How Will Trump's Comments Against Goodyear Impact The November Election?

The Goodyear blimp over Carson, Calif. in August 2014.
Based in Akron, Goodyear is an iconic American brand, in part because of its blimps used for advertising and aerial broadcasts at sporting events. [Eric Glenn / Shutterstock]

Political ads calling out President Donald Trump’s attempt to start a boycott against Goodyear could continue through the November election, as Democrats attempt to sway locals to vote blue.

Last week on Twitter, Trump advocated for a boycott of Goodyear after an employee at a Kansas plant posted an alleged photo of company policy banning political attire in the workplace, including items with the "Make America Great Again” and “Blue Lives Matter” slogans.

Trump made a significant error in speaking out against Goodyear, said University of Akron Bliss Institute of Politics Interim Director David Cohen. Goodyear provides thousands of jobs to local residents, Cohen said, and is an institution in the region.

“It really is more than just a company. It’s really woven into the fabric of the community, certainly in Akron, Ohio,” Cohen said. “If you live in the Akron area or live in Northeast Ohio, you’re accustomed to seeing the blimp flying overhead.”

Cohen expects Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden to continue reminding voters of Trump’s comments through Election Day, he said.

“It would be political malpractice for the Biden campaign or for Ohio Democrats not to use this huge strategic error of President Trump’s,” he said.

The lack of other U.S.-based tire companies means a boycott of Goodyear would almost certainly require purchasing tires from overseas, Cohen said, which could alienate additional voters.

Goodyear clarified its dress code since Trump’s initial statements, saying workers are permitted to wear items that support law enforcement. But the issue isn’t necessarily the dress code, Cohen said, or even Goodyear’s response. Political groups are going to focus on Trump’s decision to speak out against a local company in the first place, he said.

“This is going to be an issue from now until Election Day,” Cohen said. “I think the Biden campaign, the Ohio Democratic Party, other outside groups, are going to remind voters in Ohio that the president went after this Ohio company and suggested boycotting it.”

Trump’s comments come at a particularly bad time as Ohio is reopening its economy, Cohen said. Goodyear is providing necessary jobs to Ohio workers, even during the ongoing pandemic, he said.

“Goodyear really is an icon of Northeast Ohio and Ohio in general. By suggesting a boycott, you’re going to hurt Ohio’s economy, you’re going to hurt workers at Goodyear.”

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