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 President Donald Trump speaks to workers and guests at Dana Inc. in Warren on Jan. 30 during an event billed as a USMCA trade pact celebration with American workers.

President Donald Trump speaks to workers and guests at Dana Inc. in Warren on Jan. 30 during an event billed as a USMCA trade pact celebration with American workers.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

President Trump tours Warren plant to celebrate trade deal

By: Brian Louwers | C&G Newspapers | Published January 30, 2020

WARREN — The Trump train rolled into Macomb County on Jan. 30 for an afternoon whistle stop event before a vocal and welcoming crowd at a Warren auto supplier.  

President Donald Trump arrived at Dana Inc. on Van Dyke Avenue, north of 11 Mile Road, at about 3:40 p.m. and took a short tour of the massive plant, designed by Albert Kahn and built to produce tanks for Chrysler Corp. during World War II. He then offered remarks in front of a group of about 800 employees and guests. The event was not open to the public.

The White House billed the appearance as a “USMCA celebration with American workers” after the bipartisan United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade pact was signed into law on Jan. 29. In a conference call with reporters, senior administration officials said the agreement has the potential to create nearly 600,000 American jobs and to generate up to $235 billion in economic activity. According to the administration, that could include up to 76,000 new jobs in the auto industry. The administration said the agreement could add $23 billion in annual auto parts purchases.

At the podium, the president offered a few comments about his impeachment, the press, his predecessor in the Oval Office and former political adversaries, but the majority of his comments were heavy on his pledged support for American workers and the manufacturing industry.

“I will say that we just ended a nightmare known as NAFTA,” Trump said. “They took our jobs for a long time. They took them for a long time, and now we have a brand new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It’s a whole different ballgame. It’s going to be great for this plant. It’s going to be incredible for Michigan and for everyplace else in our country.  

“The USMCA is the fairest, most balanced and beneficial trade agreement we have ever signed into law,” Trump told the crowd. “It’s the best agreement we ever made, and we have others coming.”

Trump pledged to support efforts to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species, and to fund improvements to the Soo Locks in the Upper Peninsula, which he claimed have been needed since the 1980s.

“It was all talk and no action. They all said, ‘Leave it to the next president to do,’ but I said I am the next president,” Trump said. “This had to be done. We’re talking about 11 million jobs indirectly all over, those locks serve.”

Trump also dangled “strong consideration” from his administration for the potential deployment of state-of-the-art F-35 fighter planes at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, where Air Force One landed for the president’s visit.   

Outside of the event before the president’s arrival, Michigan Democrats countered Trump’s claims of “promises kept” with talking points about shuttered plants, lost manufacturing jobs and stagnant wages at the expense of the wealthy.

“Yet again, Donald Trump is coming to Michigan to tell tales of economic success and promises kept. Today, he’ll tout an erratic trade policy as a grand win, tell Michigan workers he’s on their side, and quite possibly launch another vile attack on John Dingell,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes told reporters. “But I can tell you that Michigan voters aren’t buying it. They aren’t buying it because they see the side of our state and our story that Donald Trump refuses to mention, the side he ignores because it tells an inconvenient story of promises made and promises broken.”

The event, Trump’s second visit to Michigan as president, was the first of what could be multiple trips to the state, and possibly to Macomb County this year, as candidates look to court voters in key battleground states before Election Day in November.

Trump defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Michigan in the November 2016 election by just under 11,000 votes. He also won Macomb County by taking 54% of the vote, compared to Clinton’s 42%.

The last president to visit what was then the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant was President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942, at the height of the ramped-up wartime production at the heart of the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

Staff Writer Alex Szwarc contributed to this report.