President Donald Trump spoke Wednesday to a crowd gathered at Ohio’s Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, the last remaining manufacturer of the U.S. Army’s main battle tank.
The facility, based in Lima, Ohio, nearly shut its doors five years ago, but was saved in January when the Trump administration reinvigorated the plant with a $714 million order for 174 M1 Abrams tanks.
“Well, you better love me. I kept this place open,” Trump began his address Wednesday to chants of “USA” from the audience. “And now, you’re doing record business. The job you do is incredible and I’m thrilled to be here in Ohio.”
“This is some tank plant. There’s nothing like it in the world. You make the finest equipment in the world. You really know what you’re doing,” he continued, joking that he wanted to get into one of the tanks, but then “remembered when a man named Dukakis got into a tank.”
According to the White House, the Lima plant has added more than 150 workers since the last year of President Barack Obama’s second term, and plans to hire 400 more workers over the next year and a half.
“We’re here today to celebrate a resounding victory for all of you, for northwest Ohio, and for our great military and for our entire country. After so many years of budget cuts and layoffs, today jobs are coming back and pouring back, frankly, like never before. Companies are coming back into our country. They want the action,” Trump said.
Lima’s local newspaper heralded Trump’s visit to the plant as a “victory for the Lima region,” and recalled the economic devastation brought to the town when the Lima Correctional Institution closed its doors in 2003.
“It was a dark day in Lima when the state announced the closure of the 88-year-old Lima Correctional Institution, putting nearly 500 people out of work and pulling an estimated $1 million out of the region’s economy,” the paper wrote in an editorial.
But just three hours east of Lima, Ohio’s Lordstown community is suffering from similar economic devastation with the closure of its General Motors plant.
“What’s going on with General Motors? We have the best economy we’ve ever had. We have the lowest unemployment we’ve had in 51 years, soon we’ll be the record. And what’s going on with General Motors? Get that plant open,” Trump said.
The president has been feuding with General Motors CEO Mary Barra via Twitter all week, and said he has asked her to either sell the plant or reopen it.
“Sell it to somebody and they’ll open it. Everybody wants it,” Trump said Wednesday. “Get it going now, and the UAW [United Auto Workers] will help you.”
“They said they have discussions coming up in September/October. I said why not tomorrow? Why not on Monday? What do you have to wait months for?” Trump continued. “Get the discussions going. Get it open. Lordstown’s a great area. I guess I like it because I won so big there.”
The UAW released a statement Wednesday thanking “elected leaders from both sides of the aisle” who have “fought to keep production at Lima for years.”
The statement went on to say that the UAW “supports the administration’s budget request for more than $2.3 billion to speed up production and produce over 317 new military vehicles.”
“Every day UAW members in Lima head to work knowing that their quality craftsmanship will make our nation safer and our futures brighter,” the UAW concluded.
Trump’s full address can be watched below:
– – –