President Donald Trump told a crowd at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima that 400 new jobs are coming to the plant, just north of the Dayton region.
“You better love me. I kept this place open,” President Trump said when he took the stage.
Trump said “jobs are coming back” like never before.
Early in his address, President Trump mentioned the recently closed General Motors plant in Lordstown.
Trump said “sell it to somebody or open it yourself.”
The president is traveling with acting Defense secretary Patrick Shanahan and Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, according to an administration aide, as well as Stephen Miller and Derek Lyons, per in-town pool. Peter Navarro, assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy is also on the trip.
He talked to AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO Radio live this morning and you can listen to his interview below:
Trump attracted enthusiastic support when he landed in Lima.
“We love you,” one woman called out after President Trump landed at the airport.
Trump is speaking at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, where he has proposed spending more to upgrade the M-1 Army battle tank. The facility also builds the DCHA1 Stryker, an armored fighting vehicle that serves as the centerpiece of our military’s Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.
Trump’s recently submitted military budget asks Congress to spend more money at the Lima plant.
President Trump requested 174 Abrams tanks in fiscal year (FY) 2019, and $714 million was invested in January.
According to the White House, the Lima plant has added more than 150 workers since 2016.
“UAW members at the General Dynamics Lima Tank plant are proud of the role they play in defending the United States,” said UAW Secretary Treasurer Ray Curry on the federal budget investment in the Lima tank plant. “The UAW thanks elected leaders that have fought to keep production at Lima for years and supports the Administration’s budget request for more than $2.3 billion to speed up production and produce over 317 new military vehicles. Every day UAW members in Lima head to work knowing that their quality craftsmanship will make our nation safer and our futures brighter.”
Trump landed at Lima’s airport around 2:15 p.m.
Congressman Jim Jordan, State Sen. Matt Huffman and State Rep. Bob Cupp were among the officials meeting the president at the airport. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was also in the audience.
Trump mentioned Jordan, Portman, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy and U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Findlay from the stage Wednesday.
Since the president was at a tank plant, he took the opportunity to recall when 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis famously climbed into a tank on camera.
Trump says Dukakis "tanked when he got into the tank."
He adds that Dukakis' helmet was "bigger than he was" and that "was not good."
Dukakis' was ridiculed during the 1988 campaign after he donned a military helmet and rode in a tank, intending to portray himself as worthy of becoming commander in chief. Dukakis' Republican rival, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, ran campaign ads with images of Dukakis in the tank.
Most politicians since then have avoided wearing anything on their heads,
Trump tours plant before speech
Trump was shown the bottom half of an Abrams tank being refurbished at the Lima Army Tank Plant and then saw the completed tank during his second stop Wednesday.
After completing the tour, Trump told cheering workers: "Well, you better love me. I kept this place open."
Trump’s visit to Lima marks his 10th trip to the state since taking office.
Trump returns to Ohio facing challenges
As Trump returns to Ohio, he returns to a state facing challenges.
Farmers are grappling with a trade war with China, General Motors just closed a major factory in Lordstown, and $112 million designated for Ohio military projects could be used to pay for a wall on the Mexican border.
President Trump maintains an ardent following in Ohio, with some surveys showing he has the support of nearly 50 percent of Ohio voters.
RELATED: President Trump coming to Lima Wednesday
To Trump’s supporters, his visit is a welcome opportunity to embrace a president who is doing exactly what he said he’d do — cut taxes, nominate conservative Supreme Court justices and cut regulations.
“If the election were today in Ohio, I think he’d win by more than eight and a half percent,” said Jordan, an Urbana Republican. “He is doing what he said he’d do and keeping his promises.”
The Lima tank plant is in Jordan’s congressional district.
His critics say Trump is providing a false confidence.
Matt Borges, former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party said Trump “is not in a strong position. His approval ratings have never been particularly high, hovering in the low 40s. He should be doing better given the state of the economy. We run the real risk of losing to a Democrat in 2020 and that (is something) no Republican would want.”
Crowd gathering for President Trump event at the Lima tank plant. Look for our coverage at 5 @whiotv pic.twitter.com/dz48JyRbBx— Jim Otte (@JOtteWHIO) March 20, 2019
That’s the dichotomy of President Trump: Depending on your politics, he is lovable or loathable. Each side uses different facts to tell the story of his success or failure.
“You have to separate the facts and feelings here,” said David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati. “If we’re going to analyze straight facts, then you’re going to run through a litany of Ohio’s difficulties and the lack of responsiveness to them.
“But if you’re going to tell a story about feelings, there are an awful lot of Ohioans who feel represented, who feel they have a voice in Washington right now. That matters quite a lot.”
Even Trump’s most full-throated backers acknowledge he can be polarizing.
Yes, the GM plant no longer builds Chevy Cruze. But Trump’s tweets this weekend — including one directed at the head of the local United Auto Workers Union in Lordstown — brought attention that auto workers hope will bring a new product into the plant.
Ohio Democratic Party chairman @DavidPepper speaking at press conference in Lima as a counter-event to President @realDonaldTrump’s visit today. pic.twitter.com/4LmwFowocd— Max Filby (@MaxFilby) March 20, 2019
Yes, Trump’s engaged in a trade war that is impacting American farmers. But the nation’s unemployment rate is at 3.8 percent and the stock market continues to rise.
Yes, it’s possible that money for military construction projects at Wright–Patterson, Camp Ravenna and other sites may be used to build the border wall. But President Trump has requested an increase in defense spending overall, and is working to build the border wall he promised during his campaign.
“Either you like what he does or you don’t like what he does,” said Tom Zawistowski, a Portage County Tea Party leader who backs Trump.
“He defies political gravity,” said Mahoning County Democratic Party Chair David Betras.
Yet there are some hints that Trump’s support in Ohio could slowly erode. Jeff Sadosky, a political strategist in Washington with long ties to Ohio Republicans, said the possible loss of military projects suggests “someone in the White House political office is taking Ohio’s electoral votes for granted.”
“Voters are wiser then he gives them credit for,” Sadosky said. “In the end, they will have tuned in enough to realize the downstream effects of bad trade and defense policies.”
Trade war impact on Ohio farmers
Just last year, the Trump administration launched a trade war with China which responded with tariffs on American soybeans. On Monday, the Ohio Department of Development, relying on federal statistics, reported that sale of Ohio soybeans to China plunged 74 percent from $615 million in 2017 to just $157 million last year.
To help cushion the losses for farmers, the Trump administration funneled $12 billion in relief payments to farmers across the country. But experts say the federal aid does not make up all the losses endured by farmers.
Joe Cornely, a spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau, said the trade war with China has “caused a lot of economic difficulty for farmers and will continue to do so” until the dispute is resolved, adding “the lack of an open Chinese market has been and continues to be a problem for farmers.”
Will Ohio matter in 2020 election?
There is plenty of evidence that Ohio has embraced Trump. Zawistowski cited the announcement this month that Democratic super PAC Priorities USA has dropped Ohio as one of its high-priority states in 2020 — a sign they no longer consider Ohio a battleground.
“We don’t care what he says,” Zawistowski said. “We don’t care about his personality. We care about, ‘Are you doing things that help us? Are you doing things to make our lives better?’”
Trump will cap his day Wednesday at a fundraiser in Northeast Ohio where tickets range from $2,800 for a reception up to $70,000 for dinner tickets for a couple, according to the Canton Repository.
Jordan said the fact that the president is participating in a fundraiser not far from Lordstown Wednesday night won’t likely trouble those in northeast Ohio.
“I think Americans understand that when you’re running for re-election as the president is, it takes resources to talk about the things that you have done for the American people, and it takes resources to combat all the false things the press is going to say about the president,” Jordan said.
The Associated Press and White House pool reporter Maggie Haberman of the New York Times traveled with President Trump and contributed to this report.
We have a team of reporters in Lima Wednesday with President Trump.
On TV: Newscenter 7's Jim Otte will be in Lima with the president. Watch his coverage on Newscenter 7 starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
In Thursday's newspaper: Reporter Max Filby will be in Lima and have complete coverage online and in Thursday's newspaper.