Clinton brings back Rust Belt messaging, hopes to avoid Michigan repeat

Story highlights

  • Sanders surprised many last month by pulling out a narrow win in Michigan
  • Clinton aides are hopeful her message will have more time to permeate in Indiana

Hammond, Indiana (CNN)Hillary Clinton brought a more refined version of her Rust Belt messaging to Indiana on Tuesday, hoping to avoid a repeat of Bernie Sanders' upset victory in Michigan that marked the most stinging defeat of her primary campaign.

Clinton hit Sanders for voting against the second round of auto bailout funding, promised to punish companies that leave the United States after taking taxpayer subsidies and pledged that a Clinton White House would confront China for dumping steel on the international market -- all lines she first rolled out in the Wolverine State.
    "I voted and I will tell you, I am very happy I did, I voted to provide the money to support the American auto industry to get it through that terrible point," Clinton said after taking a tour of an AM General Plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, on Tuesday. "My esteemed opponent in this primary, he voted not to provide the funding the auto industry needed. I really believed then and I believe now, we are all in this together and when one part of our economy, when one group of workers is down, it is in our interest to help them get back up."
    The line was more refined than the one Clinton used against Sanders in Michigan, where she accused the Vermont senator of voting against the auto bailout. Fact-checkers rated that claim to be misleading given Sanders' vote for the first round of bailout money.
    But Clinton aides are hopeful that the similar messaging will be more fruitful in Indiana -- a state aides feel could be fertile territory for a Sanders win -- than it was in Michigan.
    Although public polling going into Michigan showed Clinton with a double-digit lead, Sanders surprised many -- including Clinton's campaign -- by pulling out a narrow win. Sanders' win was widely seen as an upset and raised questions about Clinton's ability to win blue-collar Democrats.
    Those fears were somewhat allayed when Clinton won states such as Ohio, Illinois and Missouri the following week.
    Clinton aides said Tuesday they are hopeful her message will have more time to permeate in Indiana, chalking up Michigan's failures to the way they communicated her views, not her policy proposals. Clinton focused extensively on the Detroit area during the Michigan primary, only briefly venturing to Flint and Grand Rapids and never traveling to the north part of the state.
    Clinton visited two manufacturing plants on Tuesday in Hammond and Mishawaka, and aides said it is likely the former secretary of state will make another trip to the state before the primary on May 3.
    At a steel manufacturing plant in Hammond earlier on the day, Clinton pledged, as president, to "make the steel industry's survival one of my top priorities."
    "It is now our challenge to figure out how we are going to keep those jobs, grow those jobs, support those businesses, support those workers, support those unions so that we can have a renaissance in manufacturing," Clinton said. "I believe passionately we can do this."
    Clinton also touted her exit tax proposal on Tuesday, a plan that would punish companies for moving their headquarters overseas while still benefiting from U.S. law. Under that plan, which Clinton first rolled out at a factory in Detroit, companies who left the United States after taking federal or state tax breaks would be required to pay them back.
    "I am saying to CEOs who think they can make a quick buck by turning their backs on their country, the country that made them successful in the first place, we are not going to let you take advantage of us anymore," Clinton said in Hammond with steel workers in hardhats standing around her.