President Donald Trump quoted former President Abraham Lincoln Tuesday in what could be interpreted as an endorsement of the 16th president’s protectionist ideals.
“The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the abandonment of the protective policy by the American government will produce want and ruin among our people,” Trump said in reference to an 1847 speech.
“We must create a level playing field for our companies and our workers,” Trump asserted at his first address before Congress. “When foreign companies ship their product into America, we tax them nothing.”
Lincoln was an ardent supporter of tariffs on imported goods, and was a fierce protectionist by many accounts.
Politicians in the 19th century were widely supportive of protectionist views, especially in states like Pennsylvania, which was home to the American steel industry and wielded massive political clout. Political observers at the time said a pro-protectionist platform was the only way for a Republican to win the party’s nomination in 1860.
“Lincoln was right, and it is time we heeded his words,” Trump said. “I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore.”
The president was able to win the working class vote in America’s rust-belt with his protectionist views on trade, and has been unapologetic with his “America first” mantra.
Trump lost union households to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by eight points, but that number is 10 points lower than the union household support former President Barack Obama received over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012. (RELATED: Rank And File Union Members Propelled Trump Into The White House)
The president opened up his speech by acknowledging the conclusion of Black History month and mentioned the recent targeting of Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries.
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