Trump recently called for tariffs on imports for cars, trucks, SUVs and other car parts, and launched an investigation into whether importing automobiles and auto parts could be a threat to national security, which drew criticism from Tennessee legislators.
Mark Brown, Tennessee Democratic Party spokesperson, said Blackburn has not publicly discussed her issues with Trump’s latest round of potential tariffs.
“While Phil Bredesen was creating auto-industry jobs at the height of the Great Recession, like adding Volkswagen in Chattanooga and expanding the automotive supply chain in middle and southeast Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn voted against George W. Bush’s 2008 plan to save auto-industry jobs in Spring Hill,” Brown said. “Now Blackburn is standing silent on the issue of proposed trade tariffs that Sen. Lamar Alexander says would ‘destroy the thriving automotive industry that has been built by thousands of skilled Tennessee workers.’ Voters have a very clear contrast between these two candidates.”
However, Blackburn said she disagreed with Trump on tariffs during a visit to Wilson County Veterans Museum on Friday.
“When there’s a policy difference, I generally speak up. I reach out. I make the position known – what the position of Tennesseans is going to be on that issue,” said Blackburn, who noted she’s spoken with Trump about tariffs in the past, including those related to dye, agriculture and auto manufacturing.
“I am very concerned about the president abusing the authorities granted to him in Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “There is no reason to use this provision to consider imposing tariffs on the automobile industry, and this appears to be either an attempt to affect domestic politics ahead of the election or for some other transactional purpose regarding ongoing trade discussions. This is a dangerous course and should be abandoned immediately.”
Alexander, R-Tenn., also criticized Trump for the potential tariffs.
“Forty years ago, I helped convince Nissan to build here what they sell here – they built a plant in Smyrna, others followed, and today one-third of Tennessee’s manufacturing jobs are auto related, 967 foreign-based businesses employ more than 140,000 Tennesseans, and we have more than 900 automotive suppliers in 88 of our 95 counties,” Alexander said. “Tariffs on the imports of cars and auto parts will not put our workers first. By making it more expensive to build and sell cars here, they will destroy the thriving automotive industry that has been built by thousands of skilled Tennessee workers.”
Bredesen and Blackburn are candidates for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Corker. Both are favorites to win their respective primaries and will likely face one another in the November General Election.