Dems are criticizing Gov. Scott Walker for not directly addressing President Trump’s broadside against Harley-Davidson, including the threat to tax the Wisconsin company “like never before.”
The president’s comments followed the company’s announcement that it planned to move production overseas of motorcycles bound for Europe. That move was in response to tariffs the European Union placed on U.S. motorcycles following Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.
Following Trump’s tweets Tuesday, a Walker spokeswoman said the guv believes there should be “no tariffs or trade barriers as the President stated earlier this month at the G7 summit.” The spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the statement on the heart of Trump’s claims, including that moving production overseas “will be the beginning of the end.”
Walker, who owns a Harley-Davidson, has long featured the motorcycle in his campaign events, including scenes of him riding it in the rollout video to officially launch his re-election bid. Similar to his spokeswoman’s comment, Walker tweeted today, “At the G7, the @POTUS suggested they consider no tariffs. That’s the right answer for WI companies and farmers. No tariffs.”
Trump’s knocks on Harley-Davidson come as he prepares to visit Wisconsin for a groundbreaking ceremony at the Foxconn plant in Racine County on Thursday and attend a fundraiser that morning.
Dems pushed Walker to take a stronger stance in defense of the Milwaukee icon.
“Still going to Trump fundraiser the day of the ground breaking? How is that defending #HarleyDavison jobs? Seem to me your attendance says you’re on with Trump threatening a Wisconsin company,” Dem state Sen. Jon Erpenbach tweeted.
Walker’s potential Dem guv challengers also knocked the response.
State Superintendent Tony Evers demanded to know if Walker would attend the fundraiser after Trump “threatened a Wisconsin business.”
Walker’s campaign confirmed he will attend the fundraiser.
Meanwhile, Mahlon Mitchell, head of the statewide firefighters union, said, “Walker’s silence as Donald Trump destroys family-supporting, union jobs is proof he is derelict in his duty as chief executive.”
During a meeting with members of Congress Tuesday, Trump told reporters he’s been “very good to Harley-Davidson.”
Trump said the company is using the tariffs as an “excuse” to move production overseas.
“And I think the people that ride Harleys are not happy with Harley-Davidson, and I wouldn’t be either,” Trump said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
Harley-Davidson did not respond to requests for comment on Trump’s slams, but labor unions representing its workers say the company should refocus on U.S. manufacturing.
Robert Martinez Jr., international president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, says Harley-Davidson’s decision to shift some production overseas “leaves us with more questions than answers.”
“If the EU rescinds its tariffs, will Harley drop its plans to offshore more production? This is looking like just another excuse by Harley to justify moving more American jobs offshore,” Martinez said.
He added: “Harley workers are left wondering if Harley is still committed to manufacturing in America.”
Michael Bolton, District 2 director for United Steelworkers, says “we cannot speculate” on how Harley’s announcement could affect employment in the United States. However, he says domestic sales drive production and employment at Harley’s U.S. facilities.
“The company built its reputation and image by making motorcycles here, and if the company wants to continue to market itself as an iconic American brand both at home and abroad, it needs to focus on U.S. production,” Bolton said.