1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Reckless trade war? Trump’s biggest Florida supporters say he’s just being savvy

"Art of the deal," say Reps. Matt Gaetz and Ron DeSantis.
The G7 (German Federal Government via Associated Press)
The G7 (German Federal Government via Associated Press)
Published Jun. 11, 2018

WASHINGTON -President Trump's protectionist trade policy is straining long-held Republican orthodoxy, but his two most avid Florida supporters suggest it's just a negotiating tactic.

"I think we're watching the Art of the Deal unfold in real time," U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, told the Buzz after a campaign event with gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

"This is the Art of the Deal," agreed DeSantis. "I don't want to see where we move to high tariffs across the board. But I don't think the president wants that. I think he looks at the imbalances of the tariff situation where even our allies will charge exorbitant tariffs just for us to access these markets. So I think he's doing it as a tool to bring tariffs down and give American companies more access to foreign markets which would obviously be a good thing."

Trump has slapped steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico, Canada and the E.U. and sparked a war of bitter words with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the weekend.

The trade war has sent worries across the U.S., including Florida, and triggered some Congressional calls for limits on the president's power.

Read: The price of beer could go up: How Trump's 'trade war' may hurt Rick Scott

But Gaetz and DeSantis join the camp of those who think Trump is just trying to show teeth in order to extract better trade deals.

"I don't know that his first offer is going to be how we ultimately end up but look at the strong position the president has taken on China," Gaetz said. "That's already resulted in China making the commitment to buy more American goods so I think that a tough negotiating style is not something the world is used to from the United States of America and we're now at a time where we're going to start to put American jobs and American workers first. Ultimately, I think we've got to be able to access other markets, so I think the president's ultimate outcome on the issue will reflect that."