Editors Note: A clarification has been sent to the Daily by Thomas Parks, communications manager for the Corn Refiners Association (CRA). President Trump was referring to the CRA and more than 950 other food and agriculture groups who wrote to call on Congress to support the ratification of USMCA when he said nearly 1000 groups endorsed the plan.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump made his fourth visit to Iowa as president. Trump toured the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy plant in Council Bluffs, spoke to employees, and other attendees in a rally-style event there. The president then delivered remarks at a Republican Party dinner in West Des Moines — neither event was without controversy.
Trump toured the plant alongside Iowa elected officials, cabinet officials, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and several other Nebraska elected officials. Trump signed an executive order on “modernizing the regulatory framework for agricultural biotechnology products.”
Trump was introduced to employees at the plant by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, whom he kissed on the cheek after walking to his podium to the song “God Bless the U.S.A.”
“Thank you very much Iowa, we love Iowa, thank you very much,” Trump said in opening his remarks.
Trump thanked Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and said he was “delighted” to be there with farmers, growers and workers.
“We celebrate the bright future that we are forging together powered by clean, affordable American ethanol,” Trump said.
Trump urged people to “press” congressional leaders to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The agreement essentially replaces NAFTA, with some adjustments on free trade, especially in the automobile sector.
The president claimed “nearly 1000” farm groups endorsed the plan this morning. It was unclear what groups Trump was referring to — though in May, 68 food and agriculture groups sent a joint letter to Congress urging them to ratify the agreement.
Trump mentioned a potential 2020 opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, several times in Council Bluffs.
“America must never again be held hostage to foreign suppliers of energy as we were under the Obama-Biden — sleepy Joe; group, sleepy Joe,” Trump said. “He was some place in Iowa today, and he said my name so many times that people couldn’t stand it anymore.”
The U.S. was between 86 and 91% self-sufficient in energy production in 2016 under then-President Barack Obama, according to government data. The same government agency found under Trump in 2017 the U.S. was about 90% self-sufficient in energy production.
Trump then traveled to West Des Moines to speak at the “America First Dinner” hosted by the Republican Party of Iowa at the Ron Pearson Center.
The president’s motorcade was greeted by both protesters and supporters in West Des Moines. Outside the center where the dinner was to take place, several protesters from Bold Iowa, a climate change awareness group, stood wearing diapers and holding a sign saying “Climate denier in the White House scare the S#*T outta you? IT DOES US!”
The diaper-clad protesters blocked the entrance to the center and, after declining to move, were arrested by West Des Moines police.
One of the protesters said they were cited for trespassing for trying to enter the venue without tickets.
The Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, the Iowa Senate Majority leader, Reynolds, and Rep. Steve King all attended the dinner. Trump called out to several Iowa Republicans in attendance, including the Chairman of the state party, Jeff Kaufmann, though did not mention King.
Trump then delivered a free-wheeling address to Iowa Republicans, musing whether to keep his campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again” versus replacing it with “Keep America Great” for 2020, the efficacy of political opinion polls, George Stephanopoulos, the “estate tax,” trade with China and various other topics.