Trump made the remarks in New Jersey as he headed to a rally Thursday night in New Hampshire.
The White House is facing new questions about the economy as fears grow that it could enter a recession next year.
Trump downplayed that possibility, saying that consumer spending was strong and taking credit for economic growth he said was sparked by his 2016 election. But he insisted the growth would end if the nation elected a Democrat to the White House next year.
“Frankly if for some reason that happened in the 2020 election, you’ll see this economy go down the tubes. I will tell you that right now,” Trump told reporters.
The remarks are part of a pattern of Trump deflecting any blame for possible future economic problems, and insisting that his economic strategy will be effective.
He also blamed the media, accusing it of seeking to “crash” the economy and hurt his reelection chances as a result.
On Wednesday, U.S. stock markets had their biggest decline of 2019, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunging 800 points, or 3 percent. The Dow Jones bounced back slightly on Thursday and was up nearly 100 points.
Wednesday’s sell-off came after the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds fell below the yield on two-year bonds for the first time since 2007, when the previous recession began. When 10-year bonds trade for less than two-year bonds, that inversion is considered a leading indicator of a possible economic downturn in the next 12 to 18 months.
The yield curve inversion follows Trump’s decision Tuesday to delay further tariffs on China until after the bulk of the holiday shopping season, reflecting mounting fears that the trade war could derail the U.S. economy.
Trump has been adamant that his posture toward Beijing is working, repeatedly arguing that the U.S. economy is in a strong position even as some lawmakers and experts worry about the toll of an unending trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
He insisted again as he left for the rally on Thursday that the U.S. economy remained strong, citing consumer confidence and retail numbers.