Merkel Challenger Slams Trump as German Election Draws Near


German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief rival, Social Democrat Martin Schulz, slammed U.S. President Donald Trump and said he still stands a chance to win the election despite polls showing him trailing six weeks ahead of the contest.

Schulz said he wouldn’t criticize Merkel’s approach to a possible nuclear conflict over North Korea, saying German political parties should stand together. Instead, he turned his ire to Trump, saying the U.S. leader was responsible for sowing chaos at home and abroad, referring to a white nationalists’ demonstration in Virginia over the weekend.

Martin Schulz on Aug. 13.

Photographer: Axel Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

“I certainly won’t exploit a crisis that this completely irresponsible man in the White House has produced, both in the U.S. — take a look at these Nazi demonstrations — as well on the international level,” Schulz told broadcaster ZDF on Sunday.

In a second appearance later in the day with broadcaster RTL, Schulz said that Trump “lowers himself to the level of a North Korean dictator” with his rhetoric.

“Trump is an unpredictable personality,” Schulz told a studio audience.

Schulz, whose Social Democrats are more than 15 points behind Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc in most polls, also echoed the chancellor in criticizing German carmakers for a diesel-cheating scandal and failing to invest sufficiently in new technologies.

“The irresponsible managers of the auto industry should take on responsibility,” Schulz told ZDF, defending an agreement shepherded by the government this month in which the carmakers will upgrade newer diesel cars and offer trade-in rebates on older models.

“We have a situation in which managers who make millions, at VW, at Daimler, have slept through the future,” Schulz said. “Because of the cost savings in their balance sheets, they failed to invest in the areas where they should have.”

Schulz declined to be drawn out on whether the Social Democrats would agree again to join a Merkel-led government, insisting that he shouldn’t be ruled out as the next chancellor.

“I think I have a good chance to lead the next government; we still have six weeks left,” Schulz said.

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