MADISON, Wis. (AP) - President Donald Trump planned to tout his call to “buy American and hire American” during a stop at the headquarters of a Wisconsin-based tool manufacturer that sees the visit as a chance to highlight the importance of manufacturing to the nation’s future.
Trump’s stop at the world headquarters of Snap-on Inc. comes as the president faces an approval rating of just 41 percent in Wisconsin, a state he barely won in November. The visit also takes him to the congressional district of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who won’t be joining the president because he’s on a bipartisan congressional trip overseas visiting NATO countries.
Trump plans to use the visit to talk about his pro-worker agenda, his spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters during a White House briefing.
“Snap-on is a prime example of a company that builds American made tools with American workers, for U.S. taxpayers,” Spicer said.
Snap-on said in a statement that Trump’s visit is “an encouraging development in highlighting the essential nature of American manufacturing to our nation’s future.”
Snap-on was founded in Wisconsin in 1920 and is a $3.4 billion company listed on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. Its products include hand and power tools, diagnostics software, information and management systems, and shop equipment for use in a variety of industries, including agriculture, the military and aviation.
Snap-on’s headquarters are in Kenosha but its nearest manufacturing facility is in Milwaukee, about 40 miles north. According to the company’s website, it has eight manufacturing sites in North America, including the one in Wisconsin. The company employs about 11,000 people worldwide.
Manufacturing jobs are one of the largest drivers of Wisconsin’s economy, accounting for about 16 percent of the state’s total workforce.
The trip to Snap-on, which makes tools and automotive diagnostics equipment, will mark Trump’s first visit to Wisconsin as president. He last came in mid-December as part of his victory tour.
Trump had planned to visit a Harley-Davidson Inc. factory in Menomonee Falls in February, but the stop was canceled amid concerns over planned protests. Liberal groups were organizing a protest around Trump’s visit. According to the event’s Facebook page, more than 180 people had indicated by Monday afternoon that they planned to attend.
Trump carried Wisconsin in November by nearly 23,000 votes - less than a percentage point - making him the first Republican to win the state since 1984. Trump campaigned on the promise of returning manufacturing jobs that have been lost in Wisconsin and other similar upper Midwest states.
Martha Laning, chairwoman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, accused Trump of being “full of empty promises” on the economy and job creation.
“We are going to hold him accountable to the promises he made,” Laning said. “We don’t even see the glimmer of an agenda from him.”
Wisconsin’s unemployment is at a 17-year low, but neighboring states have been adding jobs at a higher rate.
“President Trump needs to really respond,” Laning said. “Here in Wisconsin we have far too many people who are living in poverty and not finding those jobs that will pay them a living wage.”
Trump will be joined by a number of high-profile Wisconsin Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Gov. Scott Walker. Kenosha is also the hometown of Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Walker said he looked forward to talking privately with Trump about a trade issue that’s been hurting dairy farmers both in Wisconsin and New York.
Canada has decided to impose duties on imports of ultra-filtered milk, used in cheese-making, which had been duty free until Canadian milk producers objected. The change has left about 75 Wisconsin dairy farmers with no place to sell their milk, a problem that Walker and others have been pressing the Trump administration to address.
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