Democratic candidate with White House ties says Biden could be tougher on China

Maggie Goodlander, who is married to national security adviser Jake Sullivan, is running for a congressional seat in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire congressional candidate Maggie Goodlander, a former Justice Department official who is married to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, recently criticized the Biden administration’s actions toward China when she was asked whether there was a U.S. policy that she disagreed with.

“I think that there’s more work that could be done to be tough on China,” Goodlander, a Democrat, told WMUR-TV of Manchester.

Sullivan, Goodlander’s husband, holds a top role in the White House. His work focuses heavily on foreign policy, including U.S.-China relations.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council declined to comment on Goodlander’s remarks Wednesday.

Reached for comment, an official with Goodlander’s campaign said the interview transcript speaks for itself.

“Maggie does believe there’s more to be done on China when it comes to the issues of opioids and combating the ways that Chinese companies are fueling the Russian war machine,” the campaign official said.

Democrats and Republicans alike have highlighted China as a top foreign policy issue in the election, especially as tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have escalated over trade policies, the status and security of Taiwan, military communications and technology.

Goodlander also praised President Joe Biden in the interview, saying he “has done amazing things to improve the role of the United States around the world,” according to a transcript provided by the campaign but not published by WMUR.

Goodlander pointed to “holding accountable Chinese state-owned corporations who are fueling Russia’s war in Ukraine” and combating opioid production, according to the transcript.

“The truth is that the overdose deaths here in New Hampshire often start with Chinese chemical corporations overseas,” she said in the transcript.

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The U.S. says China is the primary source of precursor chemicals drug cartels in Mexico use to create fentanyl. China has argued that the roots of the drug crisis lie in the U.S.

The Chinese Embassy in the U.S. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Goodlander’s remarks.

The Biden administration announced last week that it was raising tariffs on $18 billion of Chinese exports, including electric vehicles. Also this month, it rolled out new sanctions against entities that have supported Russia’s war efforts, including Chinese entities.

Goodlander appeared to refer to those steps.

“There’s been a good start as we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, in the last two weeks really, from the administration to impose sanctions on Chinese state-owned entities, but there is more work that needs to be done,” she said in the transcript about countering actors who are “fueling Russia’s war in Ukraine.”

Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi has railed against U.S. sanctions and tariff increases. The Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a news release that the moves are “a most typical case of hegemonism and bullying.”

Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping near San Francisco in November after they had gone a year without speaking. After the meeting, Biden said his conversations with Xi were “some of the most productive and constructive discussions we’ve had.”

At a follow-up conversation in April, they reviewed updates on issues they discussed in California, including counternarcotics, artificial intelligence and military-to-military communication.

More recently, though, Xi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing, where he said China “hopes for the early return of Europe to peace and stability and will continue to play a constructive role toward this.”

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Goodlander was also asked in the interview how she would navigate a dispute between New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District — the House seat she’s running for — and the Biden administration, given her husband’s position at the White House.

“I love my husband. I admire him. He has an incredibly hard job,” Goodlander told WMUR, according to the transcript. “I admire the president too, he has an even harder job. But one of the extraordinary and essential things about America is that we have a separation of powers.”

Goodlander previously was a senior official in the Biden administration’s Justice Department. She launched her congressional campaign this month, setting up a primary race against the 2016 Democratic nominee for governor, Colin Van Ostern, and state Sen. Becky Whitley for the seat held by Rep. Annie Kuster, who announced in March that she would not seek re-election.

Van Ostern, who lost to Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in 2016, secured the endorsements of Kuster and numerous current and former local officials before Goodlander jumped into the race.

The primary is set for Sept. 10.

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