WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday escalated his efforts to make China a central theme of the U.S. presidential race, accusing Democratic rival Joe Biden of being a “globalist sellout” who helped engineer the widespread loss of American jobs.
“Joe Biden’s agenda is made in China. My agenda is made in the U.S.A,” Trump said while speaking to thousands of supporters at an outdoor campaign rally at the airport in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
China has emerged as a flashpoint ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with Trump repeatedly accusing Biden of long supporting trade policies that led to the offshoring of domestic jobs.
“Biden is a globalist sellout who spent his career laying waste to American communities,” said Trump, who trails his opponent in national opinion polls.
Biden in turn has criticized Trump for punishing U.S. farmers and other industries with harmful tariffs on Chinese goods.
The former vice president has also blasted Trump’s trade deal with China as not delivering the benefits to U.S. industries the president promised, saying last month it was “failing – badly.”
North Carolina is a key swing state prized by both the Biden and Trump campaigns, one of a handful of states that could determine the election. It is also one of many states that have seen its manufacturing and textile industries migrate to China and other Asian nations over the past 25 years.
The visit on Tuesday marked Trump’s second in less than a week, as Trump has stepped up campaign travel with less than two months to go to the election.
The president’s campaign has also accused Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, of opposing his administration’s efforts to fast-track a vaccine for the coronavirus, which he said was coming “very, very soon.”
“They’re trying to disparage it,” Trump said. “They’re trying to make it politics.”
Biden has charged that Trump is himself politicizing the issue to help his re-election, saying on Monday that with the president’s history of misstatements regarding the pandemic, which has killed more than 186,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs, his assurances about the safety of such a vaccine could not be trusted.
Prior to the Trump rally, Biden’s campaign called for any vaccine to be produced and distributed following established scientific standards without outside political interference.
At the rally, Trump also stepped up his criticism of Harris, the first Black woman and first Asian-American on a major-party U.S. presidential ticket, in language he has used to describe other women candidates.
“Nobody likes her. She could never be the first woman president,” Trump said. “That would be an insult to our country.”
The Biden campaign declined a request for comment on Trump’s remarks. Biden held no formal campaign events on Tuesday but will give remarks in Warren, Michigan, on Wednesday concerning U.S. manufacturing jobs.
Reporting by Jeff Mason in North Carolina; Writing by James Oliphant; Editing by Peter Cooney
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