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Buttigieg: Trump administration's China tariffs 'a fool's errand'

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump is on a "fool's errand" with his ongoing trade war with China, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Sunday.

CNN's Jake Tapper asked the South Bend, Indiana, mayor on "State of the Union" in an exclusive interview why he thinks China would strike a trade deal with him if, as president, he were to ease Trump's pressure and end the President's tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. The US, Buttigieg said, has "a lot of different forms of leverage in the relationship."

"But it's also a fool's errand to think you will be able to get China to change the fundamentals of their economic model by poking them in the eye with some tariffs," he said.

Buttigieg's comments come as fears of a recession in the US grow, with critics of the President's economic policies pointing to Trump's trade war with China as a contributing factor in the potential economic slowdown. Last week, the Trump administration -- in its latest turnaround on trade -- said it would delay new tariffs on Chinese-made consumer goods including cell phones, toys and video game consoles until December 15.

Last year, Trump imposed tariffs on about $250 billion in Chinese-made goods, targeting industrial materials and components. Earlier this month, he said he would add a 10% tariff on an additional $300 billion of Chinese-made products on September 1, which would effectively put a tax on all Chinese goods coming into the United States.

Buttigieg, in his interview Sunday, expressed concern for American farmers, who he said were getting "killed" by Trump's trade war. Farmers have been among some of the hardest hit by China's retaliatory tariffs, which were put on a range of commodities including soybeans, corn and wheat.

"I was just in Iowa, in rural parts of the state, talking with a lot of farmers who -- many of whom are Republicans or supported this President and are now asking the question, 'How much longer are we supposed to take one for the team?' The President has said repeatedly that he's on the cusp of getting a deal. The President has failed to deliver a deal and I expect he will continue to do so," Buttigieg said.

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