President Trump is ending his re-election campaign in rural America on the same issues that boosted him in 2016: Promises of tax cuts, fewer federal regulations, and support for corn ethanol. In addition, farmers are wealthy from $23 billion in trade-war payments, said Trump in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sunday; “That’s why you’re all here and you’re all happy.”
Rural Americans voted 2-to-1 for Trump in 2016, key to his election. Trump is enduringly popular with rural voters. Some polls suggest a bit of erosion from four years ago. Democratic nominee Joe Biden hopes to narrow the margin so that Democrats can win in statewide tallies. While Republicans describe Trump as an ethanol advocate, Democrats say the administration let Big Oil evade the ethanol mandate by exempting oil refineries from it repeatedly.
“As president, I kept my promise. And I protected ethanol, and I approved E15 for year-round use. You don’t know what that means. That’s a lot,” said Trump in Dubuque. “Authorized its use on existing pumps. Also that doesn’t mean a lot to you. It means a lot to the ethanol people.”
Trump said that during a second term, “[W]e will continue to cut your taxes, cut regulations, and ensure that more products are made and grown in the USA.” Economic recovery from the pandemic would be a “super V-” shaped rebound.
The rally at the Dubuque airport on a windy, chilly afternoon, was part of an airborne equivalent of whistle-stop campaigning by rail. Trump scheduled stops in the battleground states of Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida over a 17-hour stretch that started in Washington on Sunday morning and ended in Miami at nearly 1 a.m. ET on Monday.
In its own way, Dubuque was a three-state stop; the Wisconsin and Illinois border is across the Mississippi River from the small, industrial city. Trump saluted Wisconsin voters during his 68-minute speech and one of the three House candidates he called on stage was Esther Joy King, running in an Illinois district against Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos, a House Agriculture Committee member.
“There is not a finer president and one who has done more for our farmers and ranchers and biofuel producers,” said Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst. The copyright Iowa Poll said Ernst leads Democrat Theresa Greenfield, 46-42. It was the first time Ernst led in the poll this year. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the poll, told the Des Moines Register that “the Trump core” of supporters — rural Iowans, white evangelicals, and white men without a college degree — is coming to her [Ernst].”
Biden says in his campaign platform that he will “promote ethanol and the next generation of biofuels.” Development of cellulosic ethanol, distilled from crop debris, grasses, and woody plants, would put cleaner-burning fuels on the market while helping to mitigate climate change, says his campaign platform.
Direct federal payments to farmers are forecast to exceed $40 billion this year, chiefly through pandemic relief payments and Paycheck Protection Program loans. None of the stopgap programs was created to run into 2021.
“None of us should be planning on the unprecedented level of ad hoc program funds to continue into 2021 and beyond,” wrote economists Brent Gloy and David Widmar in a recent blog. On the other hand, don’t overlook the support provided by traditional farm-bill programs. The relevant question is: What are the farm policy programs — or types of programs — Congress and the White House will be looking at to craft into the next farm bill?”
In Dubuque, Trump referred to the trade-war payments, which concluded early this year, and asked rhetorically, “Did anybody get a bad deal? Did anybody, because you’re all wealthy … That’s why you’re all here and that’s why you’re all happy and no other president would have done that.”
To watch a C-SPAN video of the rally, click here.