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German Election Outsider Slams Trump’s ‘Defense Spending Logic’

Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz speaks during a traditional Ash Wednesday meeting in Vilshofen, Germany, March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Martin Schulz, the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), slammed Chancellor Angela Merkel Sunday for not standing up to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Schulz tried to relaunch SPD’s election campaign at the party convention by distancing himself from Merkel. The former European Parliament president said Germany can no longer rely on an “erratic” Trump while criticizing Merkel for giving into calls for increased defense spending among NATO members.

“We don’t know whether we can rely on the U.S., but we know very well that we can no longer rely on an erratic President Donald Trump,” Schulz said Sunday at a party convention in Dortmund. “We’re not prepared to surrender ourselves to this Trumpian defense-spending logic, but have to forge our own path.”

A ZDF poll released Friday put SPD 14 percentage points behind Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union. SPD briefly held the lead after Schulz took over in March before declining in popularity.

The problem many party members point out is that Schulz struggles to distinguish himself from Merkel.

“Schulz is afraid to attack Merkel. He has overestimated himself during the hype, thinking he could make the election about personality,” Gesine Schwan, a former SPD presidential candidate told The Washington Post in an article published Saturday. “Of course, on personality Merkel is very strong. The point is that she has a very bad policy, and this is where he has to attack her — her changes on taxes, no clear vision for Europe or climate policy, and the security issue, which doesn’t have to be a conservative point.”

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