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Trump Turns Biden Into Top Target at White House Event on China

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 7/15/2020 Magan Crane and Jordan Fabian
Donald Trump standing in front of a flag: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. © Bloomberg U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump used the White House as the backdrop for a lengthy attack on Joe Biden, assailing the Democratic nominee’s record on China and climate change, calling him and his supporters socialists and reviving allegations against Biden’s son Hunter.

“He never did anything except make very bad decisions,” the president said of the Democratic nominee at a Rose Garden event billed as a public announcement of an executive order removing Hong Kong’s special status.

Trump took particular aim at Biden over the Paris Climate Accord, signed by the Obama administration, as a “gift to China” on the same day that the former vice president unveiled a sweeping plan to reduce carbon emissions and create jobs in a clean-energy economy.

“It would’ve crushed American manufacturers while allowing China to pollute the atmosphere with impunity,” Trump said. “His entire career has been a gift to the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.

Trump and Biden have sparred over China repeatedly since Biden secured the nomination, with each saying the other had been weak in countering President Xi Jinping’s aggressive behavior.

Trump’s official statement on the executive order quickly veered into a rambling campaign rally-style event in which he aired his now-familiar list of grievances about Democrats in Congress, illegal immigration, Nafta and other policies he says he fixed in his first term.

Earlier: Trump Pivots to Self-Pity With Polls Sinking, Pandemic Worsening

Biden’s campaign responded while Trump was still speaking.

“Donald Trump is busy trying to rewrite his miserable history as president of caving to President Xi and the Chinese government at every turn, but try as he may, Trump can’t hide from a record of weakness and bad deals that consistently put China first and America last,” the campaign said in a statement.

“At every step of the way, Trump has failed America: He failed our values when he endorsed the Chinese government’s repression of basic human rights and crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, he failed our workers with a bad trade deal, and he failed the American people when he refused to hold the Chinese government accountable for their misleading and incompetent response on Covid-19.”

Later, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said in a statement that “what we heard in the Rose Garden today wasn’t a president at all. It was a politician who sees his re-election slipping away from him and who is furious that his own botched response to the coronavirus pandemic has denied him the campaign events he so craves.”

Trump is trailing Biden in polls nationally and in key states four months before the election. A Dallas Morning News poll last weekend showed Biden up 5 percentage points in reliably Republican Texas.

Trump has held only one rally, in Tulsa, since the coronavirus pandemic began. He canceled an event scheduled for last weekend, citing weather concerns. He used the White House event to touch on themes he often develops at his rallies.

It has long been considered improper for a president to use the official residence for a political event. But Trump stood in the Rose Garden and, for almost an hour, read through several Democratic positions and criticized them one by one.

“Last week, Joe Biden released his unity platform developed with socialist Bernie Sanders describing what he would do if elected president. The Biden-Sanders agenda is the most extreme platform of any major party nominee by far in American history. I think it’s worse than actually Bernie’s platform,” he said.

Biden is developing his own policy plans separate from the report Trump cited, which was issued by a Sanders-Biden task force that the Democrats set up to give progressives a voice after Sanders dropped out of the primary contests.

Trump noted that Democrats want to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and “seek an even higher level of restrictions,” he said. “I hope you don’t mind cold office space in the winter and warm office space in the summer,” he mocked, in a tone usually reserved for his signature rallies.

“Mandate net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Trump said, appearing to read from Biden’s plan. “He wants no oil or gas. I don’t think Texas is going to do too well. Texas would lose 7 million jobs under the Biden plan.”

Trump incorrectly said Biden put Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive lawmaker from New York who champions the Green New Deal, in charge of his energy plan.

“Joe Biden put AOC, a young woman not talented in many ways, in charge of his energy plan,” Trump said. “He wants to impose the Green New Deal on our country. When I first saw the Green New Deal I thought it was a joke. This will destroy our country and make us non-competitive with other countries.”

Biden has steered clear of the Green New Deal saying it would be too costly.

Trump also renewed his attacks on Hunter Biden, who became a focus of the White House’s fight against impeachment charges because of his work on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, while Biden was vice president.

“Hunter went from not having a job to $83,000 a month to work for Burisma,” Trump said.

(Updates with new Biden campaign response, starting in 10th paragraph)

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