Trump makes ‘wildly inaccurate’ claims about building Michigan car plants that have been repeatedly debunked

President has made claim his entire term, but fact-checking groups have shot it down each time

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Friday 11 September 2020 14:52
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Donald Trump made more false statements Thursday night as he tried to convince voters in Michigan to help give him a second term, claiming he has revived the car-manufacturing industry there even though it lost jobs under his watch – even before the coronavirus shutdown.

"We brought you a lot of car plants, we brought you a lot ... and we're going to bring you a lot more," the president told a rowdy crowd at an airport rally in Saginaw County, which he narrowly won four years ago and needs to hold in November's election.

He has made such a claim before. It was quickly shot down by independent fact-checking organisations.

"We have companies moving in, car companies moving in," Mr Trump said during a visit to South Korean in late June 2019. "In particular, car companies. We hadn't had a plant built in years – in decades, actually. And now we have many plants being built all throughout the United States."

But PolitiFact almost immediately shot down the claim.

"We decided to look at what's been going on with car plants, and if it's been decades since a new one was started. The full story is that the turnaround is less clear cut than he said, especially when plant closures are folded in," the nonpartisan group said.

At that time, Mr Trump "said the United States hadn't seen a new car 'plant built in years – in decades, actually. And now we have many plants being built all throughout the United States,'" the group noted. "It's unclear if Trump included plants that make engines and other components, but that type of investment has been fairly steady over the years, which runs counter to his point about new plants coming after decades of no activity.

Last year, PolitiFact concluded this: "Overall, Trump painted a picture of a turnaround that the facts don't support. We rate his claim Mostly False."

After his Thursday night remarks, the Detroit Free Press called his rally claims "wildly inaccurate."

The newspaper noted there has been just one new major facility, a Jeep factory on Detroit's east side, announced during his term. It also pointed to General Motors announcing under his watch that it would freeze production at four US plants, including two in the Great Lakes State.

Of those two, the Detroit-Hamtramck factory, has been refitted to manufacture electric cars and sport utility vehicles. A Warren, Michigan, factory was brought back online recently to make face masks, but its auto freeze remains in effect.

But only one new major assembly facility, a Jeep plant on Detroit's east side, has been announced during Trump's term, while General Motors underwent a divisive 40-day strike last year and announced the idling of four U.S. plants, including two in Michigan. One of those, Detroit-Hamtramck, has since been revived and is being retooled to build electric cars and SUVs. Warren transmission was revived most recently to make face masks, though its future is uncertain.

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