To hear Donald Trump tell it, blue-collar workers here are suffering as much as ever, their livelihoods endangered by the familiar combination of foreign competition and U.S. companies eager to hold down labor costs.
It's Trump's mantra. He repeats it again and again at campaign stops like the one he made here last week. A leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump has made the health of the U.S. manufacturing a cornerstone of his insurgent campaign.
In doing so, Trump is targeting a big pool of potential voters among disaffected blue-collar workers, even if it means alienating the business community and conservative free-market advocates and brings accusations of demagoguery.
Check out the many faces of Donald Trump:
The many faces of Donald Trump
With anti-trade message, Trump targets 'Reagan Democrats'
FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 26: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump is campaigning in Texas, days ahead of the Super Tuesday primary. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 19, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump gestures during the Republican Presidential Debate, hosted by CNN, at The Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP PHOTO/ ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 19, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
RENO, NV - JANUARY 10: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at the Reno Event Center on January 10, 2016 in Reno, Nevada. Donald Trump continued to raise doubts Sunday about rival Ted Cruzs eligibility for the presidency, saying Republicans will risk losing a lawsuitand potentially the nations highest officeif they nominate Cruz as their candidate.
(Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - DECEMBER 16: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guest gathered during a campaign event at the International Air Response facility on December 16, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. Trump is in Arizona the day after the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by CNN in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Republican Candidate Donald Trump arrives to speaks to the press with Rev. Darrell Scott(R), senior pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights after meetings with prominent African American clerics at Trump Tower in New York November 30 ,2015. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on November 23, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Trump spoke about immigration and Obamacare, among other topics, to around 14,000 supporters at the event. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
DORAL, FL - OCTOBER 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump attends a campaigns rally In Florida at the Trump National Doral on October 23, 2015 in Doral, Florida. Trump leads most polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. (Photo by Johnny Louis/FilmMagic)
COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves a campaign event September 23, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Earlier today, Trump tweeted 'FoxNews has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won't be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future.' (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Donald Trump greets supporters, tourists and the curious after taping an interview with Anderson Cooper at a Trump owned building in mid-town Manhattan on July 22, 2015 in New York City. Trump, who is running for president on a Republican ticket, has come under intensifying criticism for his behavior on the campaign trail. The billionaire's most recent comments on Senator John McCain's war record in Vietnam have resulted in almost universal criticism from fellow candidates. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, left, looks on as Sam Clovis, newly appointed national co-chairman of Trumps campaign, speaks during a news conference ahead of a rally at Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. President Barack Obama's top business ambassador dismissed Trump's call for a wall along the Mexico border, saying the U.S. is focused instead on expanding business with one of its biggest trade partners. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BILOXI, MS - JANUARY 02: Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump pauses with supporters after speaking at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on January 2, 2016 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Trump, who has strong support from Southern voters, spoke to thousands in the small Mississippi city on the Gulf of Mexico. Trump continues to split the GOP establishment with his populist and controversial views on immigration, muslims and some of his recent comments on women. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
LAREDO, TEXAS - JULY 23: Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to the media at a press conference during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. Trump's recent comments, calling some immigrants from Mexico as drug traffickers and rapists, have stirred up reactions on both sides of the aisle. Although fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has denounced Trump's comments and his campaign in general, U.S. Senator from Texas Ted-Cruz has so far refused to bash his fellow Republican nominee. (Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 15: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump eats a pork chop on a stick and gives a thumbs up sign to fairgoers at the Iowa State Fair on August 15, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage and touring the fairgrounds. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker participate in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
OSKALOOSA, IA - JULY 25: Republican presidential hopeful businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for a rally on July 25, 2015 in Oskaloosa, Iowa. During his last visit to the state Trump sparked controversy when he said Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a former POW, was not a war hero. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
TURNBURRY, SCOTLAND - JUNE 08: Donald Trump Visits Turnberry Golf Club, after its $10 Million refurbishment, on June 8, 2015 in Turnberry, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
DERRY, NH - AUGUST 19: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hugs an American flag as he takes the stage for a town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015. (Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IOWA - AUGUST 15: Donald Trump at the Iowa State Fair on August 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa State Fair is one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the United States. The annual fair, the largest event in Iowa, attracts over a million visitors each year. The fair runs through August 23. After a brief walk around its time for Mr Trump to board his club cart again and leave the fair. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
AYR, SCOTLAND - JULY 30: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
TURNBURRY, SCOTLAND - JUNE 08: Donald Trump visits Turnberry Golf Club, after its $10 Million refurbishment on June 8, 2015 in Turnberry, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, gestures while speaking during The Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, July 18, 2015. The sponsor, The FAMiLY LEADER, is a 'pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-life organization which champions the principle that God is the ultimate leader of the family.' Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 16: Donald Trump arrives at NBCUniversal's 2015 Winter TCA Tour - Day 2 at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 16, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive officer of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, pauses while speaking during a news conference at Trump Towers in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. 'I have signed the pledge,' he said, referring to a document stating that he would not run as an independent candidate in the event that he does not win the Republican nomination. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US tycoon Donald Trump arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, on February 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
EDISON, NJ - AUGUST 30: A golf fan takes a 'selfie' with presidential candidate Donald Trump during the final round of The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club on August 30, 2015 in Edison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - JULY 10: Donald Trump plays a round of golf after the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland. The controversial Â£100m course opens to the public on Sunday July 15. Further plans to build hotels and homes on the site have been put on hold until a decision has been made on the building of an offshore windfarm nearby. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
BIRCH RUN, MI - AUGUST 11: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a press conference before delivering the keynote address at the Genesee and Saginaw Republican Party Lincoln Day Event August 11, 2015 in Birch Run, Michigan. This is Trump's first campaign event since his Republican debate last week. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
BOCA RATON, FL - APRIL 16: Billionaire Donald Trump speaks to a crowd at the 2011 Palm Beach County Tax Day Tea Party April 16, 2011 at Sanborn Square in Boca Raton, Florida. Trump is considering a bid for the 2012 precidency and is expected to announce his running in the coming weeks. (Photo by John W. Adkisson/Getty Images)
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He vows to slap penalties on goods produced by U.S. companies outside the country, make it harder for China and others to export their goods, and tear up trade deals that he says hurt the U.S. industry. "I wonder how many Chevrolets are in the middle of Tokyo?' he told the Anderson crowd to applause. "I would say none."
And at the economy-themed Republican debate held Wednesday in Boulder, Colorado., Trump pledged to "bring jobs back" from China and Mexico.
Polls show that the bulk of Trump's support comes from men who lack a college degree and make less than $40,000 a year, the kind of workers who once formed the backbone of the U.S. manufacturing economy. They have helped propel Trump to the top of popularity rankings in South Carolina, a key early primary state, where he is outpacing rival Ben Carson.
"Some of the Republicans get so tied up with free trade," said Lee Cole, a Republican attorney from nearby Williamston who attended Trump's event. "Over the past 20 years, we've lost all of our manufacturing jobs," Cole said of his hometown. "Anything that talks about getting some of that back I think really resonates well here."
Government data shows that less than 30 percent of Americans have four-year college degrees and more than half of U.S. workers make less than $30,000 a year, so at stake is a vast pool of potential voters.
"He's tapped into an uneasiness, and he's done it cleverly," said Chip Felkel, a Republican strategist in Greenville, South Carolina, who is not aligned with Trump. "He's played it to the hilt."
At the Anderson event, Trump talked up his blue-collar support, comparing himself to Franklin Roosevelt. His campaign brings up another name: Ronald Reagan.
Ed McMullen, Trump's campaign strategist in South Carolina, says the billionaire contender has his sights on "Reagan Democrats" - working-class voters who tend to support moderates. Those moderate voters famously switched sides and helped Republican Reagan win the 1980 election and the Trump campaign believes it could happen again in 2016 if he makes it to the general election.
"I don't understand how Trump plans to actually execute many of these goals - some of which are conflicting."
According to a Pew Research Center survey taken late last month, Trump's supporters tend to attend church less frequently than the entire Republican electorate and more often identify themselves as "moderate" or "liberal."
Critics say that Trump is proffering an outdated, simplistic, and overly pessimistic view of the U.S. economy, one that fails to grasp the multi-national complexity of global manufacturing.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in South Carolina where 700 international firms employ 115,900 people, according to State Department of Commerce data. That makes for the highest percentage of private-industry workforce employed by foreign-owned firms.
Just up the road from Trump's stop in Anderson sits a 5-million square foot German-owned BMW (BMWG.DE) plant that employs 8,000. Nearby is a Michelin (MICP.PA) facility, one of nine in the state owned by the French company. And Swedish automaker Volvo (VOLVb.ST) earlier this year announced plans to build a plant near Charleston, that could end up employing 4,000 workers.
"All of these companies are part of the modern global supply chain," says Scott Lincicome, a trade policy expert with the conservative Cato Institute, calling Trump's ideas "completely unmoored from reality."
"It's ironic he would go to the one's country's burgeoning manufacturing hubs to bemoan the state of manufacturing."
Femi Fadeyi, an engineer for German-owned SEW Eurodrive, an industrial equipment firm that has a facility in nearby Lyman, said he moved from Colorado during the height of the recession because of the economic opportunity.
An independent, Fadeyi said Trump made him follow the Republican race, but he remained skeptical.
"I don't understand how Trump plans to actually execute many of these goals - some of which are conflicting," Fadeyi told Reuters.
Still, even as the state's workforce returned to pre-recession levels already in June 2013, sooner than most of the country, it has only recovered 40 percent of manufacturing jobs lost in the downturn, according to Manufacturers' News, Inc., a publisher and compiler of industrial directories and databases. The textile sector has been particularly hit hard, with abandoned mills dotting the landscape around Anderson and Greenville, allowing Trump's message to resonate with many.
Trump is hoping to develop an early momentum in early primaries held February in Iowa and South Carolina and build on that in March in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, and Tennessee, all states with sizeable manufacturing sectors accounting for more than 10 of the economy.
"People see all that, see those investments, but there is something going on where they don't personally feel a benefit from it," Felkel said. "Sometimes, it's easier to vote against something than for something."