Trump’s feud with much of the Republican establishment rapidly is coming to a head. When it comes to trade, the candidate is increasingly railing against business groups and members of his own party.
On Thursday, the divide deepened when Trump called out the Chamber of Commerce by name for the second day in a row. He went after the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, two major trade deals which were overwhelmingly supported by Republicans.
“I’m messing with bad deals that we could make good,” Trump said as he was speaking at a closed manufacturing plant in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Trump went on to state:
“[T]he U.S. Chamber fights [with Trump]. They said, ‘Oh, Trump wants to stop free trade.’ I don’t want to stop free trade. I love free trade, but I want to make great deals.”
Trump’s comments were the latest in a flurry of insults throughout the past week which he hurled at advocates of large trade agreements. These are the very same deals that have been championed and pushed by Republicans for decades as critical tools for capitalism. Trump went so far as to accuse the backers of TPP of wanting to “rape” the U.S.
Trump’s feuds with big business interests and the establishment make him attractive to working class workers who feel disenfranchised. However, the disputes come at great risk as they could – and seem to already have – alienated many of the party’s wealthy donors and backers. This is particularly concerning since Trump has only recently started to develop a fundraising mechanism. With many big donors shying away, and his small donor program still nonexistent, he is sinking deeper in a fundraising hole against a Clinton machine that has had all of its ducks in a row for more than a year.
“While we never endorse in the presidential race, we do plan to be aggressive in presidential policy with both nominees,” said Scott Reed, the senior political strategist at the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber was quick to attack Trump on Twitter as Trump delivered a speech threatening to rip up trade agreements.
Trump’s escalating attacks on trade deals not only threatens his support from the Republican establishment, large donors, and business leaders, but it also has opened him up to attacks by Democrats. The Dems can deliver stinging attacks calling Trump out on his hypocrisy as in the past, he has talked favorably about outsourcing jobs overseas, and himself has actually done so.
Trump continues to claim that all groups will support him. He claims that his tax plans will counterbalance any backlash his trade policies will have from businesses.
On Thursday, Trump said:
“We will do things that are going to be so miraculous – and it’ll be fast. It won’t take a long period of time,”
At the same time, his detractors feel that it’ll be miraculous if he actually accomplishes anything that he is claiming.