- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2019

President Trump lauded military tank makers in Ohio then praised himself Wednesday, saying he deserved credit for keeping their plant open as he works to lock down swing-state support.

“You better love me, I kept this place open,” the president told cheering workers at the Lima Army Tank Plant, which was spared after Mr. Trump ordered up bigger defense spending.

He contrasted his success in Lima with a General Motors factory across the state in Lordstown, which is shuttering despite his loud complaints.

“What’s going on with General Motors? Get that plant open,” Mr. Trump said, saying the United Automobile Workers union will help out.

He said unions, by and large, are still on his side and labor leaders should “lower their dues.”

Mr. Trump visited the tank factory before whisking off to Canton for fundraisers.

His swing through Ohio — his 10th visit since taking office — highlighted the importance of the state to his re-election hopes.

Ohio is a linchpin of the Rust Belt that propelled Mr. Trump to victory in 2016.

Republicans say their vital signs are strong, citing Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s victory in November, though Democrats can point to Sen. Sherrod Brown’s romp to re-election as a sign of momentum for their side.

The plant workers who watched Mr. Trump’s speech, at least, seemed to be firmly in his corner.

“It’s my personal opinion that God was looking after our country when you were elected,” said boiler operator Jay Baldwin.

Mr. Trump said the factory’s tanks are “thundering down the assembly line” and striking fear in U.S. enemies, before he took credit for the rout of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, claiming the caliphate will be gone “as of tonight.”

He said the tanks will spook China, Russia and other rivals, too, before he reminded workers they owe their jobs to him.

“If it weren’t for me, this place would be closed,” Mr. Trump said.

His success in Lima contrasts with complaints he was too slow to grapple with the closure of the General Motors plant in Lordstown, which went dark earlier this month, leaving 1,700 workers out of a job and raising questions about Mr. Trump’s campaign pledge to keep those jobs alive.

The workers are hoping that another car will be made in town, though for now there is a lot of finger pointing.

Mr. Trump said GM CEO Mary Barra and union President Dave Green of UAW Local 1112 should start negotiating the next steps now, rather than waiting for planned talks in the fall. He also tweeted at Mr. Green, saying he “ought to get his act together.”

Ohio Democrats say Mr. Green has worked around the clock to try to save the planet, and they said the president needs to do more.

Trump has tweeted multiple times about Lordstown’s GM plant closing,” Mr. Brown’s campaign said in a fundraising email Wednesday. “But what did those tweets accomplish? Nothing. Not a single worker went back to their job and not a single family gained certainty about their next paycheck.”

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