(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Kelly Craft)

Did U.S. Ambassador To Canada Barb Trump During Detroit Speech?

Unusual to be supporting a bridge and not a wall

July 17, 2018 - 12:52 pm

(WWJ) Kelly Knight Craft, the United States ambassador to Canada, made comments some perceived as pointed about her role under President Donald Trump during a much-ballyhooed groundbreaking on the Gordie Howe International Bridge, the span that will connect Canada to the United States for seamless travel.

"Some may find it paradoxical that a representative of the Trump administration is here to break ground for a bridge rather than, say, maybe a wall," she said to the crowd of movers, shakers and media who attended the groundbreaking. "But the world is full of contradictions." 

That remark came after a homespun story about the things she shares with hockey great Gordie Howe -- and the things she doesn't, like the kind of pride that would make one want to send press clippings back home.

After tossing out anecdotes about the bridge's namesake Gordie Howe, Craft, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, said this:

"I really loved it when he (Howe) said, 'I'm just a lucky old farm boy," Craft recounted. She added a tale about a young Howe clipping photos of himself from the newspaper in a Red Wings uniform to prove to everyone back home "that he played in the NHL."

"Some days, I'm tempted to cut and send them back home, too," said Craft, a Glasgow, Ky., native. "Then again, some days, not so much."

The crowd laughed.

Craft is a Kentucky business woman who threw her support to Trump in 2016 and contributed seven figures to his presidential election campaign. Her husband owns a billion-dollar coal company. 

Craft was one of several notables who spoke during the groundbreaking for the The $2.1-billion Gordie Howe bridge project, which is expected to be completed in 2022. Canada is financing the project, along with a $250-million customs plaza on the U.S.. side. Michigan will repay its share of the cost via toll fees on the American side. When it's complete, the bridge will have the longest main span of any cable-stayed bridge in North America 

Craft's speech came in the midst of a tough week for President Donald Trump, who has had previously ardent supporters and members of his own party lash him with criticism over a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump appeared unfazed by the verbal lashing Tuesday, Tweeting, "I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way - the Fake News is going Crazy!" 

The two references Craft made, to the wall and to unappealing news coverage, stem from two things: The president's long boast about building a wall between the United States and Mexico, and to more recent skirmishes with Canada. Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, saying past deals were unfair to America. Canada, China, the European Union, Mexico and Turkey set retaliatory tariffs on $23 billion worth of U.S.. goods.

Trump has also insulted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter, claiming he's "very dishonest and weak” and makes up “false statements.”