Trump faceoff with China exposes GOP weakness in rural US

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Trump faceoff with China exposes GOP weakness in rural US
Matt Aultman, a grain salesman and feed nutritionist with Keller Grain & Feed, Inc., shows locally grown soybeans during an interview at their facilities in Greenville, Ohio, Thursday, April 5, 2018. Rural America is struggling under a cloud of uncertainty as the Trump administration escalates a trade dispute with China. The Republican president says he’s simply fighting against unfair business practices with a geopolitical rival. But voters in rural America, those who fueled his 2016 presidential victory, say Trump’s moves are threatening their livelihoods and forcing some to re-think their politics. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s faceoff with China over trade has exposed an unexpected political vulnerability in what was supposed to be the Republican Party’s strongest region: rural America.

The clash with China poses a direct threat to the economies in both red and blue states, from California’s central valley to eastern Washington through Minnesota and across Missouri and into Ohio.

They are regions where the GOP’s quest to retain its House and Senate majorities this fall is tied directly to Republican voters’ views about their pocketbooks and Trump’s job performance.

In Minnesota, soybean farmer Bill Gordon says the volatility in the markets makes it harder for farmers to sell their crop and lock in profitability. He voted for Trump but said the trade tensions could affect his vote for Congress.