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Donald Trump’s Trip to Michigan’s Ford Factory Was … Weird

US President Donald Trump holds a mask instead of wearing it as he speaks during a tour of the Ford Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan

On Thursday, Donald Trump visited a Ford factory in Michigan and the whole thing was extremely strange from start to finish—and past finished, actually.

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First, Trump didn’t wear a mask during his tour, despite the company’s policy of requiring everyone inside the plant to be wearing a face covering. Apparently, Trump did wear one during private meetings at the factory but took it off for the photo-op portion of the tour.

The reason he gave for removing his mask was that he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” which is such a bizarre mentality, to have turned masks into a completely one-sided war of egos.

Things continued to get worse after the tour, when Trump gave a speech and decided to praise the “good bloodlines” of Ford Motor’s founder Henry Ford.

“In our lifetimes, the company founded by a man named Henry Ford—good bloodlines, good bloodlines—if you believe in that stuff,” he said, adding, “You got good blood.” It wasn’t clear if that last bit was meant for Ford’s great-grandson and the company’s current executive chairman William Clay Ford, who was present, or maybe just employees of the factory, like, by association. Either way, it was a gross thing to say.

Here’s the thing about Henry Ford that makes that “good bloodlines” comment so particularly terrible: He was a famously huge anti-Semite, just absolutely terrible and also hugely influential. He bought his hometown newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, and used it to publish a series of articles that ran for more than 90 issues in which he claimed there was a vast international Jewish conspiracy. Hitler loved Ford’s writings, he was inspired by him, and he literally gave Ford an award.

“Bloodlines” is never really an acceptable subject to bring up (unprompted, no less, and during a tour of a car factory) but when discussing a known anti-Semite, it’s less a dog whistle than a scream from the mountaintops.

Once Trump left Michigan, things didn’t get much better. The state’s Attorney General, Dana Nessel, criticized Trump and his refusal to wear a mask. “The president is a petulant child who refuses to follow the rules, and I have to say, this is no joke,” she said during an appearance on CNN.

Trump responded by calling her angry and stupid, claiming that he was personally responsible for job growth in Michigan.

He also accused her of “viciously threatening” Ford motors—which she didn’t. She said her department would have to have a “very serious conversation” with Ford because companies in the state are not supposed to allow people inside their doors without maks, “even the President of the United States.”

But her real criticism was aimed at Trump. Her CNN appearance was about the importance of wearing a mask in public spaces—as is the policy at Ford.

“I think the message he sent [by going without a mask” is the same message since he first took office in 2017, which is ‘I don’t care about you,'” Nessel said, “‘I don’t care about your health, I don’t care about your safety, I don’t care about your welfare, I don’t care about anyone but myself.’ And he’s continuously sent this message and what I would say back is that even if you don’t have a President of the United States that cares about the residents of this state, fortunately, you have a governor and you have an attorney general who do. And we’re going to do everything in our power to protect you, even if you have a president who won’t.”

(image: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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