Trump ribs Snyder over non-endorsement

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

President Donald Trump ribbed Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday in Ypsilanti, inviting the second-term Republican to pose for a photo with him “even though you didn’t endorse me.”

President Donald Trump tours the American Center of Mobility, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan.

Snyder, who did not endorse in the 2016 presidential election but has been working to build relationships with the new GOP administration, joined Trump and auto industry executives on a tour of American-made automobiles in an aircraft hangar near the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run.

Trump was walking with General Motors Co. CEO and Chairman Mary Barra, who had just shown Trump the made-in-Michigan 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle when he called Snyder over for a photo. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao added that, “He’s never forgotten.”

“I never forget,” the president quickly added.

Trump’s endorsement joke was met with some awkward laughter by those walking with in the group that included Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Sergio Marchionne and Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Mark Fields.

Snyder later told reporters the exchange wasn’t personally awkward for him.

“I mean, he’s made that comment about quite a few people,” Snyder said of Trump. “So I view as something that, again, let’s move forward, let’s build bridges and let’s make a stronger economy in our country.”

Trump and Snyder talked during the visit but did not have a private meeting, according to the governor’s office, which declined to share specific discussion topics.

The photo opportunity came as they walked through a facility lined with U.S.-built cars, including a Ford Mustang built in Flat Rock and a Jeep Grand Cherokee built in Detroit.

“We’re going to bring a lot of jobs back to Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania,” said Trump, who was in town to celebrate the auto industry and announce a new review of fuel economy standards set a year ahead of time under former President Barack Obama.

Trump officially won Michigan by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election. He was the first Republican to do so since 1988, when George H. W. Bush beat Democrat Michael Dukakis.

“I love this state. I love the people of this state, and you did me a big favor because you gave me a victory, and that victory hasn’t been won by Michigan in a long time,” Trump said Wednesday in a speech attended by officials and autoworkers.

Trump focused heavily on Michigan in his presidential campaign, which concluded with a late-night rally in Grand Rapids that stretched into the early hours of Election Day.

He visited Grand Rapids again on Dec. 9 for a post-election “thank you” rally, where he also jabbed Snyder, telling supporters “it would have been nice if I had a little help from your governor.”

Snyder criticized some of Trump’s more controversial comments during the combative campaign season, but he has been working to build relationships with the new administration.

He remains friendly with Vice President Mike Pence and has generally praised Trump since the president took office.

“It’s great to have the president here and to have a great discussion and show him about the American Center for Mobility,” Snyder said. “I appreciate his comments about helping the auto industry, and hopefully it means more jobs for Michigan and for the country.”

Staff writers Melissa Burden and Ian Thibodeau contributed.