Joe Biden appropriated an iconic Trumpian slogan in a New York Times interview published on Wednesday.
What he said: Biden told Times opinion columnist Thomas Friedman he felt like he did “something good for the country” by apparently beating President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
However, Biden went on to endorse parts of Trump’s “America First” agenda — at one point even using the phrase as his own.
- They key to managing China, Biden said, is “leverage,” which he said he would achieve in part with industrial policy.
- “I want to make sure we’re going to fight like hell by investing in America first,” he continued. “I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers” and in education.”
- Biden talked up investment in infrastructure, an unrealized Trump priority, while also mentioning energy, biotech and A.I.
- “You know, it really does go to the issue of dignity, how you treat people,” he said. “I think they just feel forgotten. I think we forgot them.”
Biden further said he would keep in place Trump’s China sanctions and trade deal at least until he could “develop a coherent strategy,” though he wants to reenter the Iran nuclear deal.
The reaction: Biden’s Trump act did not go unnoticed.
- The Times’ news side called his comments to Friedman “A variation on “America First.”
- And Breitbart News accused Biden of stealing from Trump, noting that the former vice president has repeatedly pledged to end Trump’s supposedly disastrous nationalistic foreign policy.
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Biden’s economic team plans to adapt Trump’s “America First” policies to “address the failings of globalization in a more cooperative manner.”
- “There was a clear statement from U.S. voters four years ago, that the gains from globalization and our economic system needed to be shared more widely,” said Nathan Sheets, an Obama-era Treasury Department official.
Many conservative commentators, though, have expressed skepticism that Biden — and his nascent staff of establishment Democrats — will actually do more than pander to working Americans.
- Fox News host Tucker Carlson in September mocked Biden for allegedly posing as “the America First” candidate during the first presidential debate.
- “‘We’ve got to buy American! Buy American!’ says the man who welcomed China into the World Trade Organization and has been sucking up assiduously to its leaders ever since. ‘Fight the billionaire!’ says the man whose campaign is funded by oligarchs on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley,” Carlson said.
- “Joe Biden stole Donald Trump’s lines. It was remarkable. How was Biden able to do that? The Trump campaign should ruminate on that question.”