Swanton, Ohio — President Donald Trump should nominate a replacement for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the Nov. 3 election, his supporters said Monday ahead of a campaign rally near Toledo.
Trump is expected to speak at about 7 p.m. at the Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport in Swanton, Ohio, three days after the news of the liberal justice’s death broke on Friday night.
“This is why we elected him, so yeah, we absolutely want it done,” said Brad Moores, 50, of Toledo, who was waiting outside the airport venue Monday afternoon.
The Republican president has said he plans to nominate a woman for Ginsburg’s seat on Friday or Saturday. But Democratic lawmakers have contended that whoever wins the Nov. 3 election should make the nomination, citing a policy Republicans used to block then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in 2016.
Obama wanted Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative jurist who died in February 2016. The GOP-controlled Senate refused to consider the nomination, which ultimately allowed Trump to choose Scalia’s replacement.
A handful of Trump’s supporters countered Monday that if the tables were turned and Democrats held the presidency and controlled the U.S. Senate in an election year, they would advance a nominee.
Monday’s rally occurred about 20 minutes from the Michigan border as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Hundreds of people were gathering at the outdoor venue with many of them not wearing masks.
“This is a free country. This isn’t China,” Moores said when asked about attending a large event while the virus is still spreading.
In 2016, Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes, his smallest margin of victory nationally against Democrat Hillary Clinton. He won Ohio by a wider margin, about 8 percentage points, but Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign is hoping to make the race in that state closer.
On Tuesday, Biden’s running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, will visit Detroit and Flint.
In a statement about Trump’s Ohio stop, the former vice president said Trump had bungled the nation’s response to the pandemic.
“Ohio deserves a leader in the White House who will fight for workers and families — not just corporations and the super wealthy,” Biden said. “As president, I’ll ensure that we not only recover from this crisis and end this pandemic, but that we support the small businesses that fuel our economy and create millions of good-paying jobs.
“There’s nothing Americans can’t do if given half a chance — and as president, I will help bring this country together so we can build back better than ever before.”
There were many Michiganians in the crowd for Monday’s rally, which occurred fewer than two weeks after Trump spoke at an airport hangar in Freeland. Joe Pastorek, 63, of Highland, attended the Freeland event and was in line for the one in Toledo.
There’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says Trump shouldn’t nominate a replacement for Ginsburg, Pastorek said.
“If the Democrats were in power, I’m 100% sure they’d put somebody in before the election,” Pastorek said.
Sheila Deyak, 58, of St. Clair Shores, made a 90-mile drive to see Trump’s speech in Swanton.
“We love our president,” Deyak said. “We want our country back.”
On whether Republicans are being hypocritical in pushing Trump to replace Ginsburg while blocking Garland’s nomination because it was an election year four years ago, Deyak said, “Hypocrisy runs both ways.”
Likewise, Maureen Higgins, 59, of Plymouth said the seat isn’t Ginsburg’s.
“The seat belongs to the American people,” Higgins said.
As of Monday, Michigan had confirmed 117,406 cases of COVID-19 and 6,665 deaths linked to the virus. Ohio had confirmed 137,309 cases and 4,325 deaths.
The economy has been a focus of the Republican incumbent’s re-election campaign. During his rally in Freeland on Sept. 10, Trump claimed he had “saved” the auto industry even though auto manufacturing jobs in Michigan rose before he took office and declined during his presidency — before the pandemic hit.
In Ohio, auto manufacturing jobs increased slightly from from January 2017, when Trump took office, to February 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the pandemic, the auto manufacturing job total has dropped: The total is down about 17% from January 2017 compared with July 2020, according to the bureau.
In a Michigan Democratic Party event Monday, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, slammed Trump’s handling of the economy. She noted a May announcement from Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. that it would shut down three operations at AK Steel Dearborn Works, putting more than 200 people out of work, and a December announcement that U.S. Steel Corp. planned to indefinitely idle part of its Great Lakes Works site in Ecorse and River Rouge, affecting as many as 1,500 workers.
“People have empty refrigerators who don’t know where they’re going to get food to feed their families,” Dingell said.
Trump’s supporters have focused on his January signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Under the new deal, automakers will have to produce cars with 75% of parts originating from the U.S., Canada or Mexico to qualify for duty-free treatment, up from NAFTA’s 62.5% level.