Donald Trump vowed to protect Israel “100 percent” at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday.
The Republican candidate for president was delivering a speech on trade at a shuttered factory in Manchester in which he called for backing away from decades of US policy that encouraged trade with other nations in favor of tariffs that he said would help restore manufacturing jobs.
After the speech, Trump was asked questions on other topics by members of the small, invitation-only audience.
One came from a man who said he was “opposed to wasting our military in the Middle East on behalf of Zionist Israel.”
Trump, who has sometimes been slow to shut down provocative questions, was quick to call Israel a vital ally.
“Israel is a very, very important ally of the United States and we are going to protect them 100% — 100%. It’s our true friend over there.”
Trump later said “that was a tough question on Israel. That was nasty. Whoa.”
He also received a question from a woman who argued that more veterans should be put in charge of border security and the Transportation Security Administration.
Why not “get rid of all the ‘heejabies’ they wear at TSA?” the woman, who gave her name as Cathie Chevalier, asked — apparently referring to hijabs worn by some Muslim women. “I’ve seen them myself.”
“I understand,” Trump told her. “And we are looking at that. We’re looking into a lot of things,” he said.
Trump used the backdrop of the Osram Sylvania plant, which once manufactured lighting products but closed in 2014 and moved some of its 139 jobs to a plant in Mexico, as an example of the human toll of trade deals like NAFTA. And he put the blame solely on his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, who signed the free-trade agreement in the 1990s.
“This legacy is largely due – and you could actually say entirely due — to NAFTA,” he said, adding: “The real Clinton Global Initiative is their economic plan to ship America’s jobs overseas.”
However, a spokesman for Osram said Thursday the company did not shift jobs to Mexico due to any free trade agreements, including NAFTA. Instead, spokesman Glen Gracia said, the shift was a response to declining demand for traditional lighting products that were produced at the Manchester, New Hampshire facility. Gracia said the company transferred production for those products to Juarez, Mexico, and Foshan, China.
Osram still has two plants open in New Hampshire, employing about 850 people, Gracia said.
The Energy Independence and Security Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2007, is part of what led to the use of more energy-efficient lighting and caused the lower demand in products made at the Osram plant, Gracia said.
Trump argued that some incentives, such as interest-free loans, that have been used to keep companies in the country are ineffective. Instead, he’s proposing a 35% tariff on goods like car parts and air conditioners produced by companies that ship jobs overseas.
“We’re either going to keep ’em here or we’re going to make a hell of a lot of money. It’s very simple,” he said. “And they’re going to regret that they ever moved.”