Politics

Bloomberg Campaign Blasts Trump for Promising Valley New Manufacturing Jobs

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As reporters and supporters of presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg filed into 237 E. Front St., where the former New York City mayor opened his Mahoning Valley headquarters this week, the remains of the vandalism that had taken place overnight were still visible.

Sheets of wood with painted with the words “Stop and Frisk” and “Oligarch” leaned against the front of the building, their messages now turned toward the structure. Yards of yellow caution tape remained draped in the trees on either side.

The Youngstown office, which will cover a five-county region, is one of 12 Bloomberg is opening in Ohio. So far the campaign has about 90 staff in the state.

The vandalism, which was committed overnight, went unaddressed during the formal presentation by Bloomberg surrogate Greg Fischer, the mayor of Louisville, Ky., although he responded to questions about the incident when it ended.

Bloomberg campaign headquarters in downtown Youngstown as it looked early this morning when the overnight vandalism became visible.

“We have an incredible infrastructure across the state,” said Meredith Tucker, Ohio communications director for the Bloomberg campaign. “The Valley is an incredibly important part of the state but we have offices in every corner of the state.”

Fischer, national co-chairman of the Bloomberg campaign, was at the local headquarters to tell reporters how President Donald Trump has failed to keep the promises he made when running for president and after he was elected, and to tout Bloomberg’s qualifications as he seeks he Democratic Party’s nomination.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump targeted working-class voters in the Mahoning Valley by promising he “would revitalize manufacturing in this community and communities like this all over America,” Fischer said. At a July 2017 rally at the Covelli Centre – only yards from where Fisher was speaking – the president “doubled down” and again promised manufacturing jobs would return to the region, and famously advised his audience not to sell their houses and move from the area.

“Everybody knows what came next,” Fischer continued – the announcement by General Motors Corp. that it would cease production of the Chevrolet Cruze in March 2019.

“You have to know manufacturing to know how people feel who work in manufacturing plants,” he said. Hearing that kind of closing announcement is “a gut punch that’s really hard to recover from.”

That was compounded by another “broken promise” this week, when Trump’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget eliminated the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, which helps companies retool facilities to build electric vehicles.

Lordstown Motors Corp., a startup that plans to manufacture electric pickup trucks at the former GM plant, is looking at a $200 million loan from the program, although a company spokesman said its business model “stands on its own without it.”

The decision to axe the program “takes the Trump administration’s negligence even a step farther,” and leaves people shaking their heads, unsure of what to do, Fischer said.

“People are looking for someone with a track record for keeping promises and doing what they say they’re going to do,” he continued. “The manufacturing folks of America, especially right here in the Mahoning Valley, they’re fighters. so they need somebody that’s going to fight for them and be all in for them.”

Bloomberg, is “a real businessman” who knows how to create jobs, Fischer said. After losing his job at age 39, he had an idea for the company that has grown into “one of the world’s great global companies,” he said. “He’s the un-Trump.”

Bloomberg then moved into politics and ran for mayor of New York City, serving for three terms and bringing the city “back from the ashes” of Sept. 11, 2001. He subsequently established Bloomberg Philanthropies to donate money from his estimated $61 billion wealth to causes such as the climate, gun safety, women’ rights and immigration.

As president, Bloomberg’s priorities would include investing billions on infrastructure, research and education, “all the things that have been demonstrated to create this type of success,” Fisher said. The United States needs someone “skilled enough” in the office of the president who focuses on meat-and-potato issues “instead of the latest tweet or the latest controversy.”

Additionally, the Louisville mayor criticized Trump’s decision to divert funds for congressionally approved national defense projects to fund his proposed wall at the southern border. This week, the president called for taking money that had been allocated for new C-130J aircraft that bipartisan members of Ohio’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan and Bill Johnson and U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, are seeking for Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

Portman, R-Ohio, said in an emailed statement Friday he has long supported Trump’s plan to better secure the U.S.-Mexico border and help stop the flow of illegal drugs coming into the United States. He disagrees with diverting Department of Defense funds that have been authorized and appropriated by Congress for national defense priorities, which include the four new C-130Js he is seeking to have assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing at YARS.  

“Our military facilities and service members in Ohio and across the nation depend on this defense funding and I will continue to fight — as I have done in the past — to have those funds come to Ohio installations,” he said.

Late Friday, an email from Trump Victory, a joint effort between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee to elect Republicans up and down the ballot, cited the creation of 500,000 manufacturing jobs since Trump’s election, including 15,200 in Ohio.

The campaign predicted that the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement – a successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement that requires that 75% of automotive content be made in North America – would create 176,000 jobs nationwide, add $68.2 billion to the U.S. economy, and raise wages.

It also pointed out that Lordstown Motors has yet to apply for the ATVM loan, and dismissed Bloomberg as a billionaire “having nothing in common with hard-working Ohioans.”

Graffiti on one of the signs left at the Bloomberg headquarters building targets one of the more controversial aspects of his tenure as mayor. Under “stop and frisk,” New York City police would detain, question and search individuals for weapons and other items, a practice found to disproportionately target blacks and Latinos.

“Stop and frisk” was “the best practice at the time,” Fischer said at Friday’s press event. Before the end of his term as mayor, Bloomberg reduced its application by 95% and incarceration of young men and boys of color decreased 40%. He also said he doesn’t expect the policy to become an issue with the voting public.

“Not if they get informed,” he said. “What I love about Mike is the heart that he’s had for people. So when you see all of the mayors that are getting behind Mike, including the black mayors of America, it’s because we know him and we know the full story of ‘stop and frisk.’”

Fischer described the vandalism at the campaign office here as a sign that opponents are concerned about growing enthusiasm for Bloomberg’s campaign. “People that have different points of view – which is a natural in politics – are going to try to distract from the real issues,” the surrogate said. “In a strange way, it puts a spotlight on us. It helps us even more.”

Among those attending the Friday morning news conference were Jaladah Aslam, regional director for the Bloomberg campaign; Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti; and City Council President DeMaine Kitchen

Other campaigns are ignoring Youngstown, Rimedio-Righetti said.

“They don’t see the needs of our city and our county.”

Pictured at top: The mayor of Louisville, Ky., Greg Fischer, national co-chairman of the Mike Bloomberg campaign, holds a news conference. Behind him are Youngstown City Council President DeMaine Kitchen, field organizers Shienne Williams and Bria Bennet, volunteer Bernadette Pernotto, and Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.