President Donald Trump briefly visited Austin on Wednesday for a tour of an Apple manufacturing plant.
In a tweet after the visit, Trump incorrectly stated that he’d “opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America.” In fact, the plant he visited has been open since before his term began.
This was Trump’s seventh visit to Texas this year, during a time in which questions have been raised about whether the dependably red state will be competitive in the 2020 elections. Here’s what you need to know about his trip.
What did he do here?
Trump landed in Austin around 2 p.m., waved to reporters and supporters and gave a couple of fist pumps, but he did not speak to members of the press, according to White House pool reports. Greeting him were Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton.
He toured an Apple plant where the Mac Pro desktop computer is manufactured. Then he headed back to the Austin airport around 3 p.m. to return to Washington, D.C. Earlier in the day, Apple announced it was beginning construction on its new campus in Austin, the next step in the company’s broad expansion into the city. The campus will initially house 5,000 employees, with the capacity to grow to 15,000, and is expected to open in 2022.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said Trump’s visit to Austin highlights Texas’ thriving economy. The Texas Democratic Party, meanwhile, called the visit a stunt that shows Republicans are worried about the upcoming elections.
Why did Apple host Trump?
Apple CEO Tim Cook is a member of the Trump administration’s American Workforce Policy Advisory Board.
Last summer, the company signed the Trump administration’s Pledge to America’s Workers and committed to creating 10,000 training opportunities for American workers and students over the next five years. Apple is one of the biggest private employers in Austin, and its presence is growing with the construction of its new campus.
At the Apple plant, Trump said he discussed the status of the American economy with Cook and asked Cook to describe his feelings.
“I think we have the strongest economy in the world right now,” Cook said, according to reporters.
Who was here with him?
Trump was joined by Cook, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, senior adviser to the president Jared Kushner and adviser to the president Ivanka Trump.
What was he promoting?
The visit gave Trump a chance to tout Apple’s billion-dollar Austin expansion. Apple continued its Austin expansion after being approved for tariff exemptions in September to allow the import of key Mac Pro parts from China.
Trump has long pushed an “America first” platform, and increasing jobs was one of his major campaign promises. In 2018, he implemented several tariffs on imported goods like solar panels, steel and aluminum to promote United States-based manufacturing. But these tariffs led to retaliatory tariffs by a number of governments, including the European Union and India. Trump also set and escalated tariffs on goods imported from China, which led to an ongoing trade war.
Could the public attend?
No. There was no public event scheduled during Trump’s time in Austin. There were dueling public political events, however. At 1 p.m., the Trump Victory Committee hosted an anti-impeachment rally called “Stop the Madness!” featuring Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey, Travis County Republican Party Chairman Matt Mackowiak and other Trump supporters.
Texas Democrats, meanwhile, hosted “a workers roundtable event exposing Donald Trump’s failed economic record for working Texans.” That 9:30 a.m. event, at the Texas AFL-CIO headquarters, featured Austin Mayor Steve Adler and multiple Democratic state representatives.
Apple and Steve Adler, a former Tribune board chairman, have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.