Frequent Trump critic touts president: Trump's rhetoric on free trade at G-7 is 'tremendous news'

Frequent Trump critic touts president: Trump's rhetoric on free trade at G-7 is 'tremendous news'
© Greg Nash

Nebraska Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseMcConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal Senate approves 4B spending bill Grassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt MORE (R) issued rare praise for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE's rhetoric on free trade at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit on Saturday, commending the president's call for an end to tariffs and subsidies in the G-7 trade zone.

In an emailed statement, the senator called Trump's proposal "tremendous news" for the U.S. Officials told Reuters the proposal was taken as a "rhetorical" suggestion by assembled world leaders.

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"If the President is actually serious about leading the expansion of a G-7 no-tariff, free-trade agreement, that's tremendous, tremendous news — for the U.S. and for the free nations of the world. I would happily carry his bag to every single meeting of those negotiations," Sasse said.

Sasse's latest comments come after Trump told reporters in Canada at the G-7 summit Saturday that the group of nations should consider an end to all tariffs and subsidies and demanded that foreign leaders do more to end trade barriers with the U.S.

"They have no choice. I'll be honest with you, they have no choice," Trump told reporters. "We're going to fix that situation. And if it's not fixed, then we're not going to deal with these countries."

Still, Sasse chided the president for "whining" about trade deficits with Canada, the European Union, and other trade blocs, accusing Trump of "pretending like we're losers" on the global stage.

"The path to more trade begins with less whining on the global stage. The simple fact is that more trade has been overwhelmingly beneficial to U.S. families and to net U.S. job creation for 75 straight years, and pretending America has been taken advantage of — that is, pretending that we're losers — isn't true," he continued.

Sasse has been a frequent critic of the GOP president's trade rhetoric. 

Following Trump's announcement late last month that the U.S. would implement new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, Sasse dubbed the move "dumb" for sparking outrage among top U.S. allies.

"This is dumb," Sasse said in May. "Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don't treat allies the same way you treat opponents. We've been down this road before — blanket protectionism is a big part of why America had a Great Depression."

"'Make America Great Again' shouldn't mean 'Make America 1929 again,'" he added.