GREENVILLE, S.C. — Upstate South Carolina is a land of contradiction.
One one hand, it's the home of BMW's mammoth Spartanburg plant — a monument to the promise of free trade, a symbol of resurgent U.S. auto manufacturing and a source of growing economic prosperity across the state, from factories to ports to downtowns.
On the other hand, it's home to a loyal following of President Donald Trump, who has decried the spread of German brands in the U.S. as a threat to the economy and whose tariff war with China and threats to tax imported vehicles and parts could put that prosperity at risk.
So one might expect the election campaign here in South Carolina's 4th Congressional District — where Spartanburg's own Rep. Trey Gowdy is vacating his seat after four terms — to shape up as a referendum on the president's trade policy.
If that's the case, then the president's side is winning by a mile.
"I'm a fan of international trade because I feel like it promotes growth," Michael Watts, an elderly resident of Greenville, says during a sidewalk encounter.
But he quickly adds: "I am for tariffs because I think that it will even the playing field. It could cause some pain for a short period of time, but I think, overall, eventually things will even out."
The sense that this region can weather an economic hit is a telling sign of how much it has rebounded since BMW arrived.
Downtown Greenville on a hot weekday in late August is a mix of bustling activity and the relaxed pace of the Deep South. Main Street, a quaint thoroughfare blanketed by a canopy of trees, slowly comes to life by 9 a.m. as workers head to their offices. Upscale boutiques, retail shops, cafes and restaurants line the streets.