WAUKESHA, Wis. — Republican Donald Trump took a big swing at critical Midwestern swing states Wednesday by promising to unravel current trade agreements and return jobs that were lost overseas.
“The large corporations who support terrible trade deals . . . they contribute big, big money” to Hillary Clinton, Trump said.
“Follow the money,” he said, using the phrase from the Watergate scandal in the Republican Nixon White House in the 1970s.
“On Nov. 8, we are going to win this state. We are going to win back the White House. We are going to make America great again, believe me,” Trump said to cheers.
He said his philosophy is simple: “Jobs, jobs, jobs . . . there is nothing like a good job.”
Trump focused much of his criticism on trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement implemented by President Bill Clinton and supported by Hillary Clinton, then the first lady.
Trump, who has been praised for his business negotiating skills, said trade deals have helped send jobs overseas and benefit China and other countries far more than the United States.
“She has bad judgment,” Trump said of Clinton. “She is unfit to be president.”
It’s an argument that works especially well in the Midwest, which once led the world in manufacturing until the jobs moved to countries such as Japan, with far less expensive labor and other costs.
On Wednesday night, Trump chose an unusually small venue in Waukesha, a performing arts forum that seats about 2,000, after drawing multiples of that the night before in a raucous rally in an airplane hangar in Florida.
But the Milwaukee suburb is important in the tight race. Waukesha County produced more Republican votes per capita than any county its size in 2012, according to a USA Today analysis.
The county is also a key to winning Wisconsin, a blue state in recent cycles but which many polls consider a swing state.
A Marquette Law School poll taken Sept. 15-18 gave Clinton a 41-38 percent edge against Trump in the entire state when Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein were included. But Clinton’s edge was within the margin of error for the poll of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
“Trump is winning in Waukesha, but not by the margins we see for other Republicans,” said Charles Franklin, director of the poll and a law and public service professor at Marquette. “Waukesha is the most Republican county in the state and also one of the highest turnout counties, so Trump needs to do at least as well there as other Republicans to be competitive statewide.”
Neither Trump nor Clinton won the Wisconsin primary. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz beat Trump 48-35 percent and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont beat Clinton 56-35 percent.
Since 1900, Wisconsin voters backed the winning presidential candidate more than 75 percent of the time, according to Ballotpedia, a Wisconsin based nonprofit, nonpartisan researcher of politics.
Trump said Clinton is bound for the jailhouse, not the White House.
“Hillary Clinton is an insider who fights only for herself and her donors,” he said. “I am an outsider and I fight only for you.”