NORTH CHARLESTON President Donald Trump’s honeymoon with South Carolina is not over yet.
Shifting focus away from his administration’s rocky start in Washington, the New York Republican received a warm reception in the Palmetto State Friday, where he thanked S.C. voters for helping him win the White House and renewed campaign promises to secure American jobs.
“I love South Carolina. I love it,” Trump told a crowd of 5,000 Boeing employees gathered for the rollout of the aerospace giant’s newest massive passenger plane. “This was going to be a place that was tough to win, and we won in a landslide.”
Not long into his 15-minute speech, Trump paid his dues, thanking S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, who as the lieutenant governor was the first statewide official in the country to endorse him.
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“It’s wonderful to be back in South Carolina, especially your new governor. ... He helped us so much,” Trump said.
McMaster’s support paid off when he became governor after Trump made former Gov. Nikki Haley ambassador to the United Nations. Before Trump took the stage, McMaster said Friday “may be the single best day in the history of South Carolina” and promised Trump would make America “greater than ever before.”
Trump’s visit comes after a rough start with Boeing.
During the campaign, Trump predicted the company would move jobs to China. Then, in December, he complained on Twitter about “out of control” costs for two 747s Boeing is building for future presidents.
While on stage, Trump mostly praised Boeing, commending its work on the new Dreamliner, referring to the company’s CEO Dennis Muilenberg as a “tough negotiator” and ending his speech declaring, “God bless Boeing.”
But off stage he doubled down on his criticism of the promised Air Force One planes and praised Boeing’s competition.
While exiting the new Dreamliner after a tour, Trump said of the promised presidential jets that “the price is too high, but we’re negotiating.”
Of Boeing competitor Lockheed Martin, Trump said: "We love Lockheed. Great partner."
The visit was Trump’s first to South Carolina since his validating GOP primary victory here last February.
It turned into a pep rally of sorts.
Over the cheers of Boeing employees, the president reaffirmed campaign promises to slash taxes and regulations for businesses, protect American jobs and grow the economy – making the best of a chance to shift the national conversation away from recent questions about his administration’s ties to Russia and an official’s resignation.
“I’m going to do everything I can to unleash the power of the American spirit and put our great people back to work,” Trump said.
The message resonated with Boeing manufacturers responsible for the new 787-10 Dreamliner, introduced Friday.
Justin Bunch, a 33-year-old Boeing employee, said his coworkers, who voted Wednesday not to unionize, are “hard-working people that want to see more of their money go into their pocket instead of taxes.”
Trump’s appearance at the North Charleston site shows he stands behind American workers, Bunch said after the event.
“That just shows how much he cares about jobs in this country, and jobs in South Carolina,” he said.
Boeing employees – some wearing “Make America Great Again” hats – cheered throughout Trump’s speech and welcomed him with signs referencing his promise to secure American jobs.
But not everyone in North Charleston was thrilled with Trump’s visit.
As Trump toured the Boeing plant, S.C. Democrats gathered at the North Charleston Coliseum to demand an investigation into what they deemed the Trump Administration’s “shady communications with Russia.”
“It’s good that Donald Trump seems to enjoy reliving the 2016 campaign, because Americans are demanding a full investigation of his campaign’s collusion with Russia,” S.C. Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison, one of the protestors, said in a statement.
“In the meantime, the president would be wise to focus on actually helping American workers, rather than eliminating health care and giving Wall Street free rein over the American economy.”
The event also drew a sampling of South Carolina’s GOP elite.
U.S. Reps. Mark Sanford of Charleston and Joe Wilson of Springdale were there. Also attending were S.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman of Florence, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant of Anderson, House Speaker Jay Lucas of Darlington, House Majority Leader Gary Simrill of York, Treasurer Curtis Loftis and GOP chair Matt Moore.
Simrill said Trump has, for decades, pushed for “common-sense policies to get government out of the way of job creators like Boeing.”
He continued: “S.C. House Republicans share President Trump’s zeal for private enterprise, and we know with world-class employers like Boeing, the future of our state remains bright.”
President Trump’s promises
President Donald Trump renewed several campaign promises during his visit to South Carolina. Here are some of them:
▪ Enforce trade rules and create a “level playing field” for U.S. workers
▪ Bring more, better paying jobs to the U.S.
▪ Keep American jobs from going overseas, pledging to “fight for every last American job”
▪ Slash regulations and taxes, creating a climate friendly for businesses
▪ Build up the U.S. military so “none will dare challenge it”