Trump has not delivered on his promise to 'get those jobs coming back' to Ohio.
The first presidential debate of the 2020 election is set to take place in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday night. Donald Trump is driven to win the key swing state and has held dozens of rallies and campaign events across the state.
Last Monday, Trump held two rallies at private airfields outside Dayton and Toledo. The Dayton event celebrated "the American Worker," while the Toledo rally was branded as the "Great American Comeback Event."
The event themes were on-brand for Trump. Over the course of his first term in office, he has made many promises to Ohio's workers and vowed repeatedly to bring back jobs to hard-hit areas. Let's take a look at Trump's record in key Ohio industries like manufacturing and agriculture.
"He lied": Trump's record on manufacturing
In 2017, Trump famously told the people of Ohio to stay put despite a massive hemorrhaging of jobs after the shutdown of a GM plant.
"Don't move, don't sell your house," Trump said at a rally in Youngstown. "We're going to get those jobs coming back, or we're going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build new ones."
Trump has not delivered on his promise to the manufacturing workers of the state. "He lied," a former GM employee told PBS last year. "It's harder and harder to find a job."
While the state saw a small decrease in unemployment at the start of Trump's presidency, those gains were completely wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic. Close to 1.4 million Ohioans have filed for jobless benefits since the start of the crisis.
Broken promises left U.S. farmers reeling
Farmers "are great patriots," Trump said in early 2018. "They understand that they're doing this for the country. And we'll make it up to them. And, in the end, they're going to be much stronger than they are right now."
Since taking office, Trump has embroiled the U.S. in a bitter trade war with China as part of a futile effort to rebuild American manufacturing and agriculture. But far from helping farmers, the president's trade policy backfired by decimating U.S. agricultural exports to China.
In 2017, China purchased more than 19 billion agricultural products from the United States, according to CNBC. By 2019, that number dropped to 9.1 billion, leaving U.S. farmers in a desperate lurch that has led some to abandon Trump.
In 2019, Chris Gibbs — an Ohio soybean farmer whose family owns and operates 560 acres of land — told CNBC he would not be casting his ballot for Trump a second time.
"I'm not going to vote for the president, and I'm on record for saying that," said Gibbs, a former chair of the Shelby County Republican Party. "He could come up with this $50 billion, he could walk across my pond and not get wet, and I'm still not going to vote for him because, you know, at the end of the day my name is Chris Gibbs, it's not Judas, and I'm not going to sell my political moorings for 30 pieces of silver."
Nick Heitz, an Ohio farmer who grows wheat, soybean, and corn, said he has struggled to break even under Trump's harsh trade policy. "I think it's farmers keep holding their breath. I don't know how much longer, how many years it's going to take. Like I said, this trade thing could go on for years," Heitz told the Lima News in Ohio. "It's about impossible to make any good marketing decisions when there is an unknown that can sway this thing hugely."
Gibbs, the soybean farmer and former Republican Party official, placed the blame squarely on Trump.
"When I look around my community, my state, I see farms deeply in debt and increasingly reliant on federal government subsidies," Gibbs told the Lima News.
He added that the White House's trade wars "seem to be a manufactured crisis done for Donald Trump's own personal political game to look tough without moving forward with a vision on a sustainable long-term trade policy."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.