Trump launched new attacks on Clinton in Novi

Chad Livengood Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Novi — Republican Donald Trump on Friday launched a litany of new attacks on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, claiming she’ll cave to other countries on free trade deals and be beholden to corporate interests that have bankrolled her campaign.

“She will put the White House up for sale, like she always does,” Trump said before a crowd of several thousand supporters who stood outside in the rain for hours to get inside the Suburban Collection Showplace.

As Trump faced increased scrutiny of his own business dealings, the New York billionaire is trying to keep the heat on Clinton by continuing to highlight her handling of classified information as secretary of state while she maintained a private email server against government policy.

Trump called on President Barack Obama not to grant Clinton a presidential pardon before he leaves office that would shield her from any future criminal prosecution.

“Mr. President, will you pledge not to give a pardon to Hillary Clinton and her co-conspirators for their many crimes against our country and against society itself?” Trump asked.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations concluded Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as the country’s chief diplomat did not violate any laws, though FBI Director James Comey has been highly critical of her handling of emails. Clinton has apologized for using a private email server, which was stored at her home.

The no-pardon challenge came about six hours after Trump visited the grave site of Gerald Ford, the 38th U.S. president who famously pardoned his predecessor President Richard Nixon a month after Nixon resigned from office.

Trump’s early evening speech in Novi was part of a three-city swing through Michigan, his fifth trip to the Great Lakes State in two months.

The New York businessman started his day in Grand Rapids, making a surprise visit to Gerald Ford Presidential Museum before attending fundraiser at a nearby hotel.

Trump was slated to attend another fundraiser later Friday night at an undisclosed location in the region. But it appeared the event would take place at Detroit’s Chrysler House, where Secret Service agents were positioned Friday evening as Republican officials such as Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and Attorney General Bill Schuette as well as GOP donors like Peter Karmanos and wife Danialle Karmanos entered the building.

It also came as he tried to shame a former beauty pageant winner for her sexual history in an early morning tweet-storm, undercutting his campaign’s efforts to increase his appeal to women.

Much of Trump’s Novi speech focused on his signature campaign issue of renegotiating international trade deals – an issue on which he’s cornered Clinton.

“It’s time to rebuild Michigan,” Trump said. “We’re not going to let them take your jobs out of Michigan any longer.”

Trump later added: “It’s time, by the way, to rebuild Detroit.”

Michigan has failed to to replace all of the jobs it lost from 2000 through the Great Recession. But the state has been among the nation’s leaders in creating jobs and has lowered its unemployment rate to 4.5 percent, which is lower than the nation’s 4.9 percent jobless rate.

The Republican presidential candidate’s campaign against trade deals has centered around an almost daily criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Obama wants to get approved by Congress.

Trump has fashioned his vows to walk away from NAFTA, TPP and other trade pacts around a campaign against what he called a “globalist” view of the world economy.

“I’m not running to be president of the world,” Trump said. “I’m running to be president of the United States of America.”

Clinton has vowed to veto the TPP if it’s passed by Congress, but she had praised the agreement when she was part of the Obama administration. The trade agreement is with countries including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

A top union leader in Michigan said Friday he thinks Trump can’t win Michigan on the trade issue alone.

“He thinks the trade message is going to play here, but I don’t think it is,” said Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Because Hillary Clinton’s said she’s going to veto TPP if it passes, she wants to look at the past trade deals (and) she’s willing to renegotiate them if they need it. I just think the best he can do on that issue is play to a draw.”

But the issue of trade has galvanized some Michigan voters who have made their livings in the manufacturing sector.

“He’s actually the first presidential candidate that I’ve ever seen talking about trade in any manner that would look at ensuring that America protects jobs,” said Victor Squires, 55, of Northville, who works for the U.S. Navy building ships.

Squires said he previously worked for Ford Motor Co. in management at the Wayne and Wixom plants, losing his job during the 2008 recession.

“Every other candidate says trade is good, trying to convince that unlimited trade is beneficial,” Squires said. “The Republican Party has generally been very pro-trade. So Trump’s kind of very unique on that. And I’m OK with that.”

General Motors retiree Donald Gillanders, 74, of Harrison Township spent his career working for the automakers and small tool-and-die shops that have supplied factories in Michigan with machining tools for generations.

“I watched all of the die shops in Michigan die,” he said. “They’re all going overseas because of the cheaper labor and everything else. And we’re getting screwed by the rest of the world.”

During his speech, Trump said the TPP would “economically devastate Michigan” and lead to even more automotive jobs going overseas.

Trump argued his opponent will cave on TPP because she has received campaign contributions from corporations that have lobbied for passage of the trade pact.

“When it comes to Hillary Clinton, all you have to do is remember these words: Follow the money,” Trump said.

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood