PEOSTA, Iowa -- President Trump visited Iowa on Thursday in the middle of trade war that's hurting Iowa farmers and families, but that wasn't what he came to talk about.
President Trump was joined by his daughter and adviser, Ivanka, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to discuss the President's executive order encouraging more job training programs in the US. Iowa is the first state the President has visited to discuss job training since signing the order. President Trump was welcomed to Iowa by Congressman Rod Blum and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. The group toured Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) then hosted a round table discussion about job training.
Air Force One touched down in Dubuque around 10:40am. Governor Kim Reynolds and Acting Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg met the President on the tarmac then traveled with them to nearby NICC in Peosta. There they learned about the school's job training programs that are encouraging teens to seek apprenticeships and re-training adults who are looking for new opportunities in the workforce.
At a round table discussion after the tour President Trump touched on a number of topics of importance in Iowa.
He began with a promise that his administration is closer to approving year-round sales of E-15 fuel. That would be welcome news for Iowa's renewable fuel industry. Former Trump EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt approved multiple waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard for refineries before he left the administration. Those waivers in effect cancelled billions of gallons of biofuels that Iowa refineries planned to produce. President Trump said an announcement would come "soon" but didn't give a specific date.
President Trump did briefly touch on the ongoing trade war with China. A tariff on soybean imports imposed by China has caused cancelled orders that could cost Iowa farmers billions. This week President Trump approved a $12 billion aid package for American farmers impacted by tariffs during the trade war. The move was nearly universally opposed by Iowa Republican leaders, including Governor Reynolds. She says farmers need their trade deals back, not government aid.
President Trump didn't mention the aid payments, but he did defend his actions in the trade war. He says he didn't start it, he is only seeking to level the playing field he inherited. "When you have a country that's charging you 50% tariffs and you're charging them nothing, and then I raise it to 50% and we have politicians in Washington that say 'we are stopping free trade' ... no, no ... they stopped it when they put in the 50%", he told the crowd.
President Trump did not address the agricultural bailouts and neither did Governor Reynolds, publicly. Her office said she did discuss the hardships Iowans are facing due to Chinese tariffs with the President.
Reynolds' opponent in November's election, Democrat Fred Hubbell, took to Twitter before President Trump arrived and said the President isn't listening. Hubbell tweeted that "Trump started this (trade war) and (Governor Kim Reynolds) has failed to stand up to him. If she won't tell him to end the trade war, I will."
President Trump also met with Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer. Marshalltown was hit by an EF3 tornado one week ago. The city could be declared a federal disaster area.