Trump touts jobs in Michigan, falsely claims he saved auto industry

Trump in Michigan

Some 5,500 supporters crowded a hangar at MBS International Airport in Freeland in Saginaw County for a campaign rally by President Donald Trump. (Bridge photos by Riley Beggin)

FREELAND — President Donald Trump visited Michigan on Thursday to tout jobs, falsely claim he “saved the U.S. auto industry” and ask supporters to remember the roaring economy before the coronavirus turned American life upside down. 

Speaking to a crowd of about 5,500 at a hangar at MBS International Airport, Trump took jabs at Democratic opponent Joe Biden and implored Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whom he called a “liberal hypocrite,” to “open up your state” from coronavirus restrictions.

“I’m running for re-election to keep jobs in Michigan,” the Republican president told supporters. “Last year, before the China plague came... we had the greatest economy in the history of the world.”

It was the president’s first campaign stop in Michigan since late May, when he visited a Ford Motor Co. plant in Rawsonville. His Thursday visit to Michigan came one day after Biden, the former vice president, visited union workers in Warren and Detroit.

Like Biden, Trump chose a politically significant spot for the visit. Saginaw County is one of the handful of Michigan counties that voted twice for former President Barack Obama but flipped to support Trump in 2016 by just over 1,000 votes.

Trump and Biden are vying for working-class voters seen by some experts as the key to carrying Michigan, which again is a battleground in the presidential campaign.

Here are some takeaways from Trump’s visit:

No, he didn’t save the auto industry

Although some of Trump’s boasts about the economy before the pandemic are accurate, his claim that he “saved the auto industry” is wrong.

He told the crowd, “you better vote for me, I got you so many damn car plants.”

In fact only one major plant, a Jeep plant in Detroit, has been announced in Michigan during his presidency and total auto manufacturing jobs in the state fell 2,000 to 40,300 under Trump as of February, according to federal statistics.

Biden, meanwhile, has also campaigned on his role in the multibillion-dollar bailout of the auto industry in 2009 as vice president. Several experts have credited the survival of General Motors and Chrysler with bailouts that began under former Republican President George W. Bush and continued under Obama.

Jobs, jobs, jobs

Trump told supporters he’s transformed the Republican Party into “the party of workers.” 

Several supporters at the rally told Bridge that jobs and the economy are the most important issues in the election this year and one of the president’s greatest accomplishments.

Trump highlighted his deal to kill the North American Free Trade Agreement, which unions have blamed for auto companies shipping jobs overseas and Biden supported as a senator. 

The president said his deal to replace the  trade deal with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and withdrawal from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership have buoyed the economy.

“USMCA has powerful protections to keep auto manufacturing jobs here in Michigan,” Trump said. “You remember how bad it was before I took office? It was like an avalanche of companies leaving our country.”

While it’s true job growth has increased in Michigan since Trump’s election in 2016, it grew at slower rates than the nation as a whole.And under Trump, manufacturing jobs grew about 10 percent to 624,000 before the pandemic, federal records show.

Bob Woodward is a ‘wack job’

Trump acknowledged the coronavirus — what he called “the plague” — has waylaid the economy, led to massive unemployment and killed more than 190,000 Americans, including nearly 7,000 Michiganders. 

Trump blamed Whitmer, Biden and other Democrats for those losses, arguing they’ve flippantly shuttered the economy. His reprisals against Whitmer garnered some of the heartiest applause of the evening. 

“Tell your governor to open up your state… these Democrat governors, I think they do it for political reasons,” he said to cheers. “It would be better if you had a governor who knew what the hell she was doing.”

The president’s visit came the day after it was revealed that he knew about the dangers of the coronavirus since early February and then admitted to downplaying it in interviews with journalist Bob Woodward earlier this year.

Whitmer, who is a national co-chair of Biden’s campaign, called Trump’s handling of the pandemic “reckless” earlier Thursday.

“I think the biggest enemy of the state right now is the misinformation that's coming out of the head of state,” she said. “And the biggest threat to the American people is the American president right now.”

Trump addressed Woodward’s revelations late in his speech, calling the journalist a “wack job” and saying he intended not to alarm the American people.

‘No president’ has done more for Michigan?

Trump spoke lovingly about Michigan throughout the rally, repeating a debatable claim that he was once its man of the year and asserting “no president has done for Michigan what President Trump has done for Michigan.”

Trump touched on the “terrible” flooding of the Edenville Dam in mid-Michigan in May, saying his administration may “sue the ass off of them," adding "we’ll get some of that [money] back I think."  (The dam’s owners have been sued repeatedly and filed for bankruptcy last month.)

Trump also hyped several Republican candidates, including U.S. Senate candidate John James, whom he called a “star.”

James told the crowd that both major political parties have failed Black voters. He called the Republican Party, the party of emancipation and the Civil Rights movement, and said it’s time for the GOP to once again “free men from bondage and to hold this nation together.” 

“We are content with calling ourselves the silent majority. It's wrong. No more. Why are we quiet?” James asked to massive applause. 

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Fri, 09/11/2020 - 1:31am

Masks, social distancing optional along with truth. Fascism unfolds before our eyes. Is it too late for America? Trump has a cult-like following. As he said, he can shoot someone on 5th Ave and get away with it. His own words. It's bizarro world, our new reality. Religious people believe Trump works for God, that only Trump can solve our problems.

Robert Honeyman
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 7:44am

He essentially shot 190k+ in front of everybody and his supporters *are* letting him get away with it. Fortunately, the election is around the corner and the rest of us will have our say.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:29am

Currently 196,345 dead in America from Covid-45.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 12:06pm

And more in MI after trump viset>>> why is it every were trump goes the infection rate goes up!!!

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 3:46pm

It's because he encourages adoring rallies and tells people not to wear a mask.

Winter is Coming
Sat, 09/12/2020 - 9:14am

Trump knew COVID19 was a huge threat and downplayed it. He STILL sends the wrong message. Look at these reckless students in Ohio who are positive and socializing anyway with anyone who passes by:
It's all about Trump winning. It's all about his selfishness. It's not at all about America.

RNC fraudsters
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 1:37am

The RNC showcased so many Black supporters. Where were all those people at the rally?

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 1:40am

The savior descends from escalators and Air Force 1 to pander for votes as a man for the people.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 8:22am

I can't believe this governor. She has ruined our chances. Michigan is going to vote for Trump no matter how many we can get out to vote. So many Democrat friends of mine said they can't vote for biden and if they knew whitmer was going to do this to this state they wouldn't have voted for her either, but felt they didn't have a choice the time.
And people commenting like this here, doesn't help we sound like crazy people ourselves and scaring people.

I call BS
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:16am

Don't lie like Trump. It's STILL wrong to LIE, despite Trump's abject immorality.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 2:25pm

I think Jim is telling the truth at least I know a small sample of people who have voted absentee for Obama and Hillary in the past and already ethier sent it in or drop it off or going too that I am not sure of, but these are reliable decent people. Many said that don't want to change president right now with all this chaos going on even though they dont like Trump. ( my thoughts they are scared ). My neighbors who are democrats are not voting this year The far left people I know just say they dont know who they are voting for or say the are voting for Biden which doesn't surprise me. I live in the upper peninsula and I am a conservative Christian and people thinking Trump is a God? I don't think so, I think they hope he can slow down the inevitable destruction that too many people hope can happen quicker, at least that what shows by their actions. Myself I would like to work a little longer and enjoy the fruit of being a hard working honest person and enjoy the life I have from living right, not being dependent politicians to give me happiness. Ethier way, the latter I will do because that is where true happiness comes from. Cheers

Shame on you!
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 3:51pm

"I think Jim is telling the truth at least I know a small sample of people who have voted absentee for Obama and Hillary in the past and already ethier sent it in or drop it off or going too that I am not sure of, but these are reliable decent people."

Ballots were not even sent out yet! You LIE and spread misinformation! You are neither Christian nor conservative. You are nothing short of a lying traitor to our country. Shame on you and God help you!

Stop lying
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 3:55pm

52 days until Election Day.

When will absentee ballots be mailed to voters?
Michigan election law requires local clerks’ offices to begin mailing requested absentee ballots to voters 40 days before an election is scheduled to take place. For military and overseas voters who have an absent voter ballot request on file, those ballots must be sent out by clerks no later than 45 days prior to the election.,9753,7-406-98810-537547--,00.html

Sun, 09/13/2020 - 5:11am

You are a Conservative Christian and claim people have already voted in Michigan? Not true. Ballots have not even been mailed yet.

Jennie B
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 11:47am

Jim, what do you know that John Kasich doesn't know? GOP is in big trouble because of people like you who won't admit that Trump is trouble for our country.

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 6:13am

Maybe more than Kasich who thought he could run for the republican presidential election and win, huh? John being a never trumper doesn't make him bias so I guess you can trust him as source of objectivity.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 9:14am

Where is your mention of the President’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize? World peace affects Michigan too! Need more unbiased reporting on this site.

Kate Convissor
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 12:23pm

Any head of state of politician can nominate someone for a Nobel prize. (Low barrier to entry). Trump has been nominated twice by Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a far-right Norwegian politician. Being nominated, obviously, is far different than winning. Trump stands no chance of winning.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 12:24pm

The unsolicited nomination (which isn't how the Nobel works) from a Norwegian loon is about as significant as YOU nominating him. Ugh

Jamie Woodman
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 12:28pm

SOHO, Trump needs to win this time because he's out of money. His campaign is going dark, no money for ads. Lucky he has the taxpayer money to fly around the country on Air Force One spreading COVID-45. Looks like We the Taxpayers are the "suckers".

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 2:15pm

An anti-immigrant Norwegian lawmaker said Wednesday that he has nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the Middle East. Nominations must be sent to the Norwegian Nobel Committee by Feb. 1, meaning the deadline to nominate people for this year’s peace prize has passed. This is a repeat performance by a dedicated Trump-fluffer who is determined to help Trump satisfy his obsessive, narcissistic jealousy of President Obama. In other words, nothing to get excited about. Unless you’re Trump, who hammered out 17 tweets. But it isn't going anywhere. You really want to fact check this nonsense Trump promotes.

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 2:28pm

Since any national lawmaker can nominate someone, Trump being nominated is pretty meaningless and Trump bragging about being nominated is peak narcissism.

Robert Kleine
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 9:16am

We did not have the greatest economy in the history of the world before the pandemic, the economy was stronger in the 1990s, and the economy was just as good and in some ways better in Obama's last term.

During President Obama's last three years in office, wage and salary employment increased 8,069,000. In Trump's first 3 years in office, wage and salary employment increased 6,346,000.

Real GDP increased slightly faster in Trump's first 3 years, 7.7%, than in President Obama's last three years, 7.5%. The reason Trump did slightly better is that he increased the Federal budget deficit and President Obama reduced it. If federal spending is excluded from GDP, real GDP increased 10.6% in President Obama's last three years and 8.2% in Trump's first three years.

President Obama inherited a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion, due to the Great Recession (which started in December, 2007 and ended in June, 2009). The deficit was reduced to $680 billion in 2013 and $585 billion in 2016. The deficit in FY 2019 was $984 billion. The FY 2020 deficit is projected by CBO to be $3.1 trillion. Before the Pandemic, the deficit was expected to be about $1 trillion. CBO is projecting that the deficit will average almost $1.3 trillion over the next decade.

For those who think Democrats are big spenders, Federal spending increased at an annual rate of 2.04% under President Obama (FY 2010 to FY 2017- the budgets he was responsible for). The average annual increase for Trump's first two budgets was 7.4%. The increase for FY 2020 is projected to be 48.5%, largely due to the pandemic.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 2:20pm

Thank you. Amazing what a little fact checking finds instead of following the lies promulgated by POTUS, who is responsible for negligent homicide.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 9:49am

trump's virus inaction and incompetence CAUSED the economy to tank. Again, it is trump's fault that the economy tanked AND 192,000 lives were lost. How much more incompetence do you need? How many more lives lost? ...While Pence driven by Koch money, continues his 7 mountain authoritarian theocracy dream.

John in Michigan
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:49am

A quick and succinct Read
which both highlights AND details/explains fact-from-fiction ...
while both giving the positive & neg. “ on the record” past words and first-hand accounts for that reckoning.
An unusual positive quality In today’s devisive reporting.
Thank you “Bridge” !

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 11:40am

No, he didn't save the auto industry, however, I don't see any mention of Ford cancelling their plans to move production to Mexico and closing another U.S. plant. No question the tax cuts did help the economy, the same as what happened when President Clinton cut taxes at the beginning of his tenure. With regards to the pandemic, it doesn't matter who the President is, when you have something unprecedented, doing the right thing every time is impossible. Anyone who thinks they could have done better is just fooling themselves. If you had listened to the Democratic politicians, there was nothing to worry about well in to March. Flights from China and Europe would have never stopped. The PPE inventory was 10% of what it was when H1N1 hit. Just as Obama did and other Presidents, Trump downplayed the danger of the virus to the public, but at the same time in a public conference call with the Governors, told them to get ready, after they told him they were in charge of the response in their respective states. The economy was doing great before the pandemic took hold. I have a couple of friends who own and manage small manufacturing businesses and they are 3 months behind. One doubled its workforce in August and both are still some 3 months behind in filling orders, primarly for the auto industry. The manufacturing jobs that left were already planned for long before he even announced he was running. Not defending what he says sometimes as it is confusing at least, but there is no question some of the legislation and policies have helped a considerable number of people in the country.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 4:17pm

In the news:
2020 Ford will cut 1,400 salaried jobs, offering early retirement
2019 Ford cutting 7,000 white-collar jobs

I guess you could say things are getting better? Now I understand what Trump meant by carnage in his inaugural address!

Um, check that!
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 4:34pm

Trump's incompetence handling COVID-45 has the USA number ONE in failure among all countries in the world, not just the industrialized countries. We've been there for the whole time and he KNEW the risks were higher than he was willing to admit. The USA has the most COVID-45 cases and the most COVID-45 deaths in the world. Only India is showing more new cases as of late.

Jerry Avalon
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 4:36pm

If Trump is as great as you claim he is, why is he holding rallies without masks or social distancing? You must love our country in financial and social ruin.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 6:39pm

Tax cuts just help the rich and corporations. They NEVER 'pay for themselves' and we end up with more debt as a result. Trump utterly failed our economy: failing to do anything about COVID (and still does nothing), stupid trade wars (the wrecked our farmers) and a pile of incredible, stupid decisions. Look at Canada and how they handled COVID. Many other countries handled it. We didn't and Trump encouraged stupidity about COVID.

Robert Kleine
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 8:06pm

We could have done better. Almost every other developed nation did better.
Germany has had only 10,000 deaths, which would be about 40,000 adjusted for population. The main difference is that have a good leader who did not play down the virus and coordinated a national response, rather than passing the buck to local officials.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 12:03pm

How many people will die due to trump viset to MI???

storm the beach
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 12:13pm

Sorry, but your headline is very negative. Why not just title it: Trump's visit to Michigan? I believe that you have just shown your bias and for that, I am now done reading/supporting your "news." Unfortunately, my choices are becoming less and less with each and every passing day. Why is there no media outlet that can just report a story - and not try to just grab a headline?

Agnosticrat 2.0
Sat, 09/12/2020 - 8:47am

There is no way to call a liar out without hurting some feelings
Just go back to reading stuff that makes you feel good. It’s as easy as plugging your ears and screaming “la la la I can’t hear you!”
It’s kinda tough on this end watching people walk away from the truth but you gotta be you.

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 4:44pm

How is the headline negative? The President claimed things that weren't true. Bridge said it was false, because it wasn't true.

I would've called it a lie because that is what it was. I understand what you are saying though. But I would be willing to bet that you threw some lucre towards this site when they said AG Nessel was saving mussels instead of a dam, didn't ya?

That is the problem with today's media. They want clicks and they think they have to put controversial headlines to do so, without realizing that is part of what causes the divide. If they just did the job they are good at (because reporting isn't headlines) they would realize they don't need those headlines. They just need a headline that explains what they are reporting on. If it interests people, they will seek it out. No need for click bait..............when you have an entree.

Jake K
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 3:21pm

Riley...please report the news. Don't portray it as it suits your personal views. Just because only one new facility was announced, it doesn't mean that other activities were taking place that didn't garner headlines. News, please. Not editorializing.

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 5:29am

It's hard to believe that a third of the country is so morally corrupt that they would think this soulless cretin would make a good President! What is wrong with you people?

Trust in Jesus
Sat, 09/12/2020 - 9:30am

The Michigan crowd estimates are between 1,500 (CBS) and 10,000 (Trump's secret service). Bridge reports 5,000. Guess in reality it was probably as big as Trump's inauguration. Like so many Trump lies, we'll just have to trust him.

When the World Trade Center collapsed after we were attacked on 9-11, all Trump could think about was that his Trump Tower was "now the tallest building in New York." Such an unfeeling lying megalomaniacal narcissist!

Stop worshiping Trump! He's the antithesis of Jesus a humble servant.

Geoffrey Owen
Sat, 09/12/2020 - 7:00pm

Pathetic in so many ways. Vote Blue. Our Governor has taken Michigan from the 4th worst state for covid19 to the 38th state. I challenge any Republican to name one progressive thing that their party has done to advance the health, welfare and freedom of Americans. Go back as far as you like. I'm not saying there aren't any, just asking.

middle of the mit
Sun, 09/13/2020 - 12:26am

This needs to be said here and now.

[[[Said Stevens: “When I talk to Republican politicians, I hear Franz von Papen,” referencing the German chancellor who convinced Germans that so-called radical leftists were a far greater threat than Adolf Hitler.

He added: “They all know that Trump is an idiot. They all know that he’s uniquely unqualified to be president. But they convinced themselves that he was a necessity.”

More: “It is the combination of the anti-intellectualism, the anti-education elements of the Republican Party, and the anti-elite elements of the Republican Party, so-called, that have culminated in this toxic brew that is killing tens of thousands of Americans. I mean, more Americans are going to die because of this combination of political beliefs than major wars.”

The real problem? Stuart Stevens, Rick Wilson, Steve Schimdt and the others? They brought the Republican party to this culmination.........and now Frankenstein doesn't know how to control his monsters! You made them, YOU designed them in your image.....

They are YOURS! Deal with them!

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 9:13am

Trump is a fascist - no doubt about it. He is tearing apart this country, enabling white supremacists, and profiting from the office of President. Have you ever wondered what you would have been doing when Hitler was rising to power in Germany? Well, look at what you're doing now and you'll know. Which side are you on?