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Saturday, June 20, 2020
A new story highlights that even though Daines now masquerades as a China critic, he has no thoughts on the recent revelations that President Trump reportedly sought help from the Chinese government in his re-election bid. When asked if he had a reaction to the reports, Daines responded, “I don’t.”
Senate Republicans who have been banking on anti-China messages to help them retain their seats and their party’s chamber majority in the 2020 elections say they aren’t bothered by revelations that President Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win reelection and praised Xi’s plan to imprison his nation’s Uighur Muslims in concentration camps.
The details about Trump’s interactions with the Chinese leader were among the explosive claims in a new book from longtime GOP foreign policy aide John Bolton about his time as the president’s national security adviser. Despite Bolton’s longtime ties to the party ― and his history of endorsing and campaigning for many of their colleagues ― Republican senators treated his book the same way they treat Trump’s tweets, pleading a mix of ignorance and apathy.
“I don’t,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) when asked if he had any reaction to the book. Daines, facing a tough challenge in November from Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), has run multiple ads promising to get tough on China.
Senate Republicans have worked relentlessly to make China the central factor in virtually all of their races, with GOP candidates or groups airing ads about the country’s damage to the U.S. economy and bashing its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has pursued a similar strategy in the presidential race, spending millions on ads asserting that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is weak on China.
But Bolton’s revelations show how difficult it might be for the GOP to effectively mount an anti-China message, given that many of the party’s elected officials have long supported liberalizing trade with China and amid the evidence that Trump is as likely to praise the communist nation’s authoritarian leadership as he is to criticize it.
“Senate Republicans have spent a lot of money on phony TV ads claiming they’ve stood up to China when the record is clear that they haven’t,” said Helen Kalla, a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokeswoman. “With new reports that President Trump was ‘pleading’ with the president of China to help him get re-elected, let’s see what those Republicans are willing to say now. We’re waiting.”
In Montana, Daines has aired multiple ads promising to boost “made in America” manufacturing and blaming China for the spread of COVID-19. “We need to break our reliance on China and bring our jobs home,” Daines says in an ad his campaign began airing Thursday.
Democrats have countered by noting Daines helped Procter and Gamble expand its manufacturing operations in China while working as an executive there in the 1990s, and regularly advocated for closer ties to China before his reelection bid ramped up, taking five official trips to the country during his first term in office.
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