Trump in Toledo: Flint ‘a rough sight to look at’

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Toledo — One week after visiting Flint, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave his assessment of the water crisis-stricken Michigan city during a speech here that sought to reinforce his view of urban America.

“That was a rough sight to look at, Flint, Michigan,” Trump said during a half-hour address at the Stranahan Theater in Toledo.

Trump toured Flint’s dormant water treatment plant and visited a Methodist church during his brief trip to the city, where the lead-tainted water remains unsafe to drink without a faucet filter.

The New York real estate mogul vowed to remake blight-ridden cities like Flint if he’s elected president in the Nov. 8 general election.

“Politicians look at blighted neighborhoods and offer only excuses,” Trump said. “They look for one thing, they look for the votes of people living in the inner cities. And then they say, ‘We’ll see you later in four years after the election takes place.’ ”

Trump added: “I look at the same neighborhoods, and I want to offer solutions and have offered solutions.”

During the speech, Trump did not detail his specific policy proposals for turning around cities hit hard by high unemployment, depopulation and disinvestment. He stuck to his broader discussion about renegotiating international trade agreements in a bid to draw manufacturing back into the country.

“I want to go into the neglected neighborhoods, the failing schools, the forgotten stretches of this nation, of which there are many, and unlock their potential for all of our people,” Trump said.

The billionaire’s message of fixing cities and renegotiating trade pacts resonated with Gene Campbell, a 67-year-old salesman from Holland, Ohio.

“I really feel by doing the trade deals and stopping all of the jobs from going to Mexico and China, that is really going to bring the jobs back,” Campbell said after Trump’s speech.

Like his recent trips to Flint and an African-American church in Detroit, Trump’s visit to Toledo came after he attended a church service in Cleveland, where boxing promoter Don King’s introduction of Trump caused a stir.

King used the N-word racial slur during a rambling introduction of Trump, a longtime friend. King recalled telling pop icon Michael Jackson “if you’re poor, you are a poor Negro. I would use the N-word.”

“If you’re intelligent ... you are an intellectual Negro,” King said. “If you’re a dancing and sliding and gliding n----- — I mean Negro — you are a dancing and sliding and gliding Negro.”

The Toledo rally was Trump’s second trip there since accepting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination on July 21 at the GOP’s national convention in Cleveland.

Trump was more than an hour late to Toledo after the trip to Cleveland. Trump was introduced by former University of Indiana men’s basketball coach Bobby Knight, his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and King, who did not repeat his earlier racial slur.

“There’s nobody I’ve met in my lifetime who has a better grasp of how to correct mistakes and how to look at what’s wrong and how to correct what’s wrong and get it going right,” Knight said of Trump.

As a candidate, Trump has not followed the traditional playbook of campaigning for office, initially shunning voter data, polling and field organization.

But with Election Day less than seven weeks away, Trump used the speech to urge Ohioans and some Michiganians in the crowd to volunteer and help canvass neighborhoods, work at phone banks and get out the vote on Election Day.

“All we have to do is turn out the doubters, the cynics and the naysayers, of which we have a lot of them,” Trump said.

Tom Thayer, of Lambertville in Monroe County, said he is voting for Trump because he believes the GOP nominee will appoint conservative judges to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“That is my No. 1 thing,” said Thayer, a 75-year-old retired engineer.

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood