Trump to Ohio tank makers: ‘You better love me, I kept this place open’

March 20, 2019

President Trump got right to it Wednesday as he rallied with tank makers in western Ohio, saying he deserved their plaudits as he works to lock down 2020 support and grapples with the closure of a car factory across the state.

“You better love me, I kept this place open,” he told cheering workers and supporters at the factory in Lima, which was nearly shuttered before Mr. Trump ordered up more defense spending.

“Jobs are coming back and pouring back, frankly, like never before,” Mr. Trump said.

He said the military plant’stanks are “thundering down the assembly line,” before taking credit for the rout of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, claiming the caliphate will be gone “as of tonight.”

Later Wednesday, he planned to gather with supporters and address fundraisers at a country club in Canton.

Mr. Trump’s stop in Ohio his 10th visit since taking office highlighted the importance of the state to his reelection prospects.

Ohio is a linchpin within the Rust Belt region that propelled Mr. Trump to victory in 2016. It’s also the ultimate swing state, serving as a barometer for presidential prospects.

Republicans say their vital signs are strong in Ohio, citing Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s victory in November, though Democrats can point to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s romp to reelection as a sign of liberal momentum.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said keeping Ohio and other upper Midwest states “in our column” will be a priority for the reelection team, as they leverage a robust jobs market to try and expand their map.

Mr. Trump was accompanied Wednesday by Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican, and four House Republicans from the state including Rep. Jim Jordan, a key ally.

Mr. Trump is highlighting success in Lima even as he deals with complaints he was too slow to grapple with the closure of a General Motors plant in the northeast town of Lordstown.

The Lordstown plant went dark earlier this month, leaving 1,700 workers out of a job and raising questions about Mr. Trump’ campaign pledge to keep those jobs alive.

“What’s going on with General Motors? Get that plant open,” Mr. Trump said, saying the United Automobile Workers union will help out.

Workers are hoping that another car will be made in town, though for now there is a lot of finger pointing.

Mr. Trump said he wants GM CEO Mary Barra and Union President Dave Green, of UAW Local 1112, to start negotiating the next steps now, rather than waiting for planned talks in the fall. He’s also said on Twitter that Mr. Green “ought to get his act together.”

Ohio Democrats say the union leader has worked around the clock to try and save the planet, while Mr. Trump has relied on his Twitter thumbs.

“Trump has tweeted multiple times about Lordstown’s GM plant closing,” the senatorial campaign for Mr. Brown said in a fundraising email Wednesday. “But what did those tweets accomplish? Nothing. Not a single worker went back to their job and not a single family gained certainty about their next paycheck.”