Biden lauds new Microsoft center on the same site where Trump's Foxconn project failed

Construction will start on a new data center from Microsoft, whose president credits the Biden administration’s economic policies.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks
Posted at 6:01 PM, May 08, 2024

President Joe Biden on Wednesday laced into Donald Trump 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. “Look what happened. 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 with The Associated Press 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 Wednesday.

But President Biden 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 President Biden abhors and failed to revive domestic manufacturing during his four years in the White House.


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“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 didn't address Foxconn, but the Republican former president often says the economy was in a much better position when he was in office and will be again should he win in 2024. Republican National Committee chairman Michael Whatley said President Biden's trip was an attempt to “save face in Racine County as Wisconsinites feel the pain of Bidenomics.”

“Manufacturing has stalled, family farms are shuttering, and costs are up for everything from electricity and gas to food and housing,” Whatley said. “It’s no wonder why Biden is losing in Wisconsin and battleground states across the country: his policies have failed and people want President Trump back in office.”

Foxconn, meanwhile, said 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. Rep. Bryan Steil, who represents the district where President Biden was visiting Wednesday, said the Microsoft announcement was good for workers. But Steil said President Biden is using it to hide his record on failing to control rising inflation and said President Biden was taking credit for private-sector work in the region that began a decade ago, much of it for the Foxconn project.

As for Trump, he was back in Florida on his day off from his New York hush money trial on Wednesday, meeting at his Mar-a-Lago club with people who, as part of a promotion, bought digital trading card NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to publicly discuss it. The “MugShot Edition” NFTs featured images of Trump as a cowboy, with lightning coming out of his hands, walking by the U.S. Capitol and taking the place of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial.

Later, Biden met with about 50 Black supporters and volunteers at a community center in nearby Racine, noting that he first got into politics “because of the African-American community.”

He also briefly laid out the stakes for the election, warning of the potential risk to democracy and Trump’s threats to “get rid of all the stuff that we’ve done.”

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. Joe 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.

President 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, President 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.