President Donald Trump’s talks trade, politics and job training in Iowa

Pres. Trump visited community leaders in eastern Iowa in Dubuque on Thursday. Des Moines Register

PEOSTA, Ia.— President Donald Trump displayed John-Deere-green hats bearing the slogan “Make Farmers Great Again” during his visit to Peosta Thursday, telling Iowa farmers they won’t be “too angry with Trump” following an apparent trade agreement with European leaders.

His trip to Northeast Iowa Community College just outside of Dubuque ostensibly was to discuss workforce development issues at a forum with business leaders and Iowans who have benefited from skilled-worker programs.

But it also allowed Trump to talk up Iowa Republicans facing tough elections, relive for a moment his 2016 Iowa victory, and discuss his plan to address tariffs, which have left Iowa farmers jittery.

“I have to say, because we have a lot of farmers in this place, we had this hat made up. Look at that,” he said, holding up the green caps that shared their hue with the iconic farm equipment company. He then ripped into what he called “the worst (trade deals) ever made by any country in history.”

“It’s not nice what they’re doing,” he said of countries like China.

Trump boasted of his verbal agreement with leaders of the European Union, (“we’re starting the documents,” Trump said as an aside), that would move toward the elimination of trade barriers.

“We just opened up Europe for you farmers,” he said. “You’re not going to be too angry with Trump, I can tell you.”

He continued: “I said to the Europeans, I said, ‘Do me a favor. Would you go out to the farms in Iowa and all the different places in the Midwest? Will you buy a lot of soybeans right now?’ Because what, that whole soybean thing is now going to be opened up. No tariffs. No nothing. Free trade.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who participated in the forum, told reporters after the event that the conversations about opening up European markets are “hopefully a positive step.”

“China has been a bad actor,” she said. “We need to hold them accountable. (But) it can’t be on the backs of our farmers.”

Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, though, thanked Trump for enacting tariffs and renegotiating trade.

“Thank you for having political courage to renegotiate these trade deals, which quite frankly are not good to the United States,” he said to Trump. “And you’ve taken some heat for it in the short term, but in the long run, the farmers, the manufacturers, the employers are all going to be better off.”

Trump effusively praised Iowa and its leaders throughout the event.

“There’s no place doing better than Iowa,” he said. “I mean, there’s no place with better leadership. There’s no place with more advanced thought.”

He also offered prayers for the victims and communities hit by devastating tornadoes last week.

“I love this place. It’s been a very special place to me, and you know, whatever we can do we’re doing,” Trump said. “We have a lot of federal people out here, some incredible people. And they were all working with your representatives and I know they’re doing the best they can. But I will tell you that’s a terrible event. It’s tragic. The power — the power of nature. People have no idea.”

The White House invited the mayors of Pella, Marshalltown and Bondurant. Those Iowa towns were hit by tornadoes last week.

The mayors didn’t have much time to talk to the president.

“The president did ask me, ‘How’s it going?’ and I reflexively said, ‘Fine,’ but caught myself and said, ‘But we still need help,’” Greer said.

Marshalltown is hoping for a federal disaster declaration that could bring aid to the town. Greer said he was not able to bring up the topic with Trump’s staff at the airport, so he’ll have to go through the regular channels.

But he said it was still worth it to make the trip to speak with Reynolds, who he said has been “a blessing to Marshalltown” for the attention she’s given to the city.

Political perks

The trip also gave Trump a chance to boost fellow Republicans Reynolds and Blum, who both are facing competitive elections in November.

Trump praised Blum, giving him credit for securing $117 million in federal funds to support flood mitigation efforts in…

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