CNN’s Dana Bash pushed Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst to attack President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, but Ernst didn’t exactly play along.
Bash began the segment by bringing up the trade war and the $16 billion in aid that Trump promised to farmers in the past week.
“You have been saying that you speak to your farmers, they are overwhelmed right now,” Bash said. “But you also have said we do need a deal with China. At what point are you willing to say, times up, Mr. President, remove these tariffs, help my farmers?”
“The tariffs are hurtful right now,” Ernst agreed, but added that she and the farmers she had spoken to understand that tariffs are a temporary pain that could bring about much-needed change and a better deal with China. “But to put it best, I think it came from a farmer in Iowa after one of our farmer round tables. He stood up and said, ‘I get why the president is doing this, what I don’t get is why we don’t have a president who didn’t stand up for us before this.'”
“How much time does the president have?” Bash pressed again.
“Yeah. That is difficult because every farmer will have different circumstances,” Ersnt continued, stopping short of turning on the president. (RELATED: Despite Tariffs, Farmers Still Support Trump)
Bash pushed one more time, asking, “What do you think the answer is?”
“At what point do you say national security, the interests of our country, that’s enough?” Ernst shot back. “I think the president and our trade rep. understand those negotiations. The president has asked those farmers to hang on just a little bit longer. It is hurting in the midwest. It’s hurting all over the country with the tariffs, but at the same time, we do have to get China to the table. We have to stop them from stealing intellectual property. We have to stop them from forced technology transfers. All of that is detrimental not only to our economy but to our national security.”
The $16 billion Trump promised in aid this past week marks the second time his administration has offered aid to farmers to offset retaliatory tariffs imposed by China — he authorized a similar $12 billion aid package in 2018.