Trump hails economy at factory site


Associated Press

MT. PLEASANT, Wis.

President Donald Trump highlighted his economic policies Thursday at the groundbreaking for a massive $10 billion FoxConn factory complex that may bring thousands of jobs to Wisconsin, a state he barely carried in the 2016 presidential election. At the same time, Trump kept up his running feud with an iconic American company based in the state.

“America is open for business more than it has ever been open for business. Made in the USA: It’s all happening and it’s happening very, very quickly,” Trump thundered after visiting the future FoxConn factory in Wisconsin. “Today we’re seeing the results of the pro-America agenda. America First, Make America Great Again. Greatest phrase ever used in politics, I suspect.”

Trump’s celebration in the Badger State came against a backdrop of less-rosy economic news: Harley-Davidson recently announced it is moving some motorcycle production overseas to avoid European Union tariffs that are a product of Trump’s escalating trade dispute with longstanding U.S. allies.

The president was irked by the Milwaukee-based company’s announcement this week and tweeted about it for three straight days, writing that any shift in production “will be the beginning of the end” for the American manufacturer and even threatening retaliatory taxes.

Trump diverted from his upbeat message Thursday to work in a message to the motorcycle manufacturer.

“Harley-Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the U.S. Build them in the USA. Don’t get cute with us. Don’t get cute,” Trump said Thursday. “I spent a lot of time with them. Build them in the USA. Your customers won’t be happy if you don’t.”

Earlier, in a local television interview, Trump said he was “disappointed” in the iconic motorcycle manufacturer.

Trump highlighted FoxConn’s investment in the U.S. as statistics show an overall decline in the purchase or construction of factories and facilities in America by foreign companies.

Such investment fell 40 percent last year after hitting record levels in 2015 and 2016, according to U.S. government data analyzed by the Organization for International Investment. The organization represents large overseas companies such as Toyota, Nestle and Sony. Foreign investment remained weak in the first three months of 2018.

Trump’s speech – as his speeches often do – meandered from topic to topic, including riffs about his responsibility to pick a new Supreme Court justice, his close relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and talk that his 2020 campaign hats will bear the slogan “Keep America Great!” and perhaps be colored green, “representing cash,” instead of 2016’s trademark red.

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