The state has always been a tough nut to crack for Clinton. In 2008, she defeated Obama here by less than one percentage point.
This year, her challenges could be similar to the ones she faced in states like Michigan (where she lost, unexpectedly) and Ohio (where she won narrowly).
Between Clinton’s Michigan loss and the Ohio primary, her Democratic presidential campaign retooled its message on trade, adding some meat to the bones of her opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership and focusing special attention on local trade issues.
That’s essentially the message Clinton touted in Indiana on Tuesday afternoon at a steel-manufacturing company in front of an audience of workers and their families.
She focused on the heroism of steel workers who worked in the rubble of the Twin Towers in New York for weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and later suffered illnesses as a result.
But the real focus was on the steel industry, which is inextricably tied to job losses here in the manufacturing sector.
“I’m saying to CEOs who think they can make a quick buck by turning their back on our country ... we are not going to let you take advantage of us anymore,” Clinton said. “I’m going to stand up to both CEOs at home and China abroad.”
She promised to make the “survival” of the steel industry one of her “top” priorities.
On trade, Clinton’s vulnerabilities extend beyond primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has criticized her relentlessly for her past support of trade pacts that he said cost American jobs. They also pose a threat in a general election if Republicans choose Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. Trump has taken a more populist stance on trade that has the potential to resonate.
On Tuesday, Clinton didn’t name Sanders, but repeated a line she has used often against him. It is also a line that could be seen as a critique of Trump as well.
“It’s not enough just to diagnose the problem,” Clinton said. “We all know that we are losing jobs. We all know that we are facing unfair competition.”
“Give me the specifics, don’t just give me the rhetoric and the demagoguery,” she added.
Clinton called out Trump for opposing a higher minimum wage and his Republican rival, Ted Cruz, for suggesting a national right to work law that would undermine unions.
Clinton cited local layoffs at manufacturing plants and pledged to take on China for dumping steel in the United States at artificially low prices.
“They’re trying to solve their domestic economic problems on the backs of American workers,” Clinton said.
Later Tuesday, Clinton was scheduled to tour a General Motors plant in Mishawaka, Ind., a campaign stop focused on her support for the auto bailout.
Bill Clinton also campaigned in Indiana on Tuesday morning.