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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”