FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – Attempting to garner more support in the battleground state of Virginia, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pitched himself as the “pro-agriculture” candidate in the race and bashed Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine’s record as governor of the state.
Trump charged his rival Hillary Clinton with waging a “war on farmers” and said Clinton’s policies would “make America poor” while his would “make America wealthy again.”
“Farmers are the backbone of America. We have a lot of farmers here. A lot of jobs. Agriculture and forestry, combined, provide over 400,000 jobs right here in the Commonwealth,” Trump said at a campaign rally in this city an hour south of Washington over the weekend.
“But the massive regulations and EPA interventions from the Obama-Clinton administration have devastated America’s farmers, agriculture and forestry workers — they will all be looking for jobs,” he added.
Trump continued, “It’s devastating to the farmer. Hillary Clinton supports every last job-killing Obama regulation, and wants to go much, much further. The farms will be closed. She wants to put the farmers out of business, just like she wants to put the miners and steel workers out of business and we’re not going to let it happen. We are doing the opposite.”
Trump announced new members of his Agricultural Advisory Committee, which includes Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va). Trump told the crowd that “a Trump administration will be a pro-agriculture administration.”
“Together, we are going to work on reforms to support our family farms and boost agricultural production in America — that begins with hiring a pro-farmer pro-American energy head at our very, very destructive EPA,” Trump said.
“It also means I am going to eliminate the destructive and invasive Waters of the United States rule that was unilaterally issued by this administration and that is a job killer like never before. This rule is so extreme it gives federal agencies control over creeks and small streams – even puddles – on your private property,” he added.
Trump is hoping to win over voters outside of the Beltway, Richmond and the southern harbor cities, which delivered the state’s 13 electoral votes to President Obama, a Democrat, in 2008 and 2012. Former President George W. Bush, a Republican, won Virginia in 2000 and 2004.
Clinton is ahead of Trump by 11.2 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average. Losing Virginia would make Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes much more difficult. It’s ranked fifth on FiveThirtyEight’s list of states that could tip the election.
Trump promised at the rally to “cut taxes for family farms” down to 15 percent and end the estate tax or “death tax” on family farms, which he said has “really hurt” family farming. He argued that Clinton would raise taxes on family farms nearly 15 percent.
“She even wants to tax them again at death by as much as 45 percent – the death tax – and the death tax is a very big weapon and war on farmers,” he said.
Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to soon announce the restoration of voting rights for about 13,000 felons. He originally wanted to give blanket restoration to about 200,000, but was stopped in court. Trump slammed McAuliffe’s decision.
“I am proud to have the support of the law enforcement community,” he said. “Hillary Clinton is banking on her friend Terry McAuliffe getting thousands of violent felons to the voting booths, in an effort to cancel out the votes of both the law enforcement and crime victims. They are letting people vote in your Virginia election that should be not be allowed to vote — that is sad, so sad.”
During the rally, Trump zeroed in on Kaine’s term as the governor of the Virginia. Trump pointed out that Virginia’s unemployment rate more than doubled under Kaine’s watch and that illegal immigration increased in the commonwealth.
According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the unemployment rate rose under Kaine to 7.4 percent in January 2010 from 3.2 percent four years earlier. The recession began in 2008.
Trump has criticized Kaine for proposing a $4 billion tax increase as governor. Politifact rated the claim “mostly true.”
Kaine issued a tweet during Trump’s visit to his state: a graphic that said “love trumps hate,” with the senator adding, “We have so many challenges and we can’t solve any of them unless we come together.” Kaine is campaigning in Las Vegas on Monday.
“Overall, the illegal immigrant population in Virginia has nearly tripled since 2000, putting enormous pressure on schools and public services — nearly tripled. It’s getting worse,” Trump said.
“We’re going to build a wall, don’t worry, we’re going to build the wall and Mexico is going to pay for the wall, believe me, 100 percent, believe me, and that will be very easy. Politicians think we are joking; we don’t joke. This is a movement and movements don’t joke, believe me. It’s getting worse now as thousands of recent border-crossers are being relocated to the state of Virginia,” he added
Trump said the people who are “hurt most” by lax illegal immigration enforcement are “low-income Hispanic and African-Americans” who are competing for jobs and community resources against new arrivals.
“Our open border is also being used as a recruiting tool for criminal gangs, creating a growing gang problem right here in the state of Virginia where large numbers of gang members are in our country illegally,” he said.