News

Join the Campaign

6.22.20

Tillis’ “Tough On China” Political Strategy Is Even More Transparent Than It Seemed: He Won’t Read Bolton’s Book That Reveals President Asked China To Help His Reelection

Last week, the Washington Post reported that President Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win reelection in 2020 after obtaining a copy of former national security adviser John Bolton’s memoir. The president went further: “He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.” 

According to the Washington Post, “[t]he request for electoral assistance from Xi is one of many instances described by Bolton in which Trump seeks favors or approval from authoritarian leaders.” 

This is a tough revelation for the Senate GOP members who’ve “worked relentlessly to make China the central factor in virtually all of their races,” including Thom Tillis.

Tillis has already begun to “shrug off” the accounts from the book, saying: “I got a long reading list ahead of me and it’s not going to go to the top of the stack.” His admission that he won’t even read the book proves what we’ve known all along.

If it wasn’t already clear from Mitch McConnell’s marching orders to vulnerable senators like Tillis, or Tillis’ record praising the administration’s approach to China, voters can see now that Tillis’ recent “tough on China” messaging push is no more than that — an election-year gimmick that won’t translate to helping the people of North Carolina in any way. Even Tillis admitted, “there is a political dimension to it.” 

As the Huffington Post noted: Bolton’s revelations show how difficult it might be for the GOP to effectively mount an anti-China message, given that many of the party’s elected officials have long supported liberalizing trade with China and amid the evidence that Trump is as likely to praise the communist nation’s authoritarian leadership as he is to criticize it.”

Read more. 


Washington Post: Trump Asked China’s Xi To Help Him Win Reelection, According To Bolton Book

By Josh Dawsey – June 17, 2020

  • President Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 U.S. election, telling Xi during a summit dinner last year that increased agricultural purchases by Beijing from American farmers would aid his electoral prospects, according to a damning new account of life inside the Trump administration by former national security adviser John Bolton.
  • During a one-on-one meeting at the June 2019 Group of 20 summit in Japan, Xi complained to Trump about China critics in the United States. But Bolton writes in a book scheduled to be released next week that “Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats.
  • “He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes. “He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”
  • At the same meeting, Xi also defended China’s construction of camps housing as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang — and Trump signaled his approval. “According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”
  • The request for electoral assistance from Xi is one of many instances described by Bolton in which Trump seeks favors or approval from authoritarian leaders. Many of those same leaders were also happy to take advantage of the U.S. president and attempt to manipulate him, Bolton writes, often through simplistic appeals to his various obsessions.

Huffington Post: Republicans Running Anti-China Campaigns Shrug Off Trump Seeking China Reelection Help

By Kevin Robillard – June 18, 2020

  • Senate Republicans who have been banking on anti-China messages to help them retain their seats and their party’s chamber majority in the 2020 elections say they aren’t bothered by revelations that President Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win reelection and praised Xi’s plan to imprison his nation’s Uighur Muslims in concentration camps.
  • North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, hoping to fend off a challenge from Democrat Cal Cunningham, said it was unlikely he would read Bolton’s book. “Probably not,” Tillis said.
  • Bolton’s super PAC spent more than $1 million helping Tillis first win election to the Senate in 2014. That was part of the more than $6 million Bolton deployed to help Republicans from 2014 to 2018. 
  • Tillis added that he wasn’t sure if the book’s revelations undercut Trump’s campaign pledges to get tough on China.
  • Senate Republicans have worked relentlessly to make China the central factor in virtually all of their races, with GOP candidates or groups airing ads about the country’s damage to the U.S. economy and bashing its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has pursued a similar strategy in the presidential race, spending millions on ads asserting that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is weak on China.
  • But Bolton’s revelations show how difficult it might be for the GOP to effectively mount an anti-China message, given that many of the party’s elected officials have long supported liberalizing trade with China and amid the evidence that Trump is as likely to praise the communist nation’s authoritarian leadership as he is to criticize it.
  • Republicans are counting on that strategy to maintain a Senate majority, even if Biden defeats Trump. The GOP has a 53-47 edge in the chamber, but that hold appears threatened by the current political math. Democrats are on offense in a number of Senate races, aiming to oust not only Daines in Montana and Tillis in North Carolina, but Republican incumbents in Maine, Iowa, Arizona and Colorado. Republican pick-up opportunities seem limited to Alabama and, to a lesser extent, Michigan.