(Photo: Matt Rourke/AP)
Hillary Clinton made her first campaign stop in Indiana on Tuesday by touring a family-owned steel company in Hammond, Indiana, Chicago’s neighbor to the south.
Munster Steel Co. is the same company that Barack Obama visited while on the campaign trail in 2008.
“It’s a real honor to be in this plant, a family that has committed three generations to building this businesses and to carrying it on,” Clinton told a small group of invited guest and onlookers inside the plant which did not allow in the general public.
The plant is a manufacture of structural steel that’s used bridge construction. It’s large warehouse-type facility is dwarfed by the major steel producers along Lake Michigan’s southern shore in Northwest Indiana.
Steel is vitally important to this region — which produces more steel than any other in the nation. But whether big or small, U.S. steel manufactures are under threat from foreign competitors, mainly China.
China has long been accused of so called “steel dumping,” the practice of selling cheaply-priced steel. The practice is considered illegal and China has been cited in the past for it.
But Clinton says more needs to be done.
“Steel is crucial to our manufacturing base. Crucial to our national security and I will not let this vital industry disappear,” Clinton said. “I am going to make the steel industry’s survival one of my top priorities.”
Getting tough on China, Clinton says, is just the start.
“We are going to use every tool we possibly can against China for their illegal actions. As president, I’ll go to bat for our steelworkers, our iron workers, for all of our trades,” she said.
Just last week, GOP front-runner Donald Trump told a crowd in Indianapolis that he will fight to bring back steel jobs.
Clinton says Trump has no plan to do so.
“In this campaign, it’s important that people not to just give speeches and get everybody riled up. You need to ask them what are you going to do and how you are going to do it,” Clinton said.
At the stop, Clinton attracted nearly every top Democrat in Lake County, Indiana, including Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.
“It always helps to have a friend in the White House,” Freeman-Wilson said. “It was especially good to have her fly into the Gary Chicago airport.”
Clinton also campaigned in Hammond back in 2008 during her first run for the Democratic nomination.
She was greeted then and now by Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr.
“She’s protecting manufacturing which is one of the most important things right now especially against steel dumping by China, “ McDermott said.
After Hammond, Clinton headed to AM General, a car producing company about an hour away in Mishawaka, Indiana.
Clinton’s opponent Bernie Sanders plans to make stops on Wednesday at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana and at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
On the Republican side, Trump will be in Indianapolis on Wednesday, his second in the city in two weeks.
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz continues to campaign in southern Indiana while Ohio Gov. John Kasich devotes time and resources for primaries in New Mexico and Oregon.
Michael Puente is WBEZ’s Northwest Indiana Bureau Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @MikePuentenews.