Apple can’t seem to avoid the spotlight.
Donald Trump singled out the tech giant at the end of a long speech Monday, chastising the company and others for sending business abroad. If that criticism sounds familiar, that’s because it is: Apple found itself under fire for its outsourcing practices during the 2012 presidential campaign.
“We’re going to get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries,” the Republican presidential candidate told a crowd at Virginia’s Liberty University on Monday.
Apple declined to respond to Trump’s remarks. On its website, the company says it directly employs 76,000 people in the United States. The Mac Pro is also designed and assembled in Austin, Texas, and the company boasts sourcing parts, materials or equipment from at least 31 U.S. states.
Trump’s promise came at the end of a long speech in which Trump vowed to make American businesses pay for moving factories abroad. At one point, he suggested a 35 percent tax on products crossing the border back into America to threaten businesses to stay, though he almost immediately added: “I don’t want to do that because I’m a free-trader.”
The GOP front-runner- who reportedly used an iPhone as recently as September – only recently added Apple to his attack list, and his criticism of the company has become a popular line at his rallies.
But Apple has been here before.
In 2012, CNN’s Candy Crowley asked President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, to weigh in on Apple’s outsourcing practices.
“iPad, the Macs, the iPhones, they are all manufactured in China,” Crowley said. “One of the major reasons is labor is so much cheaper there. How do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?”
Romney answered first, calling for leveling the playing field between the two nations and making American businesses more attractive to entrepreneurs. Obama suggested that the low-wage jobs are lost for good and said the United States should focus on higher-skilled jobs instead.
“If we’re not training engineers to make sure that they are equipped here in this country, then companies won’t come here,” he said. “Those investments are what’s going to help to make sure that we continue to lead this world economy, not just next year, but 10 years from now, 50 years from now, 100 years from now.”
As reported at the time in The Washington Post, Obama echoed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who reportedly made the same argument to the president at a February 2011 dinner. Apple needs more engineers if it wants to manufacture in the United States, Jobs said, according to biographer Walter Isaacson.
“You can’t find that many in America to hire,” Jobs said. “If you could educate those engineers, we could move more manufacturing plants here.”
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.
Trump is consistent in criticizing Apple. In a video posted to his blog after Obama’s 2012 State of the Union speech, Trump cited outsourcing as his only complaint about the company.
“The only thing I don’t like about Apple, and you can’t say much, is that why don’t they make their product here?” he asked. “When you think of Apple, you think of nothing but good. But the bad thing is their products are made in China for the most part. Wouldn’t it be great and wouldn’t it be a great story if they could start making their products in the U.S.A.?”