Though rural voters usually lean Republican, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would make a better president for American farmers, according to one White House official.
U.S. Secretary of Agricuture Tom Vilsack believes that Clinton can win votes from farmers because Republican nominee Donad Trump’s “notion of this country is not what I hear in rural areas,” and further, “she listens,” Vilsack told David Axelrod on CNN’s “Axe Files” podcast Monday.
“[Trump’s] notion of division is not what I hear from a lot of good people in these towns,” Vilsack said.
In the conversation, recorded during the Democrat National Convention, Axelrod and Vilsack discussed the challenges of campaigning in what Axelrod called the “deeply red” rural community.
First, Democrats need to start a conversation with farmers that begins with “thanks for what you do for us,” Vilsack said.
“The food we eat, the water we drink, the energy we use, and a significant percentage military we rely on comes from rural America,” Vilsack said, “and those folks in those rural communities do not believe that there is a recognition or appreciation on the part of Democrats for that contribution to our country.”
Vilsack said rural voters only think of government in terms of regulations, not in terms of what government does for them. “We have to remind them of what government means, and what government does.”
Democrats “don’t market what we do,” Vilsack said. He pointed to government home loans, water treatment facilities and broadband access as examples of the resources government provides to rural areas.
Because Trump is so alienating, Vilsack says Democrats have an opportunity to contrast Clinton and the Republican candidate. “We’re in a position to say she listens. He doesn’t listen, he listens to himself.”
Vilsack, who became agriculture secretary the day after President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, supported Clinton in the primary in the 2008 presidential primary, when Obama won the Democratic nomination.
Trump is expected to release his agriculture policies soon. Sid Miller, Texas agricultural commissioner and one of Trump’s agriculture advisors, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that “Trump will be great for agriculture. We will have less regulation, we will have good supreme court justices and we will make better deals.”
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