MOUNT PLEASANT — President Donald Trump, speaking at an event following Foxconn’s groundbreaking here Thursday, warned Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson to not “get cute with us” and to continue building motorcycles in the United States.
“Harley-Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA, please. O.K.?” Trump said. “Don’t get cute with us. Don’t get cute.”
Trump over the last several days has been knocking Harley-Davidson over its plans to offshore some production to skirt retaliatory tariffs from the European Union in response to Trump’s tariffs on foreign aluminum, steel and other products.
He also repeated comments he made over Twitter that customers won’t be happy with Harley-Davidson’s offshoring plans.
“Build them in the USA,” Trump said. “Your customers won’t be happy if you don’t. I’ll tell you that.”
Trump, speaking at the Foxconn Opus Building in Mount Pleasant, defended the tariffs he’s enacted, saying shuttered U.S steel mills are already coming back on line.
He also vowed to work out trade deals with other nations in order to reduce America’s trade deficit.
“We want to have a fair and balanced situation,” Trump said.
On Foxconn, Trump praised the company’s planned $10 billion investment, which he called the “eighth wonder of the world,” and said it is only one piece of the accelerating growth in the U.S. economy.
“Today’s groundbreaking is only one part of the exciting story taking place across our entire nation,” Trump said.
But Democrats this morning tore into the project given news the factory, at least initially, is slated to be smaller than originally planned.
“The Foxconn deal is really about helping Scott Walker get reelected. At $3.5 billion this is the single biggest public campaign donation in history,” said state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay.
In addition to praising Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, Trump also heaped compliments on Gov. Scott Walker.
He said after talking with Gou about investing in America, he handed the ball to Walker.
“He ran for about 2,000 yards in one game,” he said. “He’s a special talent.”
After offering the praise, Trump quipped he hoped his 2016 primary challenger wouldn’t run against him in 2020.
“I hope he doesn’t run against me, because that comment will come back to haunt me,” Trump said
Ahead of the ceremony, Dems released video recounting the series of slams Trump directed at Walker as the guv mounted his bid for the presidency in 2015, including that “Wisconsin’s doing terribly.”
Gou, before Trump spoke, said the investment in Wisconsin wouldn’t have happened without Trump.
“If it was not for your president, Donald Trump, I would not be here today,” Gou said, adding that Trump is “one of the few leaders who has showed me such patience, attention and support.”
Walker, during his remarks, emphasized the up to 13,000 direct jobs Foxconn plans to create, along with an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 indirect that could develop due to Foxconn’s presence.
He also noted the 10,000 construction jobs the project will create, and noted firms have been hired from 60 of the state’s 72 counties to help build the facility.
Walker said the facility will help retain and attract young people to the state.
“This will make us a brain gain state, not a brain drain state,” Walker said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, also spoke at the ceremony, saying the economy is healthy and on the rise, and manufacturers in America are hiring and increasing wages.
“Wisconsin is leading this story,” Ryan said. “This story right here, of Foxconn, it’s the most vivid picture of what a strong and healthy economy looks like. It’s the most vivid picture of a state on the rise in a country with a healthy economy.”
Before his remarks, Trump participated in a groundbreaking at the nearby Foxconn development site. He then toured a manufacturing and technology display housed in the same building where he delivered his speech. The display included a scale model of Foxconn’s planned campus. According to a White House pool report, Trump called it an “incredible achievement for Wisconsin” and said the products to be made are like nothing that’s ever been built in the U.S.