Donald Trump won several Rust Belt states by promising to tear up unfair trade deals and bring back manufacturing jobs that have gone overseas. Campaigning in Erie, Pa., last fall, he told the Erie Times-News that he’d come to Erie as an ambassador for “the working man and woman.”
“I’m representing people whose jobs have just been taken away because their companies have left,” he said.
Erie County, located on Pennsylvania’s northwest tip, has in recent decades been hard hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs and consequent decline in the population as people moved away for better job opportunities, which is why Trump’s pledge resonated so deeply here, especially with the working class.
In this video, David Moore, whom we met at an Erie Applebee’s and who had recently been let go from his job at the Plastek Group, a plastics packaging manufacturer, explained just how deeply. “I know firsthand from just my division when I worked in Erie, of 125 employees out of three shifts, every single one of us voted for Trump for the same reason,” he said. “We wanted change.”
“We were pretty much standing as a shop saying, ‘We want to see something different. We don’t want the same political promises that don’t hold up.’ And Trump was very, very persistent through his campaigns that he was going to bring that change that a lot of us lower class working families were trying to find.”
Moore, who is in his early 30s and married with two young children, is no conservative hardliner. He calls himself “more of an independent.” He doesn’t agree with Trump on everything — he’s against “the wall,” for instance. What’s more, although his vote for Trump in 2016 was the first vote he ever cast, he said he probably would have voted for Obama in 2012 and gives the former president an “A” grade on performance.
That said, Trump’s pledge to “Make America Great Again” and bring jobs back from overseas convinced him it was time for a change. “Myself, and I know my wife, and numerous family members, we were all for Trump from day one.”
“He’s an advocate for the working class and that the politicians haven’t listened to them,” Moore continued. “If you did not have people in manufacturing, you didn’t have people in construction, you didn’t have people doing the real hard jobs, our country would not be nothing. I think our voices should be heard a lot clearer, and I’ve felt that over the years it hasn’t.” Trump, Moore said, appealed to the working class on a “‘I’ve been there. I know what you guys have been through’ level.”
This video was originally featured as a part of the Washington Examiner’s series The Race to 2020: The people and places that will define a presidency. You can read more about Erie County, see more videos, or use the form below to get email updates about future updates.