Republican presidential juggernaut Donald Trump took on Carrier Corp.—the firm moving 1,400 Indianapolis jobs to Mexico—during a GOP debate on Saturday night in South Carolina.
Trump twice referred to Carrier as he discussed trade and jobs. Trump preceded one reference to Carrier by saying said he would bring jobs back from China, Mexico, Japan and Vietnam. “They are taking our jobs,” Trump said. “They are taking our wealth.”
And later, he referred to a viral video uploaded by a Carrier employee that showed a company official announcing the layoffs to workers. “They were crying,” Trump explained. “It was a very sad situation.”
Carrier announced plans last week to relocate manufacturing operations from Indianapolis to Mexico over the next three years, resulting in the loss of about 1,400 local jobs. Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies Corp., also said it would move another 700 jobs from a plant in Huntington to Mexico.
Trump has been a frequent critic of trade deals, saying last year he’d seek to revoke the benefits of NAFTA and condemning the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade deal involving Asia and the United States that President Barack Obama and many Republicans have backed.
During Saturday night’s debate, Trump was the only candidate to refer specifically to the Carrier job losses.
Trump said he would tell Carrier: “You’re gonna go to Mexico. You’re gonna make air conditioners in Mexico. You’re gonna put them across our border with no tax? I’m gonna tell them right now I am gonna get consensus from Congress and we’re gonna tax you when those air conditioners come. So stay where you are or build in the United States.”
Trump said the United State is “killing ourselves with trade pacts that are no good for us and no good for our workers.”
In 2014, Carrier, which has annual revenue of $56 billion, accepted a $5.1 million taxpayer-funded federal tax credit, saying at the time that it would help the company “expand production at its Indianapolis facility to meet increasing demand for its high-efficiency gas furnace line.”
Indiana taxpayers have separately paid the company nearly $530,000 over the past nine years in economic development incentives, some of which the state says it will seek to recapture.