ICYMI: Daines Hasn’t “Offered Any Explanation” For Pivot on China [MTPR Campaign Beat] 

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Monday, July 27, 2020

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ICYMI: Daines Hasn’t “Offered Any Explanation” For Pivot on China [MTPR Campaign Beat] 
Helena, MT – On Friday, MTPR’s Campaign Beat discussed Senator Steve Daines’ abrupt flip-flop from a longtime “China Cheerleader” to attempting to appear tough on China in his reelection campaign. The hosts noted that Daines’ new messaging follows GOP consultants’ talking points to attack China, but Daines’ pivot is quite a stretch given his “long history with China” including working for Procter & Gamble, helping that company expand into the market” in China. When asked to explain this head-spinning pivot, the Daines campaign haven’t really offered any explanation or gotten back to reporters.

MTPR Campaign Beat: Montana Candidates Highlight Flip-Flops, Public Lands And China 
By: Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin & Holly Michels


Sally Mauk: Holly, it’s interesting in any campaign season to see what candidates choose to emphasize in their campaign ads and in the Senate race between incumbent Steve Daines and Governor Steve Bullock. Daines ads emphasize how tough he will be on China, who he blames for spreading the coronavirus to the U.S. and for stealing American jobs. But Democrats, Holly, are quick to point out that Daines has a long history of cozying up to China and even lived there for a while when he worked for Procter and Gamble.

Holly Michels: Yeah. Daines is following this, there is a playbook distributed to Republican senators from the National Republican Senatorial Committee in April, sort of guiding Republican senators on how to blame China for the coronavirus and also frame Democrats as being soft against China and saying Republicans won’t be. It’s, for me, what I’m seeing it as is a way for Republicans to avoid having to defend the Trump administration’s own response to the virus. We’ve seen the lack of any sort of plan at the national level. Things like testing capacity have a very real effect here in Montana. And like you said, Sally, Daines is a little more interesting, I think, than some of the other senators to look at, because he does have this long history with China. You know, worked for Procter and Gamble there helping that company expand into the market. As a senator, you know, he also has really pushed for exporting Montana beef to China and has made a handful of official trips to the country as a senator. You know, Daines’ campaign has been asked by reporters to respond to this shift in his rhetoric, but they haven’t really offered any explanation or gotten back to reporters at all with comments. And like we said, Democrats are really seizing on this, calling it a flip flop. Just this week, the Senate Majority PAC, which is spending a lot of money in Montana already, announced seven figure ad buy, attacking Daines, again on China, arguing that he can’t be trusted.

Mauk: Well, here’s a new ad from the Montana Democratic Party critiquing Daines history with China.

Narrator: “The love story between Senator Steve Daines and the Chinese government began in the 1990s. While Daines was helping a big corporation start factories in China, American workers at the company were getting laid off. Then when Daines got to Congress, newspapers called him China’s cheerleader for his pro-China agenda. Chinese officials hailed him as their ambassador in Congress. Daines even praised China for having aggressively worked to contain the coronavirus. Call Senator Daines and tell him, you represent Montana, not China. It’s time to stand up for us.”


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