Trump Vows to Revive Auto Manufacturing at Michigan Rally
Trump Vows to Revive Auto Manufacturing at Michigan Rally

By Lawrence Wilson

FREELAND, Mich.—President Donald Trump rallied some 3,500 supporters in this working-class community, vowing to reignite the auto industry in the state that has lost thousands of jobs to Mexico and lives under the threat of further erosion of this key industry to competition from China.

Under clear blue skies with two dozen American flags standing straight in the stiff breeze, President Trump criticized the administration’s plan to convert U.S. auto production to electric vehicles, a controversial subject in a state heavily dependent on the automobile industry.

“I’m going to turn it around and bring the car industry back to Michigan,” President Trump said to boisterous cheers. “We’re going to take jobs out of China and bring jobs back to Michigan.”

Automobile-related jobs have declined by 35 percent since 1990, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Auto manufacturing jobs now comprise just 3.7 percent of jobs in the state, half the percentage of 1990.

Automobile jobs began to disappear after the passage of NAFTA in 1992, shifting many jobs to nonunion factories in the southern United States and Mexico.

Now, Chinese automaker BYD is seeking to establish a plant in Mexico to produce low-cost electric vehicles, and Chinese parts manufacturers have located there in an attempt to enter the American market.

“We’re going to put tariffs on those cars,” President Trump said. “And we’re not going to allow them to sell those cars in the United States.”

The message resonated with the standing-room-only crowd from this working-class area that was once reliably Democrat but has been shifting in recent years. President Trump won Saginaw County by 1.1 percent in 2016 and lost by just 0.3 percent in 2020.

“This county benefits significantly from Trump. What’s making this county Republican is Trump,” Michael Stroud, a Republican strategist from Birmingham, Michigan, told The Epoch Times.

Rebuilding American manufacturing was a theme for the day, as President Trump touted the same goal in at an earlier rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

There, President Trump pledged to “reclaim America’s heritage as the great manufacturing nation.”

He drew attention to a shipbuilding contract with Wisconsin’s Fincantieri Marinette Marine that was entered during his administration and claimed that he wouldn’t have permitted Wisconsin’s Master Lock plant to close.

For the Michigan audience, much of President Trump’s wide-ranging 90-minute speech, punctuated by expletives, majored on the economy, blaming President Biden for plunging the country into inflation, making it difficult for ordinary Americans to afford groceries and transportation.

The former president paired that criticism with a shot at President Biden’s border policies, saying, “Crooked Joe is spending billions of dollars on hotel rooms for illegal aliens while hardworking Americans struggle to pay their rent.”

“The economy is terrible. All you have to do is go to a grocery store. I mean, everything’s double. It’s ridiculous,” David Benson, 69, of Sterling Heights, told The Epoch Times.

President Trump promised relief in the form of a middle-class tax cut and by ending the Biden administration’s spending priorities.

For much of his speech, President Trump returned to his familiar themes, vowing to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country, protect the 2nd Amendment, and end policies allowing transgender persons from using restrooms or competing in sports not corresponding to their birth gender.

“The Republican party is the party of common sense,” President Trump said.

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Avflight Saginaw in Freeland, Mich., on May 1, 2024. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

The former president, speaking on his first weekday outside a courtroom in three weeks, again criticized the prosecutions against him as politically motivated and unjust.

“These indictments are not just an attack on me. They’re an attack on the constitutional rights of all Americans,” President Trump said. He predicted that in November, the American people would find President Biden “guilty of destroying the country.”

President Trump repeated his claim that the 2020 election had been stolen. “Watch the cheating,” he said of the current election. “The radical left Democrats rigged the presidential election in 2020, but we’re not going to let them rig the election in 2024.”

Closing the rally, President Trump cast the upcoming election in existential terms, saying that the country is on the verge of destruction and will be destroyed without a Republican victory.

“Our country has never been in a position like this,” President Trump said. “Everything is wrong with our country … We will fight for America like no one has ever fought before, 2024 is our final battle.”

“We will take back our country on November 5, 2024,” he continued. “The forgotten man and woman will be forgotten no longer.”

President Trump returns to a Manhattan courtroom on May 2, where he is standing trial on 34 felony counts of allegedly falsifying business records in connection to hush money payments to a porn star, a charge he denies.

The next major rally for the Trump campaign is slated for May 11 in Wildwood, New Jersey.

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