Dragging out a China trade deal would not help Trump in 2020, says VP’s chief of staff

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, on Tuesday disputed the notion that President Donald Trump would benefit in the 2020 election by not cutting a trade deal with China.

Short was addressing a question about whether dragging out the China-bashing into next year would fire up the Trump-Pence base.

“I don’t view it that way,” said Short, who signed on with Pence in February, less than a year after stepping down as director of White House legislative affairs. “A trade deal with China would boost market significantly.”

“It would benefit the president politically” and probably give him “more of a lift heading into 2020,” argued Short, appearing on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Tuesday.

Trump told reporters Tuesday morning that U.S.-China trade talks are going well, but he added there will be a “great deal” with China or no deal.

Earlier Tuesday on Twitter, Trump ripped China, claiming it’s not buying more U.S. agricultural products as it had promised and it may be slow-walking trade talks to see how 2020 presidential election turns out.

The president’s criticism came as a U.S. delegation, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, was in Shanghai to meet with Chinese officials this week.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, at the end of last month, agreed to a tariff truce and to restart trade talks.

Back in May, after trade talks broke down, Trump increased tariff rates on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%, while threatening duties on the rest of China’s imports to the U.S.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told CNBC in May that he believes the China issue will frame the 2020 presidential campaign in favor of Trump.

“This is history in real time. This is the most significant thing that any president can possibly do,” Bannon said, adding that Trump won’t bow to the pressure and make a superficial agreement that doesn’t address all the ways Beijing is cheating economically.

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