Guest post by Sarah Johnson
In September, union leaders rocked the political world by suggesting Hillary would not just automatically get their nod; that Republican candidate Donald Trump could be in play for their consideration, in part due to Hillary’s rejection of the Keystone Pipeline, while Mr. Trump supports it.
Earlier this year, SEIU Chief Henry admitted that Trump appealed to many union members.
Recently, the New York Times expanded on that report:
In expressing her concern, Ms. Henry reflected a different form of anxiety that is weighing on some union leaders and Democratic operatives: their fear that Mr. Trump, if not effectively countered, may draw an unusually large number of union voters in a possible general election matchup. This could, in turn, bolster Republicans in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, all of which President Obama won twice.
The source of the attraction to Mr. Trump, say union members and leaders, is manifold: the candidate’s unapologetically populist positions on certain economic issues, particularly trade; a frustration with the impotence of conventional politicians; and above all, a sense that he rejects the norms of Washington discourse.
“They feel he’s the one guy who’s saying what’s on people’s minds,” Thomas Hanify, the president of the Indiana state firefighters union, said of his rank and file.
Mr. Hanify said that Mr. Trump has so far dominated the “firehouse chatter” in his state. While he allowed that his members tilt Republican, he estimated that most followed the lead of the union’s international leadership and supported Mr. Obama in 2008 and 2012…
The potential pairing of Mr. Trump and union members could be helped along by a sense that Mr. Trump, unlike more conventional Republicans, has historically enjoyed a cordial relationship with labor on many of his real estate projects.
“He has put his fair share into hiring union people,” said Richard Sabato, the president of a building and construction trades council in northern New Jersey. “He’s done that in Manhattan, in New Jersey.”…
Even more important for many union members has been the issue of economic globalization.
Mr. Trump has railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-country trade deal the administration finished negotiating last year. And he has bemoaned the administration’s failure to stand up to what he and many union members see as China’s mercantilist policies.
He has also fulminated against plans by the company that owns Nabisco to shift some production to Mexico — “I love Oreos,” he said, “I will never eat them again” — and vowed to impose a punishing tariff on imports of Ford cars unless the company canceled a $2.5 billion investment in plants in that country.
“We like that he does not support TPP, that he has taken the position that there should be trade tariffs for a company that moves jobs overseas,” said Ryan Leenders, 30, a member of the International Association of Machinists in Washington State. Mr. Leenders, who estimated that one-quarter to one-third of his factory’s union workers were Trump supporters, said he voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 and wrote in Ron Paul in 2012…
Still, unlike most other Republicans, whose appeal to union voters rarely extends beyond cultural issues like gun rights, Mr. Trump’s economic pronouncements have a greater potential to scramble the standard political calculus.
“I do think that Trump is a threat,” said Mike Lux, a progressive activist who is a former labor official and veteran of President Bill Clinton’s administration. “If the Democratic nominee is Hillary, and she’s mushy at all on the trade issue, Trump will take that issue and drive it and drive it and drive it.”
I’ll give you one person I just had dinner with, the head of the Correction Workers Union (COBA) in New York, Norman Seabrook. African-American, enormously well respected. He said to me tonight, ‘I’m endorsing Donald Trump, because he can get jobs,'” the former NYC mayor said.
Union workers in Flint, Michigan also voiced why Trump has drawn their attention and support. The Washington Post reports:
“I worked at Plant 36,” said Jerry Hubbard, who retired in 2001, after outlasting his part of the vast “Buick City” complex that was dismantled as the auto jobs left. “It’s all gone. It’s all limestone. You can’t rape a place like that. General Motors jobs made this place.” Only one presidential candidate seemed to care: Donald Trump. “A lot of what he says hits a chord with me,” said Hubbard. “Immigration and jobs going to China — this area’s really suffered from that. I just like somebody that stands up for what he speaks about.”
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…he is also the candidate talking most directly about the loss of manufacturing jobs to foreign countries…Woodruff, a sometimes Republican, was impressed by Trump…”I think it’s wrong for an American business to move their business out of the United States to keep from paying taxes, but keep us as a marketplace,” Woodruff answered.
Nearly 3,000 people came to see Trump in Birch Run. Some of them had been there for the worst times. “I remember my dad in the late 1970s,” said Holly Gaul, 58. “He was a journeyman electrician. With the things at the time that were going on with GM, he knew his profession was going to be gone. And it was.”
There were jobs, sure, but not the kind people could live on. “Women my age are taking the McDonald’s jobs that the high school kids used to get,” Gaul said. “I’ve been waiting for a stronger president, somebody that I could look up to and respect again. He could stand up to those other countries. It’s wrong when they can build furniture in China and ship it here cheaper than it costs us to build it here.”
“Back when our economy took a dump, I had to go to Afghanistan,” said Bob Parsons, 51. “I had to work there as a product relations manager, just to build our retirement back up. There were no jobs in Michigan to be had. They’re not fair to what’s coming over, as far as the trade goes. For example, 100,000 cars come over here; 5,000 go over there. I like what he says: If they don’t let us send them there, we don’t take their stuff. You wouldn’t believe how many young kids I met in Afghanistan who have their degrees but can’t find jobs at home,” he said. “I compare Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan. He lets people know what he’s going to do, not what to ask for.”
Trump’s America and American interests first outlook appeals not only to union members, but many everyday Americans of all stripes. As Debbie Dooley, a Tea Party co-founder, stated in her endorsement of Trump:
Donald Trump is not accepting big donations from Wall Street or big banks, so he will not be indebted to big donors whose interests sometimes conflict with average Americans. I am convinced Trump will fight for the best interests of Main Street – not Wall Street. He has already stood up during his campaign to the special interests that have corrupted the political process. This was never so evident as during the recent fight over ObamaTrade. At a time when other candidates stood with Wall Street, Trump stood with Main Street and for American jobs. He strongly believes in American exceptionalism and will put American interests first.
Mr. Trump’s been outspoken in his focus on American jobs and manufacturing for a number of years. On Meet the Press in 1999, Trump said of NAFTA, “It’s bad. Really bad. I hate it. I never liked it…If the economy goes down the toilet, the NAFTA will be a disaster for this country.” Trump also told Larry King in 1999 that he opposed NAFTA and added:
No, free trade is a wonderful thing, and I believe in free trade, but, at the same time, it’s got to be fair trade. You look at some of these — I mean, look what Japan does with the cars and the subsidies and everything else, and look at Korea, with the ships and the subsidies they get. I mean, it’s very unfair to this country.
In 2010 Trump went On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, and talked about Newton, Iowa losing its Maytag plant to Mexico, NAFTA, jobs, American manufacturing and its better, safer products, China and currency manipulation. He called out politicians over their inaction and ties to lobbyists, much as he does today, also stating, “Our geniuses gave them incentive to leave this country and go to Mexico. Now, are we running Mexico, or are we running this country? This country has to be rebuilt.”
Also in 2010, Trump again appeared on Larry King.
TRUMP: I think people need jobs. They need work…I’m worried about the politicians always fighting with each other and not fighting China and these other countries that are really just eating our lunch. If you look at what China’s doing to this country, it’s disgraceful.
KING: Doing how?
TRUMP: Well, they make all our products. We’re not manufacturing anything.
KING: And employers with cheap labor, right?
TRUMP: Excuse me, they take our money and loan it back to us. We should be fighting China, we should be fighting OPEC…You look at these countries like China, Japan, India, they’re eating our lunch. If 15 years from now, China’s going to be the most important economic power if we don’t get on the ball…where are the jobs going? They’re going to Mexico. We’re sending our people, our jobs to Mexico…Think of it, we don’t have to make toys in China. We can make them in North Carolina. We can make them in Alabama. We don’t need make toys with lead poisoning all over from China.
Significantly, in 2010 Trump did not just talk about the struggles in Newton. He acted:
David McNeer says after the 60 Minutes report aired, he got calls and text messages from customers, suppliers, and competitors, and a special call from Mr. Trump. “But, I did not get one call from one politician. Not from the City of Newton, not from the County, not from the State, not a U.S. Senator, not a U.S. Congressman. Nobody took five minutes, or three minutes, or five seconds to pick up a phone and give me a call. Hell, they could have done it for a photo-op for god’s sakes, it was two days before the election,” said David McNeer. “But Mr. Trump, out of the goodness of his heart, asked what he could do to help us.”
When Trump jumped into the race for President June 16th, he immediately began ruffling globalists’ feathers, vowing that “one of the early things” he’d do is call “the head of Ford, who I know…Let me give you the bad news: every car, every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a $35 tax—OK?—and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction.” He also reiterated that “[NAFTA’s] a disaster. We will either renegotiate it or we will break it because you know every agreement has an end.”
The timing was precipitous. Just seven weeks earlier, April 21, future House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ted Cruz (formerly the director of the Office of Policy Planning in the Federal Trade Commission during George W. Bush’s administration) had partnered to advocate for trade promotion authority. Senator Jeff Sessions warned the trade deal could lead to a flood of illegals, which was dismissed by TPA advocates as “urban legend” May 5th. Opposition to Obamatrade mounted. June 11th, Senator Jeff Sessions again sounded the alarm over TPA and the TPP trade pact, their implications for jobs, as well as immigration and climate change actions. Cruz and Ryan pushed back, blaming opposition on people “confused” by “misinformation” on the Internet. June 12th, Sarah Palin joined the chorus of voices against Obamatrade. Within days, Trump jumped into the Presidential race, and in keeping with his long held views, said, “The Senate must NOT pass TPA! Any Senator who votes for it is disqualified for being POTUS. Protect the American worker and manufacturer!”
On January 25th, it was announced Senator Jeff Session’s top aide, Stephen Miller, was joining the Trump campaign. As Breitbart reported:
Miller has been critical to Sessions’ efforts fighting open borders immigration plans and amnesty for illegal aliens pushed by the political establishment, and equally critical to Sessions’ key role in the war against open borders trade policies pushed by political elites…Sessions hasn’t formally endorsed any candidate, but he has appeared with Trump at a rally in his hometown in Mobile, Alabama, and helped Trump craft his wildly popular immigration reform policy paper.
Breitbart held an interview with Senator Sessions that same day, where he laid out the fight against Obamatrade and expounded:
“We need to negotiate better,” Sessions said.
So, what I’d say to the people in Iowa: This is a matter of supreme importance that neither party should nominate a candidate who does not oppose this agreement. You can be for trade, you can be for negotiating agreements with countries around the world but not this way and not creating these kinds of transnational commissions that only hamper the United States as we go forward in the decades.
Friday, Sessions urged: “Make sure — because this could be the last chance — that the votes you cast is for a person who is going to, with courage and steadfastness, fix the immigration system that’s so broken and is impacting adversely Americans’ safety, their wages, their hospitals, their schools, those kind of things. And also we need to know with absolute clarity: are you for or against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It must not pass. This may be the last opportunity the American people will have to have their will imposed and create a lawful immigration system that serves the national interest…on these two issues, I think the voters should say, ‘If you’re not going to be right on those, I’m not voting for you in this primary and I’m not going to vote for you as president.’ I really think it’s that important.”
Yesterday in an exclusive statement to Breitbart News, Donald Trump reaffirmed the very reasons so many union members and Americans are taking his candidacy seriously: “Our leaders have negotiated terrible deals that are bleeding this country dry. The TPP is another terrible one-sided deal that rewards offshoring and enriches other countries at our expense. I will stop Hillary’s Obamatrade in its tracks, bringing millions of new voters into the Republican Party. We will move manufacturing jobs back to the United States and we will Make American Great Again.”