Trump hits DeSantis in Nevada, DeSantis hits China

Today is Monday, July 10. President Joe Biden is overseas, the Senate is back in session and Iowa Republicans are heading back to Des Moines to consider a restrictive abortion ban.

Weekend Catch Up

  • A Wisconsin judge has ruled that a legal challenge to the Badger State's 1849 abortion ban can continue.
  • A top Missouri Democrat, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, has launched her historic gubernatorial bid.
  • And MARK YOU CALENDARS for Jan. 15, 2024: We have an official date for the first presidential nominating contest — the Iowa Caucuses. It will take place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That means the New Hampshire primary will likely be Jan. 23.

DeSantis claims he would shake up Chinese trade designation if elected

In a Sunday interview with Fox News, Florida governor and GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said he would terminate an agreement passed by Congress in 2000 that formalized new trade relations between China and the United States. The agreement, which occurred following China’s introduction to the World Trade Organization, granted the country a “most favored nation” designation. This classification allows for low tariffs on Chinese goods and reduces the amount of barriers their imports have concerning domestic, American markets.

DeSantis, in his conversation with host Maria Bartiromo, suggested the Biden administration has failed to amply flex its muscles against the U.S.’s most competitive global rival. Such comments were in response to the U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's recent, four-day trip to Beijing that concluded this past weekend. Yellen stated she thought, despite tensions, “the world is big enough for both of our countries to thrive."

"This idea of the happy talk that you hear from Yellen, ‘Oh, we’re just — it’s a healthy competition.’ No, they’re the number one geopolitical threat this country faces, and what we’re going to do is, we’re going to have a new commitment to hard power in the Indo-Pacific," DeSantis countered.

"At the end of the day, what China respects is strength. And if you’re showing strength, and we have hard power to back it up, they’re going to be much less aggressive," he added. "And my fear is, under Biden, his weakness is really inviting China to do more, not just in their own theater. We see them doing more in our own hemisphere here in the West."

This is not the first time that conservatives have proposed using political brinkmanship to disrupt China’s legal standing concerning trade. In January, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR),  Rick Scott (R-FL), Ted Budd (R-NC) and J.D. Vance (R-OH) authored a bill that would accomplish the same goal DeSantis proposed by making “human rights and trade abuses as disqualifying factors for MFN status.” As of now, no meaningful action has been taken on the legislation.

“There is no reason why the United States should be helping a communist government’s trade operation through preferential treatment and ‘most-favored-nation’ status. That is absolutely absurd when they are working against us. It is time to put American interests first, not the CCP, and reverse this antiquated law,” Scott said in a January press statement.

Trump assails DeSantis in Nevada

Over the weekend, former President Donald Trump held a rally in Nevada, a critical state in both the Republican presidential primary and the 2024 general election. A crowd of about 500 people — with another 400 surrounding the venue — gathered at a large church in Las Vegas to hear Trump engage in his usual antics. Mispronunciations, election denial, calls for more fossil fuel and stricter voting ID laws, embellished statistics and claims that Democrats support open borders were abound.

Trump, who is the clear frontrunner for the GOP nomination, also took shots at his main rival in the race: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Recalling how DeSantis asked for his endorsement during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Trump stated that he “said, listen Ron, you’re so dead that if Abraham Lincoln and George Washington came back from the dead, and if they put their hands and hearts together and prayed … nothing is going to change. Ron, you are gone.” Trump also clarified that he was “not a big fan” and considered the often-praised DeSantis to be “highly overrated.”

Trump — who has garnered 71 different felony counts across two cases since leaving office — then turned to Biden, who he inaccurately asserted had taken millions, if not billions, in bribes from China and Ukraine.

While it appears he is leagues ahead of DeSantis in the primary, recent polling data suggests Biden would beat Trump in Nevada by four percentage points

The Look Ahead: What to Follow This Week

  • A special legislative session in Iowa will begin on Tuesday as lawmakers consider a six-week abortion ban .
  • President Joe Biden is headed to Lithuania for a critical NATO summit, first making a stop in the United Kingdom.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) outlined the Senate work schedule in a Dear Colleague letter this morning. Topics include: AI, appropriations, the National Defense Authorization Act, judicial confirmations, railroad safety and prescription medication prices.

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Jamie Larson