U.S. President Donald Trump will give a speech today about tax reform in Springfield, Missouri, and one of the reasons he choose the Ozarks city was because of its historic link to Route 66.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, a senior White House official mentioned Route 66 prominently during a conference call with reporters:
“This is America’s Main Street, and the president’s plan is to bring Main Street back,” the official told reporters in a conference call, describing a “really cool kind of nostalgic aspect” to the idea of Route 66 as a symbol of “booming industry” in America’s history.
“I think it really works well symbolically with where the president is trying to get us back to, where those roadways are once again filled with American-made products being transported by American truckers to American consumers,” the official continued.
This line of messaging aligns with Trump’s “America First” strategy, and the president may speak along these lines when he outlines why he thinks the U.S. needs tax reform at the Loren Cook Company on Wednesday afternoon.
The official also acknowledged Missouri has some strategic value to getting tax reform passed by Congress.
The speech later today is closed to the public. The White House official said the administration wanted to roll out the tax-reform plan in a smaller, more controlled setting.
Regardless of what you think of Trump or his policies, he or his aides latched on to a symbolic news hook — historic Route 66 — that too many national politicians seem to overlook. In the nearly 12 years Route 66 News has been online, I can think of only a handful of times a president or presidential candidate has mentioned Route 66 while on the stump.
If a prominent politician gets linked to the Mother Road, it’s often incidental, like when John McCain visited Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis for a snack or when Barack Obama greeted customers at the now-closed Bell’s restaurant in Lebanon, Missouri.
In Trump’s case, some thought was put into it beforehand.
UPDATE: KY3 in Springfield posted a transcript of Trump’s speech.
It’s clear he used “Route 66” and its nickname, “Main Street of America,” as a metaphor to link up his tax-reform proposal.
Here are two key excerpts from the speech:
But I’m especially pleased to be here in Springfield, the birthplace of a great American icon, the legendary Route 66. Who would have known that? (Applause.)
This is the place where the “Main Street of America” got its start, and this is where America’s main street will begin its big, beautiful comeback that — you are seeing it right now. This is a comeback of historic proportions. You’re seeing it happen right now. (Applause.) Right? You’re seeing it.
We’re here today to launch our plans to bring back Main Street by reducing the crushing tax burden on our companies and on our workers. […]
For many decades, Route 66 captured the American spirit. The communities along this historic route were a vivid symbol of America’s booming industry. Truck drivers hauled made-in-America goods along this vital artery of commerce. Families passed through bustling towns on their way to explore the great American West. And high-quality manufacturing jobs lifted up communities, gave Americans a paycheck that could support a family. Mr. Cook is a great example of the people that do it. (Applause.) Stand up. Stand up Mr. Cook. Stand up. (Applause.) I think they like you. And provided millions of our fellow citizens with the pride and dignity that comes with work.
But, in recent years, millions of Americans have watched that prosperity slip away in the rearview mirror. And it wasn’t pleasant to watch, especially for me. I would sit back — I was in business — and I could see what was happening. It wasn’t good.
If we want to renew our prosperity, and to restore opportunity, then we must reduce the tax burden on our companies and on our workers. (Applause.)
For a full report on the speech, go to the Springfield News-Leader’s report.
And here’s a video of the speech, in full:
(Image of downtown Springfield, Missouri, by Mark Goebel via Flickr)