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Larry Kudlow, the new White House economic adviser, talks to reporters on a day when he also hit CNBC, Fox News and Fox Business. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

"The impact of retaliation by China could drown out the GOP message that tax cuts are delivering prosperity, which the party is counting on to save their majorities in the House and Senate," per Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur.

The bottom line: China's threats of retaliation are scaring farmers in the GOP's rural base and across Trump country, creating a potential drag for Republicans in November's midterms.

Per Bloomberg's Josh Green:

  • "Trump won eight of the 10 states with the largest soybean acreage, all of them in the Midwest."
  • "Many of those same states are now host to some of the country’s closest races for Senate (Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota) and governor (Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota)."

An exception ... The WashPost's Erica Werner writes from Akron that Ohio workers love the tariffs despite their potential effect on statewide politics:

  • "Although few argue that Ohio’s steel production industry can be restored to its glory days, steelworkers here hold out optimism that some idled facilities could be restarted and some jobs brought back."

But there are signs of a pullback, according to the NYT's Ana Swanson and Keith Bradsher. "White House Edges Back From Brink of Trade War: Hints That Tariffs on China May Never Go Into Effect":

  • "It remains unclear whether China will bend to the pressure and make significant changes to its economy — or whether the White House strategy will instead tip the two nations into a trade war that could harm both countries."
  • "Producers of American goods like soybeans, pork, [airplanes,] automobiles and semiconductors depend on access to the Chinese market both for exports and production and say they are fearful about a conflict."

Go deeper

4 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.