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SNAPSHOT: Biden, Trade, and Iowa

Polls this summer show former Vice President Joe Biden leading a crowded field of Democrats. But a piece in The Atlantic by Peter Beinart (Craig Newmark School of Journalism) suggests that in order to win Iowa, Biden must “do something Democratic presidential candidates haven’t done in many years: forcefully defend free trade.”

Beinart’s analysis suggests that the issue could be especially helpful to Biden in gaining support for the Iowa caucuses, scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020. Opposition to President Trump’s trade policies “helped Democrats flip two Republican congressional seats last fall” in Iowa because of the trade wars’ negative impact on soybean and pork producers there, Beinart reports. More recently, a Pew Research Center poll showed the vast majority of Democrats oppose President Trump’s tariffs and view free trade as a good thing.

But what are Biden’s views on the issue? Beinart notes that Biden supported free trade deals in the past, but in this campaign, he’s “ducked questions about whether he would repeal Trump’s tariffs.” If Biden were to declare opposition to the trade war, it would also offer another opportunity for him to contrast his views with those of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They support “trade barriers in general,” Beinart says, even though they “have criticized the way Trump has implemented his trade policies.”