WAPAKONETA — The “Make Australia Great Again” tour.
That’s the name an official with the Auglaize County Democratic Party gave Donald Trump’s visit to Wapakoneta on Sunday.
Joe Monbeck was joined by fellow Democrats from five area counties who held up signs of protest as Trump passed by on his was to a much-anticipated visit at Pratt Industries, an Australian-owned firm under construction south of Wapakoneta. There he met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Monbeck held a sign that read “#Farmers LivesMatter” as he stood along Country Road 25A prior to Trump’s arrival. He said Australia is benefiting greatly from tarriffs that are causing great financial harm to farmers nationwide, including northwest Ohio.
Hence the name Monbeck had given Trump’s visit.
“This is Donald Trump’s fifth visit to Ohio this year and he has yet to meet with farmers who are taking the biggest hit from his failed policies,” Monbeck noted.
George Clark with the Ohio Democratic Party said the group was there to protest Trump. “Our message today is a positive. We’re here on behalf of our great farmers,” Clark said.
Joining the small group of Democrats was Shannon Freshour of Marysville, a candidate for the U.S. House seat currently held by Jim Jordan, R-Urbana.
“There are 13 counties in the 4th Congressional District and I want them all to feel supported,” Freshour said of her presence Sunday.
Also carrying signs were Dan Dardio of Allen County, Kris Krendel of Auglaize County and Cheryl Davis of Mercer County.
Other protesters came from farther away. A small group carrying a banner that said “Our “Revolution” boasted members from Indianapolis, Indiana to Youngstown, Ohio.
Group spokesman Frank Staples, who said he attended the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, said the group was borne out of the 2016 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders.
“We travel across the U.S. calling out Donald Trump on his broken promises and lies,” said Staples, who lost his job at Carrier Corporation in Indianopolis after Trump had vowed those jobs would be saved.
“We lost 500 jobs at Carrier to Monterrey, Mexico. We’re currently fighting another plant closure in Peru, Indiana, that has already sent 70% of its jobs to Mexico,” Staples said.
Chuckle Denison said he had heard a similar vow from Trump to save jobs at the General Motors plant in Lordstown. That didn’t happen either.
Also traveling to Wapakoneta on Sunday was Hattie Wilkins, a former president of the Steelworkers union in Youngstown. “Trump came to Lordstown and said he was going to bring jobs back to Ohio, but there have been numerous businesses in northeast Ohio that have closed down since then,” she said.
Just south of Wapakoneta and within eyesight of Pratt Industries, only Short Road separated the Trump protesters from a larger pro-Trump contingent. Shouts and chants were tossed back and forth briefly but not real animosity was evident.