Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at MBS International Airport, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Freeland, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at MBS International Airport, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Freeland, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Michiganders could be surprised to hear President Donald Trump brought “so many damn car plants” to the state, since more plants have idled under his administration. 

FREELAND, MI — President Donald Trump came to Michigan hot on the heels of his opponent Democratic nominee Joe Biden as September set off a 60-day countdown to Election Day. While Trump’s push to resume college sports and his refusal of Michigan’s request for National Guard funding grabbed the spotlight, there were also less obvious but equally important moments Michiganders took note of. 

We’ve rounded up what else happened in Freeland. 

Creating Jobs by Making Them Up

Making his pitch to Michigan voters, Trump said Michiganders “better vote for” him because he brought the state automotive plants. But the Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan, in total, actually lost plants—with multiple going idle and only one new plant opening.

“I got you so many damn car plants,” Trump told his audience. “I got you a lot of plants! Is that right? Have you seen what we’re doing here? All the plants that have been built, are being built, and what about the plants that are being expanded? They don’t want to give you credit for that. They’re just expanding.”

READ MORE: Michigan Auto Workers Know Recession. Here’s What They Say They Need Now.

As the Free Press explained, however, they are not. And that makes yet another in a long series of claims to have benefitted the auto industry that have been found untrue by fact checkers. 

The Washington Post gave a Four Pinnochio rating to Trump for claims that auto plants in battleground states have expanded “at a level that we’ve never seen before.” The Post found that, in fact, that auto manufacturing investments have dropped sharply under the Trump administration. 

A Superspreader Rally

Joe Biden held a rally Sept. 9, one day before Trump, also in Michigan, also highlighting the auto industry. One of the most dramatic differences between the rallies wasn’t even the messaging, however — it was the pandemic. 

Biden’s event was held to a limited audience, all of whom were in personal protective equipment and maintaining social distancing. Between each speaker, the podium was sanitized. That was a stark contrast to Trump’s general admission rally in Freeland. 

MLive reports that Trump supporters camped out overnight the evening before Trump’s speech, and over the course of the day leading up to Trump’s 7 p.m. address his supporters began to mass, holding a tailgate in the venue’s parking lot. 

RELATED: Nearly 40,000 MSU Students to Quarantine Following Major Spike From Student Parties

The crowd grew to hundreds, and eventually thousands, over the course of the day, few of whom wore masks and fewer still observed social distancing. This disappointed national health officials.

“Imagine you were an alien who landed on Planet Earth, and you saw that our planet was afflicted by an infectious disease and that masks were an effective way to prevent the spread, and yet when you went around you saw some people not wearing them, and some people wearing them, and you tried to figure out why, and it turned out, it was their political party,” National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins told CNN. “And you would scratch your head and think, ‘This is not a planet that has much promise for the future, if something that is so straightforward can somehow get twisted into decision making that really makes no sense.’”

Francis Collins

Tuesday, Sept. 16, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cautioned that Trump rallies like the one in Freeland have the potential to act as superspreader events for the coronavirus, especially in light of the refusal to engage in practices that mitigate the virus’ spread. 

“They fly in the face of the best science,” she said. “They fly in the face of what the president has acknowledged to Bob Woodward he knew when he was out tweeting ‘liberate Michigan.’”

Silencing the Alarm

In now-deleted tweets, New York Times reporter Kathy Gray showed that lack of pandemic preparedness, tweeting there were not many masks among the thousands of attendees. 

Shortly thereafter, she tweeted that the Trump campaign used her pictures sent to Twitter to figure out where she was in the crowd and remove her from the event because they were displeased with her live tweets from the ground. 

“I’ve just been kicked out of the trump rally,” Gray wrote. “First for me: Trump campaign tracked me down from pics I tweeted and escorted me out.”

NEXT UP: What You Need to Know About Registering to Vote in Michigan

That story, archived thanks to the Detroit Metro Times among others,  was elaborated upon by the Trump campaign, who told the Hill that Gray would have been welcomed to stay, so long as she did not report on the event. 

“We’re disappointed that the Trump campaign refused to credential our freelancer,” a New York Times spokesperson said in a statement. “Our goal is to cover these campaign events and talk to voters about the candidates, and that’s what Kathy was trying to do.”

This fits another larger pattern of Trump’s, casting an independent press as an “enemy of the people.”