(20 Mar 2019) President Donald Trump is returning to the state that foretold his 2016 victory and serves as the linchpin of his re-election effort.
Trump’s visit to Ohio on Wednesday marks his first trip to the state since last year’s midterm election campaign, when the state was a rare bright spot for Republicans in the upper Midwest.
But with Trump’s path to another four years in the White House relying on a victory in the state, his campaign is mindful of warning signs that Ohio can hardly be taken for granted in 2020.
Perhaps no state has better illustrated the re-aligning effects of Trump’s candidacy and presidency than Ohio, where traditionally Democratic-leaning working-class voters have swung heavily toward the GOP, and moderate Republicans in populous suburban counties have shifted away from Trump.
This week’s visit marks Trump’s 10th to the state since taking office. He is set to visit the Lima (LEYE’-muh) Army Tank Plant, which had been at risk for closure but is now benefiting from his administration’s investments in defense spending. He’ll also hold a fundraiser for his re-election campaign in Canton.
Trump’s visit comes days after he railed against the closure of a General Motors plant in Lordstown, a significant contributor to the economy in the eastern part of the state. The plant, which produced Chevy Cruze sedans, closed earlier this month despite bipartisan pressure on the automaker, which claims it is responding to consumer demand for larger vehicle types.
On Sunday, Trump criticized a local union leader’s handling of the closure.
The president tweeted: “Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green ought to get his act together and produce.”
In response, Green told WFMJ-TV that he doesn’t take the president’s comments personally, nor does he hold Trump responsible for the plant’s closure.
“Donald Trump didn’t close or un-allocate our location. General Motors did,” Green said. “The union hasn’t done this. General Motors has.”
The plant is a focal point despite it being one of a number of GM facilities that are scheduled to close. That’s because of the president’s pledge at a 2017 rally in nearby Youngstown, where he talked about going past big factories whose jobs “have left Ohio.”
“They’re all coming back. They’re all coming back. Coming back,” Trump assured supporters. “Don’t move. Don’t sell your house.”
It was the kind of promise that endeared Trump to blue-collar workers in places like Youngstown and Lordstown, Democratic and labor bastions where Trump surprisingly won half the vote.
But it’s also one that could haunt him with people who crossed party lines two years ago, said David Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron.
Tony Sarigianopoulos (SAR’-jehn-AH’-peh-lehs) put in a quarter-century at Lordstown. The 48-year-old from suburban Youngstown has two sons in elementary school and an ex-wife with whom he gets along. So, he is staying put and hoping the plant will get a new vehicle to build.
As for the impending presidential visit, Sarigianopoulos says he’d prefer to see the commander-in-chief act, rather than talk. Or tweet.
“That’s why you’re the president of the United States. Show us. I’m not asking you to come in and retool the plant yourself. I’m asking you to realize that this is an opportunity for you as the president of the United States to show the middle class that you truly want to see America great again. So show us. That’s all,” he said.
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