Kirkwood Community College
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
6:16 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I just learned more about farming than I ever thought I’d learn. What a good place. I love it. I want to thank also Dean Scott Ermer along with the students and faculty at Kirkwood Community College for hosting us. What a beautiful place. We’re here today to talk about how we’re going to empower America’s farmers and protect our nation’s proud farming legacy, including ethanol, which I’ve done. (Applause.) Family farmers are the backbone of America, and my administration will always support the farmer.
I want to begin by congratulating Iowa’s new governor, Kim Reynolds. Where’s Kim? (Applause.) I’m so proud of Kim. I’ve known Kim for a long time, and her husband. And I said, you know, one of the other things I get with Terry, by moving him out, Kim becomes governor and Terry can take on China. (Applause.) That’s not bad. She is doing a great job.
Thanks also to Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg — (applause) — and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, a man who’s been to so many of my stops, Bill Northey. (Applause.) Thank you, Bill. Thank you for all that support. And Congressman — a very popular guy — Rod Blum, doing a fantastic job in Washington. (Applause.)
All right, so, most importantly, I have to say — they will all agree — he’s a great friend of mine, with an incredible family, a very talented son, Eric — that I can tell you — but I’m really, truly proud. I wanted to be here for this reason — to congratulate your former governor, our new ambassador to China, Terry Branstad. (Applause.)
Terry is a true legend. The people of Iowa first made him governor in 1983. You elected him six times and made him the longest-serving governor of any state in the history of America. That’s not bad. (Applause.)
Under Terry, Iowa’s economy is stronger, its farmers more successful, its schools better, its communities more prosperous, and its citizens safer. And I want to tell you that’s three decades. This is one great man. He’s been in politics for more than three decades. And we’re going to keep him there — I don’t know, do we consider ambassadors politicians? Not really, in the true sense. So perhaps we sort pulled you out. But he’s going to be a doing a job.
I’ll tell you one quick story with Terry. When I was campaigning in Iowa, Terry would always say, “Do me favor — don’t say anything bad about China.” (Laughter.) See, in that day — in those days, he didn’t call me “Mr. President” — he’d say “Donald.” He’d say, “Donald, don’t say anything bad about China.” I said, why? He said, “We have a great relationship with China, and I like it, and I really like President Xi,” who he knew for 30-some-odd years.
And it really dawned on me when I was thinking about ambassadors. I said, boy, wouldn’t it be great if I picked a man that really likes China and, by the way, China really likes him? (Applause.)
So that was an easy one. I called him up, and I said, you know, I think after 24 years it’s maybe time for a change, so let me just steal you. I also knew about Kim, and Kim has been a great supporter and friend, and so I knew that that was going to be taken care of very nicely. So we’re really happy and really proud of Terry. You know, his legacy will endure for a long, long time in this state. He loves this state and the people so much. And together, we all join to express our deep gratitude to Terry for everything he has done for Iowa and for its people.
Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much. And have a good time in China. (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR BRANSTAD: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
For a farm kid from Iowa, my life’s ambition was to serve the people as governor. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that President Trump would ask me to represent all of the United States of America in China. I will do my very best.
Mr. President, first of all, I want to congratulate you on your leadership. We’ve been trying to get American beef in China for 13 years, and you’ve already got it done. (Applause.) And there’s more to come!
I am honored and proud to represent the United States of America and President Trump in the People’s Republic of China. And I hope a lot of you will come to see us.
Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Great guy. Ambassador Branstad will be serving in Beijing, but he’s going to be fighting for American farmers and for American workers and for Americans. And there’s nobody I can think of that can do a better job or a more effective job.
So, Terry, go out there. He’ll be joining Secretary of Agriculture — somebody you all know very well — the legendary, Sonny Perdue — (applause) — and a man who is another legend on Wall Street — truly a legend; they just call him Wilbur. How about Wall Street? (Applause.) Where Wall Street is big and strong, he’s just known as Wilbur. It’s Wilbur Ross. Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce. Pretty good on Wall Street. When they just say, “I hear Wilbur is going to be Secretary of Commerce” — Carl Icahn called me. He said, “Donald, I heard you got Wilbur.” That was it. It wasn’t “Wilbur Ross.” But there’s Wilbur Ross, and he’s going a fantastic job.
And also working along with Wilbur is U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, another phenomenal talent. And I told you about fair trade. I told you about free trade. I told you about trade. We have the best in the world on our side now, finally, after watching for many, many decades what’s been happening, with trade deficits that are beyond anything that anybody could imagine — hundreds of billions of dollars. And now we have the right people on our side.
So, Wilbur, go out and do it. Robert, go out and do it. We’ll all have a good time together. And you know what? The world is going to like us even better, believe it or not.
So they’re going to be representing — (applause) — they’re going to be representing America’s interests and delivering historic wins for our farmers and our factory workers, and our workers generally.
And I have to tell you, last night was very exciting.
Karen Handel and Ralph — Ralph Norman. (Applause.) Ralph Norman. I spoke to Ralph today. He won a great event. Now, a lot of people didn’t show up to vote because they said, well, he’s going to win by so much. It got a little bit tighter than he thought. (Laughter.) Sometimes when they think you’re going to win by too much, I wouldn’t say that’s so good. Next time we’re going to say it’s going to be really close. But he still won easily. But what a fantastic guy he is. And between the two of them, that was a big night.
So we’re 5-0 in special elections — 5-0. (Applause.) 5-0. And I watched the faces on those newscasters, in many cases, and they were going, oh, this is going to be a big night; this will be great humiliation for President Trump if she doesn’t make it. Well, they weren’t thinking in terms of Ralph so much. In all fairness, Ralph sort of said he felt like the forgotten man last night.
But this will be tremendous humiliation — they built these studios; they built everything. They were set. Believe me, had our wonderful candidate lost, this would have been one of the great, big stories in the history of American politics. Those studios would have been up for weeks. They would have been talking for weeks about this tremendous defeat. And after it said projected winner was sort of — they just sort of slinked out of there. (Laughter.) They slinked out.
One of them actually said, well, maybe it was the weather. You know, it was drizzling. A little bit like this, but a little bit less. It was drizzling. Did you hear that one, Ambassador? It was drizzling. Maybe that was the difference.
And won by a lot. Won by a lot. So we’re very happy. And she’s going to be — Karen is going to be a great person in Congress. And we have some incredible people and we’re doing some really wonderful things, including the taxes are coming along and the healthcare is coming along. (Applause.)
And we have Gary Cohn, the President of Goldman Sachs, who left Goldman Sachs and a slightly higher salary than he’s getting right now by, like, hundreds of millions of dollars — like by a lot. (Laughter.) Where’s Gary? He’s around here someplace. And Gary is working on some incredible plans — not only taxes, but we’re going to be rebuilding our country. We’re going to do things in terms of infrastructure that we need. Our roads, our highways, our bridges, our schools, our airports.
We spent, as of a few months ago, $6 trillion — trillion — in the Middle East. We have nothing. We’re back further than we were 16 years ago when this whole thing started — $6 trillion. And if you want to spend three and half dollars to build a school, or you want to build — you want to spend any money in this country, it’s like a big deal. But we spent $6 trillion in the Middle East. And we’re going to get that whole situation under control.
That’s not an easy one. I was dealt a very difficult hand, believe me, when I took over, between North Korea, the Middle East — you look at Afghanistan, what’s going on there. This was a tough hand. But you put me there for a reason, and I think you’re going to be very happy with the end result, believe me. (Applause.)
American farmers and ranchers are the best — absolute best at what they do. And they can compete anywhere if they are given a level playing field. They’re not given that level playing field because of our terrible, terrible trade deals. And we’re going to start doing much better. You produce the product, but you have to work too hard and too long to make a living.
We’re cracking down on foreign trading abuses; making it easier to produce and grow in America; eliminating job-killing regulations all over the place — (applause) — and we’re training our great American workers.
That’s why it’s so important to support schools like Kirkwood, which are helping to train young people in cutting-edge new technologies that will make American agriculture greater and more productive than ever before.
Farming — which is something that is very beautiful to me. I’m not a farmer, but I’d be very happy to be one. It’s a very beautiful world to me. And it’s a truly noble American profession. Today, we’re celebrating the dignity of work and the greatness of the American farmer and the American worker.
George Washington once wrote: “I’d rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” We understand that. Especially after I’ve spent all this time in Washington, I can really understand. (Laughter.)
I want to make sure the next generation of Americans has that opportunity as well. And, in particular, that includes your children and your grandchildren, and working very hard to get rid of the death tax so that those farms can be passed on. (Applause.) Very, very hard to get rid of that. We’re working very hard so your farms can be passed on to your children and your grandchildren. And they’ll keep them going and they’ll run them with love.
We want to eliminate the intrusive rules that undermine your ability to earn a living, and we will protect the corn-based ethanol and biofuels that power our country. (Applause.) And you remember, during the campaign, I made that promise. And I also made a promise, I’m coming back. And here I am. And that promise has been kept. (Applause.) And even Terry is clapping about that one, but he was fighting very hard for that, believe me.
For the past two weeks, my administration has been working extensively on vocational education, infrastructure, and technology. Here, at this great facility, we have just seen fantastic examples of how vocational training in new technologies can help make American farming even more productive so we can compete and win, win, win on the world stage.
We saw how today’s farmers can adjust application rates of fertilizers in their fields with just the touch of a smartphone. It’s changed a lot over the years.
They showed us how they use precision agriculture to produce crops more efficiently and for far less cost. They’ve demonstrated how drones, of all things, are used to gather data on crops, and how simulators are used to train students in the next generation of farming equipment. If we continue to train our workers in these new technologies, then we will usher in a new era of prosperity for American agriculture and for the American farming family.
We must also ensure that these students have the broadband Internet access they need in order to succeed and thrive in this new and very modern and very changed economy and world. That is why I will be including a provision in our infrastructure proposal — $1 trillion proposal — you’ll be seeing it very shortly — to promote and foster enhanced broadband access for rural America also. (Applause.) We know that Wall Street wants it very badly, but you know what else? The farmers also want it. And you’re going to have it.
We have to make sure American farmers and their families, wherever they may be, wherever they may go, have the infrastructure projects that they need to compete and grow. And I mean grow against world competition, because that’s who you’re up against now.
We will rebuild rural America. (Applause.) American farmers — (applause) — thank you — American farmers pour their hearts into their crops and their love into their great communities. That’s why they call this the Heartland. And those maps, those electoral maps, they were all red. Beautiful red. (Laughter.) Beautiful. (Applause.) If you look at those maps, it’s almost like — wow. A lot places that people weren’t thinking about turned red. A couple of little blue dots on the sides, but they are red — farmers.
And our farmers’ work ethic feeds America, and their toughness and grit define America. They’re tough and they’re smart. (Applause.) Our rich and abundant soil provides more than a living; it provides a beautiful way of life for a lot of people. Today we honor and treasure this noble history, and embrace the new technology that will power this industry well into the future. With incredible leaders and students like all of you, I know that the future of American farming has never looked brighter. Believe me. And with me as your President, it’s going to be that way, I will tell you that. (Applause.)
So it’s a great honor to be here with you today. People that I know, people that I love, very special people; the people of Iowa that were so good to me during the election. So many friends. I want to thank you for being here.
God bless you and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
6:36 P.M. CDT