An Ohio farmer and former Republican Party official told CNBC on Monday that President Donald Trump can't win his vote back, even if the president went above and beyond what's humanly possible.
Chris Gibbs, a soybean and corn farmer whose family owns and operates 560 acres of farmland, said on "Power Lunch" he's "dubious" about the $40 billion to $50 billion worth of agricultural buys from China that the Trump administration last week announced after another round of trade talks.
"I'm not going to vote for the president, and I'm on record for saying that," said Gibbs, a former chairperson of the Shelby County Republican Party. "He could come up with this $50 billion, he could walk across my pond and not get wet, and I'm still not going to vote for him because, you know, at the end of the day my name is Chris Gibbs, it's not Judas, and I'm not going to sell my political moorings for 30 pieces of silver."
Gibbs was one of millions of voters who gave Trump Ohio's 18 electoral votes, helping him win the White House in the 2016 election against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Republican president won more than 78% of the vote in Shelby County, which is on the west side of the state. Ohio is historically seen as a critical path for both Republicans and Democrats to win presidential elections.
"I'm out," Gibbs said.
On Friday, Trump announced that U.S. and China trade negotiators reached a "phase one deal" he said is a "tremendous deal for the farmers." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the U.S. would halt a tariff hike on Chinese imports, initially scheduled to go into effect Tuesday, in exchange for a resumption of farm purchases by China. China, the world's largest soybean consumer, has cut back on buying soybeans and other crops from American farmers as a way to apply pressure on Trump in the ongoing trade war.
The stock market reacted positively to the news on Friday, although the verbal agreement has yet to be officially written down or signed by leaders of both countries. The market was slightly down Monday as doubts grew about the preliminary trade deal.
China made about $19.1 billion in U.S. agricultural purchases in 2017, according to the American Farm Bureau. That number fell to $9.1 billion in 2018 and $8 billion through August 2019.
"I don't believe it until [the crops are] on the boat. This is deja vu all over again," Gibbs said, attributing his doubt to past promises by the president that Mexico and the European Union would make big soybean purchases.
In June, Trump suggested that Mexico would buy farm goods in order to prevent tariffs he threatened the country with.
"He's done that before. Somebody has to speak truth to power a little bit," Gibbs said. "And I hate to be a downer on this all the time, but somebody has to be practical."
Soybean futures have climbed in October, but prices are up just 0.53% year to date and 0.83% year over year.