Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky didn’t have anything to say when approached by CNN on Tuesday. Asked if trade with China has been good for his state, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said he didn’t know. His fellow South Carolinian Sen. Lindsey Graham said it was a good question and that he’d have to think about it. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas just shrugged.
There’s a reason southern Republicans are reluctant to talk about tariffs. As much as any region in the country, the South has benefited from free trade, which has helped boost demand for its agricultural goods and provided its factories with low-cost components to feed the region’s growing industrial base.
But those economic interests cut against the political preferences of the majority of voters in southern states, where Trump enjoys some of his highest approval ratings in the country…
While Republicans from Midwestern farm states have been more vocal in their opposition to the trade war, most notably Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a farmer himself, southern Republicans have mostly kept their heads down.