Fishermen, dairy farmers and businessmen from key swing states vouched for President Trump late Tuesday, saying his get-tough trade policies and focus on blue-collar workers thawed their cold skepticism of Washington leadership and, in some cases, the idea of a Trump candidacy four years ago.
Jason Joyce, an eighth-generation resident of Swan’s Island, Maine, said Mr. Trump was “fearless” in helping lobster fishermen.
“I have to confess: I didn’t support Trump in 2016. Skeptical that he shared my conservative views, I expected him to flip flop on his campaign promises. But he has followed through on his promises,” Mr. Joyce said on day two of the Republican National Convention.
Last week, the administration and European Union reached a deal to zero out tariffs on live and frozen lobsters from the U.S. Mr. Joyce also credited Mr. Trump with keeping the fishing industry at the table when it comes to environmental protection and where fisherman can cast their nets.
“As long as Trump is president, fishing families like mine will have a voice,” Mr. Joyce said.
Mr. Trump is eyeing pickups in Maine after he won a single electoral vote there in 2016 compared to three for Hillary Clinton.
Farmers are also a key voting bloc for Mr. Trump, who frequently touts his efforts to give them better terms with Canada and efforts to bail them out after his trade war caused instability in the agricultural sector.
Cris Peterson, a farmer in swing-state Wisconsin, said new trade deals gave her family the confidence to rebuild a barn and milking center that burned down. She credited trade policies that boosted prices and the robust economy for allowing her family
“More than any president, he has acknowledged the importance of farmers and agriculture. That support and focus on negotiating new trade deals gave us the confidence to rebuild our barn and dairy operation,” Mrs. Peterson said.
She said the COVID-19 crisis brought new trouble but that Mr. Trump offered “the supports we needed” to weather the pandemic.
Mr. Trump’s sweeping deregulation program also featured in the testimonials.
John Peterson, CEO of president of Schuette Metals, thanked Mr. Trump for ending “draconian banking regulations,” cutting taxes and revamping trade deals.
“By getting rid of the job-killing NAFTA and negotiating the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, President Trump ensured a more competitive playing field for American companies like ours,” Mr. Peterson, of Wisconsin, said. “Because he knows when the game isn’t rigged against us, nobody can beat the American worker and the American entrepreneur.”
Wisconsin was key to Mr. Trump’s victory in 2016, with Democrats faulting Mrs. Clinton for not dedicating more resources to the state.
Bob Vlaisavljevich, a “life-long Democrat” and the mayor of Eveleth, Minnesota, said the prior administration showed too much deference to China and environmentalists.
“We lost a generation of young people who had to move out of the area to find a livelihood,” he said.
He said when Mr. Trump burst onto the scene, and though he was a rich guy from New York City, “he talked like one of us.”
“I am happy to say that after decades of despair, the Iron Range is roaring back to life and we have one man to thank: President Donald Trump. He has made good on all of his campaign promises, and then some. He has fought to give us a fair chance to compete.”
Minnesota is a key prize for the president. He lost the state by about 45,000 votes in 2016.