President Donald Trump touted the nation’s strong economy and urged Congress to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement during a speech at Derco Aerospace in Milwaukee.
In his sixth visit to the state since taking office, Trump touched on issues ranging from Chinese tariffs on American crops to the 2017 GOP tax bill to increased investments in the U.S. military. But while the president jumped from topic to topic, the theme of rebuilding the economy underlined the address.
Trump repeatedly knocked his predecessors during a roughly 35-minute long address. He charged they signed trade deals that “allowed our factories to close and our workers to go, to not have jobs.”
“Millions and millions of jobs were lost during, I call them the stupid years, but now we’re back into the really smart years,” he said.
He labeled the old North American Free Trade Agreement as “one of the world’s worst trade deals ever” and called on lawmakers to “stop playing around” and take up USMCA, his proposed replacement. But he added that with a presidential election rapidly approaching, its odds of passage dwindle by the day.
Reports from Washington indicate House Dems are unwilling to consider the deal without additions to address enforcement, labor, environmental standards and drug pricing.
State Dem Chair Ben Wikler said Trump knows Wisconsin is key to his re-election next year, but vowed the state will put an end to his presidency “once and for all.”
“But for Wisconsin families, Trump’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster — he’s jacked up their health care costs, raised their taxes to give handouts to wealthy corporations, and pitted Wisconsinites against each other for his own political gain,” Wikler said. “He’s spearheading a lawsuit right now that could rip away health care from millions of Wisconsinites.”
Ahead of the appearance at Derco Aerospace, Trump attended a luncheon fundraiser at the home of Katherine “Murph” Burke — widow of developer John Burke Jr. — in Fox Point, a Milwaukee suburb. An RNC spokeswoman said the event to benefit Trump Victory, a joint fundraising effort with the national party to include 180 attendees, was expected to raise $3 million.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, traveled with the president aboard Air Force One from Washington, D.C. U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, said he didn’t attend the Milwaukee event with the House in session to vote on a defense policy bill. U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, joined Steil in voting against the Dem defense bill, missing the president’s Milwaukee stop.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, Muskego Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti and Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, greeted the president on the tarmac. Trump then hailed supporters gathered at the airport, shaking hands, taking pictures and even signing a high-heeled shoe.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers said he hadn’t received an invitation from the White House to greet the president at the airport, and he was in Massachusetts for a Democratic Governors Association meeting when Trump landed in Wisconsin.
An official in Scott Walker’s administration said President Obama didn’t formally invite the former guv to greet him when flying into Wisconsin. Still, the White House would provide advance notice of a trip, and Walker’s office would then work with the president’s detail to arrange a greeting.
Before leaving Washington, Trump again lashed out at former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was critical of the president in a new book.
After knocking Ryan, R-Janesville, on Twitter Thursday night, Trump told reporters Ryan “was not a talent. He was no leader.” Among other things, he charged Ryan “wouldn’t get subpoenas,” while current Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, “hands them out like they’re cookies.”
He also said Ryan was unable to raise money even though the former congressman broke fundraising records for a speaker while in office. His campaign put out a memo last fall noting he raised and transferred $50 million to the NRCC during the 2018 cycle and sent $100 million to the committee during his time as speaker.
Trump also continued to claim that Ryan was “booed off the stage” by a crowd of 10,000 people after the president introduced him at an event in Wisconsin. During a December 2016 stop in West Allis, the crowd booed Ryan after Trump mentioned him. But he compared Ryan to a “fine wine” at the time, saying he appreciated the lawmaker’s “genius more and more.”
“He was a baby,” Trump said today. “He didn’t know what the hell he was doing.”