Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called for the U.S. to scale back its trade deals with foreign nations during an invitation-only speech in Manchester yesterday. Trump used a now shuttered light-bulb factory as the backdrop.
As Donald Trump events go, it was a modest affair. Only about 150 supporters sat on folding chairs in a parking lot nestled around back of the former Osram Sylvania plant in Manchester. But as Trump made clear again and again, the setting was the point.
“Very sad when you look at a plant like this, which was so prosperous, had so many years of great success and so many employees working here and now you look at what’s gone on and it’s quite a sad thing.”
Trump even pulled onstage a former employee he identified as Mike, who lost his job when the factory closed in 2014.
“You know this place used to be a place I called home, where my bread and butter was.”
Trump promised to revive manufacturing jobs and blamed the closing of this factory and others like it on poorly negotiated free trade agreements especially by the Clintons and on currency manipulation by other countries.
“And the greatest ever at that is China. Very smart, they’re like grand chess masters and we’re like checker players, but bad ones.”
When the Osram Sylvania plant closed, it took nearly 200 New Hampshire jobs with it. Some of those jobs went to the company's plants in Mexico and China.
But in a statement, Osram Sylvania did not cite international trade agreements as a factor in its decision to close the plant. Instead, the company blamed the closure on reduced demand for the type of older light bulbs made at the facility.
Osram Sylvania still operates plants in Exeter and Hillsboro as well as in other states.
Trump also took questions from supporters at the event, including this one from a woman interested in securing more jobs for veterans.
“Why aren’t we putting our military retirees on that border, or in TSA? Get rid of all these heebeejabis they wear at TSA, I’ve seen them myself. We need the veterans back in there, they fought for this country and defended it, they’ll still do it.
You know, and we are looking at that.”
Trump then quickly pivoted to a discussion of border security before wrapping up his event.