Apr 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Democrats lay out rebuttal to Trump attacks on Biden over China

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

In the coming weeks and months, Democrats plan to argue that President Trump "rolled over" for China as the coronavirus crisis worsened because "he sought a deal to begin undoing the damage caused by his trade policies," per a new memo reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: Top Trump campaign officials said they'll paint Joe Biden as "soft" on China as a major line of attack during the 2020 race. The new memo by Democratic National Committee officials outlines a rebuttal as Biden prepares for the general election race against Trump.

  • This new memo is the sixth in a series called "In Focus: Trump’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response."

Trump's campaign this month released a controversial digital ad bashing Biden as overly friendly and deferential to Beijing.

  • The president's team has sought to turn a critical focus on the former vice president's past posture toward China to counter criticism of Trump's handling of the coronavirus or approaches to China.

What they're saying: The DNC's War Room writes in the memo that it's an understatement to call Trump weak on China and that he "rolled over in a way that has been catastrophic for our country" and "put himself and his political fortunes first."

  • The memo quotes a NYT article describing internal disputes in the administration over dealing with China, trade talks and the virus.
  • It also cites Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and economic adviser Larry Kudlow talking about how the coronavirus might interfere with trade negotiations.

The other side: "They are only doing this because Joe Biden has a big China problem," Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told Axios in an email.

  • "Democrats wailed endlessly about Trump's tough tactics on China, so it's a joke that they would now try to paint him as soft."
  • "Joe Biden called the President's travel restrictions on China 'xenophobic' and 'reactionary.' All this memo does is prove that Joe Biden and his Democrat allies are not serious people."
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