President Donald Trump spent Monday morning lashing out at General Motors and the local chapter of the autoworkers union on Twitter after the company closed its plant in Lordstown, Ohio — and a panel of analysts on CNN said it showed his “Twitter megaphone” was no match for the global marketplace, predicting a tough fight in 2020.
The plant closure was “personal for the president because he told the Lordstown workers not to move or sell their homes, that he would save their jobs,” said host John King, who added that Ohio was “crucial” for Trump’s re-election. He ran a clip of advisor Kellyanne Conway defending what he called Trump’s “unpresidential market meddling.”
“This Lordstown plant is a political loss for the president,” agreed business correspondent Christine Romans. “‘Those jobs coming back,’ he said, but the bully pulpit of the presidency and the Twitter megaphone did not trump the realities of global business.” She explained that GM was working on “an expensive transformation” into electric and autonomous vehicles to keep up with the changing market, and that closing the plant in Lordstown freed up investment funds for that effort.
“Facing a political promise unkept, the president casting around for blame, even criticizing the local union president, telling him to ‘get his act together and produce,'” Romans said, saying he was using the same tactics he used on Ford and Carrier to keep them from expanding their Mexican facilities. CNN reporter Phil Mattingly said that Trump’s tweets were more about shoring up his base.
“Ohio is a very important state, these are who he considers these his people, and he’s making it clear to them, at least rhetorically, that he’s there to work for them,” Mattingly said. “The problem is how long does that last when there are no tangible results in the end.”
Julie Pace for the Associated Press said Trump shouldn’t have been making those promises to begin with. “As president you have a lot of tools in your tool kit, but you are not running GM, you are not in control of the global economy,” she said. “You’ve seen other presidents, other politicians talking about things like retraining and moving into different industries. That is not as clean an argument as some of the things Trump is saying. It may actually be more realistic, and that’s a challenge for Trump as he gets into his re-election.”
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