U.S. President Donald Trump
Photo: Win McNamee
Photo: Win McNamee

Trump, Brown discuss GM shutdown in Ohio: What’s really going on

President Donald Trump spoke by telephone late Wednesday with Sen. Sherrod Brown about General Motors’ decision to close down the Lordstown production facility less than one day after Trump appeared to blame Brown for the automaker’s move.

In a statement after the call, Brown, D-Ohio, said he was “glad the president said the right things” in the phone call, adding “he needs to follow it up with action.”

The call took place after Trump on Tuesday seemed to hold Brown responsible for GM’s decision to cut 1,400 jobs at the Northeast Ohio facility, saying “Ohio wasn’t properly represented by their Democratic senator, Senator Brown, because he didn’t get the point across.”

READ MORE: 5 quick facts about GM’s history in Dayton

Trump made his comments during an interview with the Wall Street Journal. He did not appear to assign any blame to the state’s other senator, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

By Tuesday evening, Brown, an Ohio Democrat, had fired back on Twitter: “@realDonaldTrump, I’ll compare my record standing up for Ohio & American workers to yours any day.”

Brown, who is considering challenging Trump for the White House in 2020, said Trump told him during the call he “liked” a bill Brown has introduced that would give a $3,500 discount to customers who bought cars made with American materials assembled in the United States.

That bill also specified that companies that send jobs overseas lose their tax cut on overseas profits, making it more challenging to ship jobs out of the United States.

READ MORE: GM to idle Lordstown plant in Ohio

Both Brown and Portman have urged GM CEO Mary Barra to invest in the Lordstown facility. In April, Brown wrote a letter to Barra urging her to protect Lordstown, and the two met in Brown’s office June 5. Portman, meanwhile, met with Barra as recently as Sept. 25 in his D.C. office.

Outgoing Republican Gov. John Kasich, meanwhile, said Wednesday that he will continue talking with General Motors officials in attempts to salvage a future for the Lordstown plant amid the “painful loss.”

The plant was the victim of “economic reality” that it produced the slow-selling, low-profit Chevrolet Cruze while the auto industry also faces higher costs due to steel tariffs imposed by Trump, Kasich said.

“We’re not giving up on GM at this point,” Kasich said.

While it would take years, Kasich hopes perhaps GM can retool the plant to produce an in-demand vehicle.

Or, perhaps another large manufacturer could adopt the space, the governor said, citing Fuyao’s automotive glass plant, that now employs hundreds, located in a closed GM plant in Moraine in the Dayton area.

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