CLYDE -- President Trump will be about 55 miles away from Mansfield on Thursday when he visits the Whirlpool factory in Clyde.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) confirmed via email the visit to the washing machine plant, saying Whirlpool is one of the manufacturers that needed a level playing field against foreign competition.
It would be Trump's first trip to Ohio since the coronavirus pandemic caused a statewide shutdown and curtailed the president’s travel schedule. The Sandusky County factory is considered the largest washing machine plant in the world.
According to a recent poll, Trump tails Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by four points in the Buckeye state. Biden has not yet visited Ohio during the campaign with election day less than 100 days away.
Trump won Ohio against Hillary Clinton by eight percentage points in 2016, but the state has become a battleground again due to the impact of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic fallout that has left the state still with an unemployment rate of 11 percent in June.
The Sandusky County jobless rate spiked to more than 25 percent during the height of the state-ordered COVID-19 shutdown this spring. It was at 10 percent in June.
Trump, who will be in Cleveland for a campaign fundraiser on the same day, will give a speech highlighting his efforts to revitalize and support America’s manufacturing sector.
Portman said Whirlpool has 3,000 workers in Clyde and 10,000 around the state. Whirlpool has nine manufacturing facilities in the United States, including five in Ohio -- Clyde, Findlay, Greenville, Marion and Ottawa.
The company is headquartered in Benton Charter Township, Mich.
“I’m pleased that President Trump will be visiting the world-class workforce at Whirlpool’s Clyde factory. Since I joined the Senate in 2011, I’ve successfully fought to level the playing field for Whirlpool’s workers to ensure they can effectively compete with their foreign competitors," Portman said in his email.
"Over the years, I’ve testified before the International Trade Commission four times to combat unfair foreign trading practices.
“Unfortunately as Whirlpool won cases against unfairly traded washing machines, foreign trade cheats moved production to other countries to avoid paying the tariffs. First, production moved from Korea and Mexico to China and then to Vietnam and Thailand," Portman said.
"This whack-a-mole approach was unsustainable, which is why I supported Whirlpool’s safeguard case to impose global tariffs on washing machines. In response to my testimony at the ITC, I was pleased that the ITC approved, and President Trump authorized, the safeguard in 2017, and since those tariffs went into effect Whirlpool has increased their investment in their workers and American production," he said.