Remarks Prior to a Lunch With Harley-Davidson, Inc., Executives and Labor Union Representatives and an Exchange With Reporters
President Donald J. Trump
2 February 2017
The President. So it's great to have Harley-Davidson.
Harley-Davidson, Inc., President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew S. Levatich. Great to be here.
The President. What a great, great group of people, and what a fantastic job you did. And thank you for all of the votes you gave me in Wisconsin. [Laughter] Some people thought that was an upset; I thought we were going to win it. From the beginning, we thought we were going to win it.
Harley-Davidson is a true American icon, one of the greats. Your motorcycles have carried American servicemembers in the war—and the wars. They take care of our police officers. And I see it so often—whenever I go—whenever there's a motorcycle group, oftentimes, it's a Harley. And the sound of that Harley is a little different, I have to tell you. It's really good.
So thank you, Harley-Davidson, for building things in America. I think you're going to even expand. I know your business is now doing very well, and there's a lot of spirit right now in the country that you weren't having so much in the last number of months that you have right now. You see what's happening.
I'm especially honored to welcome the steelworkers and the machinists to the White House. Who is a steelworker here? You're all steelworkers, essentially, right?
But you folks have been terrific to me. Sometimes, your top people didn't support me, but the steelworkers supported me, right? A lot of your top people are going to be losing their jobs pretty soon, I guess, but they're all coming around; we're getting them. But the workers supported us big league. We want to make it easier for businesses to create more jobs and more factories in the United States, and you're a great example of it. That means we have to make America the best country on Earth to do business, and that's what we're in the process of doing. We're redoing NAFTA, we're doing a lot of our trade deals, and we're negotiating properly with countries, even countries that are allies. A lot of people taking advantage of us, a lot of countries taking advantage of us, really terribly taking advantage of us.
We had one instance in Australia—I have a lot of respect for Australia, I love Australia as a country—but we had a problem where, for whatever reason, President Obama said that they were going to take probably well over a thousand illegal immigrants who were in prisons, and they were going to bring them and take them into this country. And I just said why? I just wanted to ask a question—I said, ask that question of you—why? One thousand-two-hundred-fifty, could be 2,000, could be more than that, and I said, why? Why are we doing this? What's the purpose? So we'll see what happens. But a previous administration does something, you have to respect that, but you can also say, why are we doing this? That's why we're in the jams that we're in.
And you guys especially, the steelworkers, understand what I'm saying, right? So I just—we have some wonderful allies, but we're—and we're going to keep it that way—but we have to be treated fairly also. We have to be treated fairly. In this administration, our allegiance will be to the American workers and to American businesses, like Harley-Davidson, that were very strong in the 1980s. And I remember this: You were victims of trading abuse, big trading abuse, where they were dumping all sorts of competitors all over the place. And Ronald Reagan stepped in, and he put on large tariffs, and you wouldn't be talking about Harley-Davidson probably right now if he didn't do that.
But we're going to help you too, and we're going to make it really great for business. Not just you, but for everybody. We're going to be competitive with anybody in the world. We're going to be doing taxing policies; very soon it's going to be coming out. And I know health care is a big problem for every country—every company is now suffering with health care because of the tremendous cost, and that's one of the things that we're working on hardest—that and tax policy and tariffs and trade.
So I think you will be very happy. It's an honor to have you at lunch. I really appreciate your support. You've given me tremendous support; your workers in particular have given tremendous support. I want to thank the people of Wisconsin in particular. It's been amazing what happened up there. That was a big shocker that evening when they showed—wow—I'll never forget, wow, Wisconsin just went for Trump. Then, all of these people, especially that guy right there. [Laughter] No, but then they said, what's going on? Wisconsin just went for Trump. And then, Michigan went for Trump and Pennsylvania. So it was—they were great.
Just great people. These are amazing people, and they get it. So again, to all of you at the table today, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Mr. Levatich. Thank you.
The President. We really appreciate it greatly, thank you.
Q. President Trump, is military action off the table in Iran?
The President. Nothing is off the table.
Q. Mr. President, the Russians are praising you for easing sanctions.
The President. I haven't eased anything.
Q. That's what they said.
The President. Well, I haven't eased anything.
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