to halt the COVID-19 spread. This week, the state of Nevada became the first to scuttle his plans for rallies initially set for Las Vegas and Reno. Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also raised alarms about Thursday’s event.
In Michigan, Whitmer did not try to scuttle the rally, but warned that such events “threaten all that sacrifice that we’ve made.”
“If the rallies are like those he’s held in recent days in other states, with lots of people close together without masks on projecting their voices, I’m concerned about it,” she said at a news conference Thursday morning.
“This is not a partisan observation. We are in a public health crisis. We all want to get out of this public health crisis. It’s going to take every one of us doing the right things to get out of it together, to make this as short as possible,” she continued.
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Trump hit back at Whitmer. “It’d be better if you had a governor who knew what the hell she was doing,” he told the crowd.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.