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What will Donald Trump say as he kicks off his 2020 campaign tonight in Ohio? - News - The Columbus Dispatch


The president launches his campaign in 2020 in Toledo against the backdrop of a violent confrontation with Iran and impeachment.

When Donald Trump holds his first 2020 re-election rally tonight in Toledo, what will he say?

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The speech is likely to get worldwide scrutiny to see what Trump says about Iran. He gave a relatively restrained response Wednesday at the White House to an Iranian missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq the previous night. But he’s seldom been known for restraint during campaign rallies.

The speech also is slated to occur hours after the Democrat-controlled U.S. House considers a move to limit Trump’s Iran response through a war powers resolution.

And the Ohio talk comes against the backdrop of impeachment, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi waits to send formal articles to the Senate, and the upper chamber finalizes rules on a trial that presumably will occur later this month.

Kicking off his election year campaign in bellwether Ohio poses special risks to a president who isn’t shy about touting what he sees as his accomplishments. A few topics he’s likely to discuss:

• Jobs

While Trump can legitimately cite many numbers that show the economy is robust, job creation in Ohio is not one of them. The official tally later this month is expected to show that the state lost jobs in 2019, the state’s worst year since it started adding jobs in 2010 after the end of the Great Recession.

Ohio has fewer jobs today than it did in the year 2000. Currently, job growth in Ohio ranks 39th out of 50 states, according to the Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University.

One way that Trump backers come up with higher jobs numbers is to count those created in the final two and-a-half months of President Barack Obama’s tenure. The reasoning is that the mere news of Trump’s victory sparked the economy, and thus adding those generated from Election Day 2016 through when Trump took office Jan. 20, 2017, is justified.

Trump’s team considers that such an approach is proper “considering that there were some folks, including reports from the Columbus Dispatch, New York Times, Politico and others that said Trump’s election would cause the economy to take a hit and the stock market to crash,” said the Trump campaign’s Ohio press secretary, Daniel Lusheck. “It is clear that public reaction to his election was a driving economic factor in November 2016.”

• Fuyao expansion

This week, the world’s largest auto glassmaker announced that 100 more jobs are coming to a former GM plant near Dayton. Trump campaign officials heralded the event, crediting the president.

“Today’s announcement of 100 new jobs and a $46 million investment by Chinese company Fuyao— the largest by a Chinese company in Ohio — shows that President Trump’s policies toward China and Governor DeWine’s leadership are creating new opportunities for Ohioans,” Lusheck said.

Left unmentioned was the fact that the initial purchase of the shuttered plant in Moraine by the Chinese firm and the addition of several hundred jobs came under Obama. The company already had invested more than $500 million in Ohio, DeWine himself noted at Monday’s announcement.

The governor’s office noted: “Fuyao first invested in Moraine in 2014, committing to create 800 jobs for its Original Equipment Manufacturer customers. In 2015, it committed to create 750 additional jobs to manufacture after-market glass. Today, the company has 2,300 associates at the plant.”

• Toledo-area economy

As in the rest of the state, jobs are down in the Toledo area, dropping 3,000 (0.1%) from November 2018 to November 2019, the latest statistics available from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Democrats already are pushing back on what they say are Trump’s failed promises. Most frequently cited was his July 2017 advice in Youngstown: “Those jobs (that) have left Ohio, they’re coming back. They’re all coming back. Don’t move, don’t sell your house.”

Less than two years later, GM shut down its nearby Lordstown production facility. A new company is setting up shop in the sprawling plant, but is not offering anything close to the jobs that were there before.

In a September 2016 visit to Toledo, Trump promised “a new dawn for the American worker.”

He predicted: “New factories will come rushing onto our shores … we will make American very, very wealthy again.”

The last time Trump appeared at the downtown Huntington Center venue was in July 2016. It was the same day he had urged Russia to uncover missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s private computer server and publicly release them.

“If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I’d love to see them,” Trump said. He did not repeat that request in Ohio.

The response of Clinton’s campaign seems eerie in light of the current impeachment proceedings: “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.”

drowland@dispatch.com

@darreldrowland

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