Politics

General Motors News From Ohio, Michigan Could Hurt Trump 2020 Bid

President won both states with promises of manufacturing jobs to come

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was among the lawmakers criticizing General Motors for its decision to close plants in the Midwest. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 3:20 p.m. | General Motors’ decision to halt production in two states that were key to Donald Trump’s 2016 victory could complicate the president’s re-election bid.

The U.S. automobile manufacturer announced Monday it plans to cease work on the Chevrolet Cruze at a Lordstown, Ohio, plant and on three Chevy, Buick and Cadillac models at a Detroit-Hamtramck facility in Michigan. The company said those moves, along with another at a Canada-based factory, are aimed at cutting costs.

The White House did not comment on GM’s plans for several hours. The president himself broke that silence in the afternoon as he departed the White House for campaign rallies in Mississippi.

“We don’t like it. We believe they’ll be opening something else,” Trump said of General Motors. “We have a lot of pressure on them.”

He did not provide specifics, however, on just what vehicles the company might make at those plants or partially make.

“They better put something else in,” he said, adding he urged company officials to move production of better-selling automobiles to the Ohio and Michigan facilities.

Before he departed, Trump opted against tweeting about the moves after focusing most of his Monday social media posts on immigration, a threat to close the southern border, and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing Russia election meddling probe.

But he has made big promises to auto workers in both states. For instance, in July 2017 during a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, near the the president said of manufacturing jobs that state lost over the years: “They’re all coming back.

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“They’re all coming back. Don’t move, don’t sell your house,” Trump said as the audience cheered.

“We’re going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build new ones,” he added. “After years and years of sending our jobs and wealth to other countries, we are finally standing up for our workers and for our companies.”

Trump will have several chances to weigh in on GM’s announcement on Monday, first when he leaves the White House around 2:30 p.m. then at two campaign rallies for GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi.

Lawmakers are not waiting that long, however.

“I am deeply frustrated with General Motors’ decision to shut down its Lordstown plant and disappointed with how the hardworking employees there have been treated throughout this process,” Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman said in a statement.

“I once again urged GM to make a commitment to bring a new product to the plant, especially since GM is proposing to build a number of new electric vehicles. In the short term, I urged GM to at least reallocate some of the production and employees to the Toledo GM plant.”

Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who worked for GM before being elected to Congress, said the news was “a warning and we all must be concerned about protecting jobs and keeping them in this country. ... Congress must work together on bipartisan policies that keep manufacturing jobs in this country, develops clean energy, and supports infrastructure to transform our mobility future.”

Trump won Ohio by 8.6 percentage points in 2016 and Michigan — surprisingly — with 47.6 percent of the vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 47.3 percent.

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