By Vicki Needham - 07/03/16 06:00 AM EDT
Donald Trump has found a new enemy in his quest for the White House: the global elite.
In a series of economic speeches, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has railed against the forces of globalization, arguing that changes in the economy have betrayed workers and wiped out the middle class.
"Hillary Clinton and her friends in global finance want to scare America into thinking small — and they want to scare the American people out of voting for a better future," Trump said Tuesday in a speech near Pittsburgh.
“I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who've led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster after another.”
Trump’s rhetoric is unusual for a presumptive Republican nominee for president, placing him in direct conflict with Washington business groups who have traditionally been allies of the GOP.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which doesn’t endorse presidential candidates, unloaded on Trump during the jobs speech, rebutting him point by point on his criticism of trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
In an op-ed in The Washington Post, the Chamber’s President and CEO, Thomas Donohue, said both Clinton and Trump are wrong on trade.
“Let’s get one thing straight — ripping up our trade agreements, as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggests, and raising a tariff wall around the U.S. economy wouldn’t bring those jobs home,” Donohue wrote.
“Instead, it would decimate millions of high-wage American jobs and slam families trying to make ends meet.”
Trump has treated such criticism as validation of his argument that business leaders are selling out American interests.
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is totally controlled by the special interest groups,” Trump said in defense of his plan to possibly pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the TPP.
“They want to have TPP, one of the worst deals, it will be the worst deal since NAFTA,” Trump said.
Trump tweeted that the Chamber should fight harder for the American workers because “China, and many others, are taking advantage of the U.S. with our terrible trade pacts.”
Tony Fratto, a former George W. Bush administration official and head of Hamilton Place Strategies who has advised businesses on trade, called Trump’s attacks “destructive” and “wrong-headed."
“To trash TPP the way he does is really upsetting,” Fratto said.
“He’s not serious at all, and he’s only interested in selling in false promises,” he added.