Trump re-ups ‘Buy American’ pledge at Boeing rollout

Trump re-ups ‘Buy American’ pledge at Boeing rollout
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President Trump reiterated a campaign promise to buy and hire American at the debut of Boeing’s new long-haul airplane on Friday, with the president pointing to the aircraft manufacturer’s South Carolina facility as a prime example.

“This plane was built right here in the great state of South Carolina,” Trump said. “Our goal as a nation is to rely less on imports and rely more on products made here in the USA.”

Boeing rolled out its first 787-10 aircraft in dramatic fashion on Friday afternoon, kicking off the event with a prayer and theme music and ending with Trump exclaiming, “God bless Boeing.”

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The new aircraft, the latest and biggest model of Boeing’s Dreamliner family, is exclusively made in the company’s facility in North Charleston, S.C.

“The name says it all: Dreamliner,” Trump said. “Our country is all about making dreams come true.”

Boeing’s stock appeared to hit an all-time high at 1:55 p.m. of $173 per share, around the time Trump ended his speech.

Trump, who has been critical of the high cost of Boeing’s Air Force One contract, is the first sitting president to visit Boeing’s South Carolina facility.

The aircraft manufacturing industry contributes billions to the economy and supports millions of jobs. In South Carolina alone, the industry supports more than 100,000 jobs and generates $19 billion annually in economic activity, according to Boeing.

Trump touted his efforts to save American jobs and threatened a “substantial penalty” on companies that shift their operations overseas. The president told the crowd that manufacturing jobs were already coming back to the country and highlighted language he put into an executive order requiring pipelines to be made with U.S. steel.

“As your president, I’m going to do everything I can to unleash the power of the American spirit and to put our great people back to work,” Trump said. “It has to be much easier for manufacturers in our country, and much harder [for them] to leave.”

The speech represented a return to the core economic message of Trump's campaign. 
 
It comes at a time when his White House is struggling to maintain focus after being thrown off course by a seemingly endless string of controversies. 
 
A day earlier, Trump held a rollicking 77-minute news conference in which he denied reports detailing a White House consumed by chaos, deepened his ongoing feud with the media and parried questions about his team's ties to Russia.

Trump, who owns his own fleet of aircrafts, gushed over the 787-10. He took a tour of the cockpit following the speech and was spotted sitting in the pilot’s seat, according to pool reports.

“That is one beautiful airplane,” he said. “Congrats to the men and women here who have built it. What an amazing piece of art. What an amazing piece of work.”

The event comes after Trump harshly criticized Boeing before his Jan. 20 inauguration, calling for the company to lose its contract over the high cost of its Air Force One plane.

A Government Accountability Office report from March 2016 estimated the cost of two new Air Force One planes at roughly $3.2 billion before their scheduled completion in 2023.

“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion,” Trump tweeted on Dec. 6, 2016. “Cancel order!”

Boeing’s CEO said last month that his company has since made inroads with Trump on shrinking the cost of the next generation of Air Force One planes.

“We made some great progress on simplifying requirements for Air Force One, streamlining the process, streamlining certification by using commercial practices,” Dennis Muilenburg told reporters after meeting with Trump on Jan. 17. "All of that is going to provide a better airplane at a lower cost, so I’m pleased with the progress there.”

On Friday, Trump acknowledged that the contract was a “difficult project,” but said “we’re getting closer and closer.”