Why Trump’s strategy is winning over Rust Belt Democrats

Why Trump’s strategy is winning over Rust Belt Democrats

Neil Mortensen remembers how neighbors lost factory jobs in this suburb north of Detroit, and then, inexorably and sadly, their homes.

“I’d see all these businesses that used to produce normal products, even brooms, that everybody uses and purchases today, but are not produced here — they are produced overseas,” he said.

A construction manager, Mr. Mortensen escaped the waves of layoffs because his employer, which once built plants for heavy industry, is now in the demolition business. “Those factories are gone, and I get to knock ’em down, unfortunately,” he said.

Which is how he and his wife, Kathy, ended up at a rally for Donald J. Trump, the anti-free-trade billionaire who promises to slap 35 percent tariffs on Ford cars built in Mexico. “We’re hopeful that Donald can bring those jobs back, and our neighbors, too,” Mr. Mortensen said.

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If he is the nominee, Mr. Trump argues, he can deliver not only Michigan but other Rust Belt states, like Ohio and Pennsylvania, into the Republican column in November, broadening the party’s traditional road to the White House.

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