President Joe Biden laced into Donald Trump on May 8, over a failed project in the previous administration that was supposed to bring thousands of new jobs into southeastern Wisconsin and trumpeted new economic investments under his watch that are coming to the same spot.

That location in the battleground state will now be the site of a new data center from Microsoft, whose president credited the Biden administration’s economic policies for paving the way for the new investments. For President Biden, it offered another point of contrast between him and Trump, who had promised a $10 billion investment by the Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn that never came.

“In fact, he came here with your senator, Ron Johnson, literally holding a golden shovel, promising to build the eighth wonder of the world. You kidding me?” President Biden told the crowd of about 300 people, who clapped and cheered loudly as he spoke. “They dug a hole with those golden shovels, and then they fell into it.”

Noting that 100 homes were destroyed to make way for the project, which wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, President Biden added a jab: “Foxconn turned out to be just that — a con. Go figure.”

President Biden was in Sturtevant, in Racine County, to promote the $3.3 billion Microsoft data center, which the Democratic president said will employ about 2,300 union construction workers to build it and then 2,000 permanent employees to staff it.

Microsoft’s president Brad Smith said in an interview that Microsoft had a “steadfast commitment to under-promising and over-delivering” and praised the Biden administration and the state’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, for economic policies that set the stage for the developments announced on May 8.

But the President was eager to take the credit and use the opportunity to repeatedly take swings at Trump, arguing that his presumptive Republican challenger embraced the same type of “trickle-down economics” that Biden abhors and failed to revive domestic manufacturing during his four years in the White House.

“Folks, during the previous administration, my predecessor made promises, which he broke more than kept, left a lot of people behind in communities like Racine,” President Biden said. “On my watch, we make promises, and we keep promises.”

Trump’s campaign did not address the failure of Foxconn or the political scams surrounding it, but did push back against the success of “Bidenomics.” Republican National Committee chairman Michael Whatle also tried to blame President Biden for Wisconsin’s agricultural situation, a problem created by Trump’s anti-immigration policy that left farms without workers.

Foxconn, meanwhile, claimed its current Wisconsin operation “greatly contributes” to the company, which has invested roughly $1 billion in the state and now employs more than 1,000 people at Foxconn Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Republican U.S. Representative Bryan Steil, who represents the district where President Biden was visiting on May 8, said the Microsoft announcement was good for workers.

After his speech in Sturtevant, President Biden made a campaign stop to speak with Black voters about the stakes of the November election.

Racine County is a critical location. All but five of the past 33 winning presidential candidates carried it. Trump is one of the five. He won Racine County but lost the election. Biden was the first Democrat since 1976 to win Wisconsin without carrying Racine County.

The race is expected to be close in Wisconsin, where four of the past six presidential elections have been decided by less than a percentage point. Biden won by just under 21,000 votes in 2020. A recent Marquette University poll showed that Republican voters in Wisconsin are somewhat more enthusiastic about the election than Democrats.

Biden’s trip to Wisconsin, his fourth of the year and 11th as president, came as his reelection also sharpened its outreach to minority voters on the airwaves. It announced the launch of a new, $14 million digital and television blitz that follows the $30 million effort that began after his State of the Union address in early March.

One of the new ads in the latest ad campaign focuses on Trump’s failed yet determined push to repeal the Affordable Care Act. A significant portion of the $14 million campaign starting Wednesday will go into Black and Hispanic media, as well as Asian American print and radio, according to the campaign.

By the end of May, Biden’s reelection effort will have more than 200 offices and roughly 500 staff members in place, according to Dan Kanninen, the campaign’s battleground director. Those figures include offices in areas that traditionally haven’t seen investments by Democrats in pockets of Michigan, Arizona and North Carolina.

While Microsoft has been ramping up artificial intelligence-driven data center construction around the world, “this one is more important than many because there is more land and ultimately access to power available,” said Smith, who as a child lived in the area where the center is being built.

Once in operation, however, even the most powerful data centers typically employ a relatively small group of full-time employees to oversee them. Microsoft will have about 500, pulling from highly skilled workers in the corridor between Milwaukee and Chicago, Smith said.

However, he argued that the bigger impact for the region would be in the technology itself and broader investments in preparing the Upper Midwest for its impacts.

“This is about the competitiveness of manufacturing in places like Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Ohio,” Smith said.

Colleen Long, Seung Min Kim, and MI Staff

Associated Press


Evan Vucci (AP), Morry Gash (AP), and Dita Alangkara (AP)