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Democrats in presidential debate hint at no swift end to China tariffs

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Democrats in presidential debate hint at no swift end to China tariffs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential hopefuls criticized President Donald Trump’s trade war with China but gave no hint they would work toward a quick resolution if elected, pledging during their debate on Thursday to hold Beijing accountable for “corrupt” practices.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo/File Photo

None of the top nine Democrats asked about the issue in the debate in Houston said they would move quickly to repeal the wide-ranging tariffs Trump has put in place on Chinese imports, even as they accused the Republican president of “bankrupting” the U.S. economy with damaging tariffs on farmers and businesses.

Instead, the candidates seeking their party’s nomination to take on Trump in the November 2020 election, said they would continue negotiations and make further demands on China, including its handling of protests in Hong Kong, its use of intellectual property, and labor standards.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg mocked Trump for failing so far to strike a deal.

“You know, when I first got into this race, I remember President Trump scoffed and said he’d like to see me making a deal with Xi Jinping. I’d like to see him making a deal with Xi Jinping,” he said to laughter.

He added his own strategy “would include the tariffs as leverage,” without offering specifics.

In a Democratic race that has been dominated by discussions of domestic issues like healthcare, guns and immigration, the party’s third debate featured the most lengthy discussion yet about foreign policy issues like China, troop levels in Afghanistan and relations with Venezuela.

“He has put us in the middle of this trade war and he is treating our farmers and our workers like poker chips in one of his bankrupt casinos,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said.

Trump has made negotiating a deal with China a key goal of his administration after vowing on the campaign trail in 2016 to take on the country. After an escalating exchange of tariffs, Trump said on Thursday that he hoped to reach a comprehensive deal with the world’s second-largest economy.

“Is it just me, or was that supposed to happen in, like, April? It’s one more example of a commitment not made,” former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro said.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang said he would not lift the tariffs immediately if elected president.

“But I would let the Chinese know that we need to hammer out a deal, because right now, the tariffs are pummeling producers and farmers in Iowa who have absolutely nothing to do with

the imbalances that we have with China.”

TRADE DILEMMA

Democrats have struggled to find a message about what they would do differently from Trump on the trade front, restrained by the party’s history of supporting protectionist policies compounded by a shift among liberal voters in favor of free trade.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whose trade agenda appears to be as protectionist as that of Trump, echoed the call for stricter negotiating standards, saying her trade negotiations would have labor unions, small farmers, environmentalists and human rights activists at the table.

Even Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, who has attempted to navigate a fine line between going tough on China and supporting global trade, agreed with Warren on Thursday.

“Senator Warren is correct. At the table has to be

labor and at the table have to be environmentalists,” the former vice president said.

“China – the problem isn’t the trade deficit, the problem is they’re stealing our intellectual property. The problem is they’re violating the WTO. They’re dumping steel on us,” Biden said. “And that’s why you need to organize the world to take on China, to stop the corrupt practices that are under way.”

After news of failed negotiations with the Taliban over a peace deal earlier this week, the Democratic candidates also criticized Trump’s handling of Afghanistan and called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

A draft accord agreed last week would have seen about 5,000 American troops withdrawn over coming months in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on the United States or its allies.

Bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan has been one of Trump’s main foreign policy objectives, and the Republican president said this month his administration was still thinking about a drawdown of the 14,000 U.S. soldiers in the country.

Biden – who spent years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and voted to authorize the war in Afghanistan – said the current conditions in the country would not allow for peace.

“We don’t need those troops there,” Biden said. “I would bring them home.”

The candidates also briefly touched on Venezuela, where Trump has backed unsuccessful efforts to oust socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro through a U.S.-led campaign of sanctions and diplomacy.

Trump frequently calls his Democratic opponents socialists and equates them with leaders like Maduro, warning voters that electing one of rivals will make the nation like Venezuela.

Sanders defended his self-described position as a “democratic socialist,” saying it is was not like the socialism of Venezuela. When asked why he would not call Maduro a dictator, Sanders instead called him a “violent tyrant.”

“In terms of democratic socialism, to equate what goes on in Venezuela with what I believe is extremely unfair,” Sanders said, adding his political philosophy was more in line with that of Canada and Scandinavian countries.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

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Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

WATCH: LIBERAL POLICIES BLAMED FOR WORSENING CALIFORNIA’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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