“They’re all coming back. Don’t move, don’t sell your house,” Trump said during a 2017 visit to Youngstown, Ohio. “We’re going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build new ones.” It’s the same pledge he made time and again during the 2016 presidential campaign, perhaps most famously about the Carrier plant in Indiana, a “big, beautiful” air-conditioning company Trump vowed to keep in the United States but which later ended up laying off hundreds of workers.
The GM layoffs, then, come as a serious warning to Trump: If he fails to deliver on his promises, he could lose support in a region he needs to win to secure reelection—one that backed a Democratic president as recently as 2012. But that warning is also an opening for Democrats, activists and strategists told me: They’ve got a chance to step in with a compelling, pro-worker economic message of their own.
Trump has “presented us with an opportunity to eat away at the advantage he’s built with these voters,” said Matt Morrison, the executive director of Working America, the political-organizing arm of the AFL-CIO that advocates for progressive policies. “We are going to drive through that opening like a Mack truck … or, I should say, a Chevy Cruze.”