Donald Trump will try to woo striking auto workers in Michigan on Wednesday as he skips the Republican presidential debate to focus his attacks on President Joe Biden.
Trump’s stop in Detroit follows Biden’s visit to the state Tuesday, where the president joined striking auto workers on the picket line and supported their bid for a 40% wage increase.
Their dueling stops come against the backdrop of the GOP’s second presidential debate, taking place Wednesday evening at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Instead of entering the debate, Trump will address electricians, plumbers and pipefitters in a prime-time speech.
Outside the venue, dueling groups of pro-Trump supporters and Trump protesters shouted at each other as cars honked as they raced past on the highway. A plane flew overhead with the message ‘Trump Sold Us Out.’ A drum line marched through the cheers for the former president.
Donald Trump will court autoworkers in Michigan on Wednesday instead of participating in the Republican Party’s second primary debate
Trump leads by double digits in the Republican presidential primary polls.
With a huge lead, his campaign appears to be focusing on the general election battle, which is increasingly looking like a rematch between Trump and Biden.
Both men are working to win over working-class voters in this critical battleground state. Trump won Michigan in the 2016 election, defeating Hillary Clinton. But Biden took it back for the Democrats in 2020 and defeated Trump.
However, Trump wants to win it back together with the Democratic strongholds Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These three Rustbelt states were key to his victory in 2016 and to Biden’s victory in 2020.
Both men appealed to working-class votes: Biden emphasized his Scranton roots and his longstanding ties to unions and the middle class. Trump promised to revive dying manufacturing cities and destroyed global trade deals.
While Biden marched along the picket line while in Michigan on Tuesday, Trump will deliver prime-time remarks at Drake Enterprises, a non-union auto parts supplier about a half hour outside Detroit.
The former president has drawn some criticism for going to a non-union operation and for the fact that his speech is by invitation only.
His campaign said Trump is fighting to protect all middle-class jobs, not just those of union members.
“President Trump is fighting to protect the jobs of all middle-class working voters in Michigan, both union and non-union. Joe Biden, meanwhile, wants all working, middle-class voters in Michigan, both union and non-union, to move to the unemployment line,” Trump adviser Jason Miller said.
President Joe Biden walked the picket line with striking auto workers in Michigan
Trump supporters gathered outside Trump’s speech in Michigan
A person holds a sign with Donald Trump’s mugshot outside his rally location
In his remarks, Trump is expected to repeat his criticism of Biden’s push for electronic vehicles. The former president claims this would put more auto workers on the unemployment line.
Miller noted that “every auto worker in Michigan knows that Crooked Joe Biden’s insane EV mandate will ‘kill’ the American auto industry, and union leaders have been warning of this threat for years.”
However, Biden argues that his clean energy agenda, including the shift to electric vehicles, will create new manufacturing jobs. He has set a goal that half of all new car sales will be electric by 2030.
The United Auto Workers (UAW), which supported Biden in the 2020 election, has not yet endorsed a candidate for the 2024 election.
UAW workers are concerned that new electric vehicle battery plants will not be unionized, and that is a major concern for them in this round of negotiations with automakers.
Trump is also expected to destroy Biden’s economic record. Polls show voters are unhappy with the inflation rate and Biden’s stewardship of the economy.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain (left) joined President Joe Biden on the picket line in Michigan on Tuesday
Meanwhile, UAW President Shawn Fain lashed out at Trump, saying he is in the “billionaire class.”
When asked on CNN about Trump’s trip to Detroit, Fain said, “I don’t see any point in meeting with him because I don’t think the man has any concern about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for stands. ‘
“He serves a class of billionaires and that is what is wrong in this country,” Fain noted.
He also said, “I find it pathetically ironic that the former president is going to hold a meeting for union members at a non-union company.”
Fain, who stood next to Biden during the president’s visit on Tuesday, is not expected to appear with Trump.
He’s not the only autoworker frustrated with the former president.
Some are angry at Trump for what they see as unfulfilled promises about automotive jobs — promises he made as president that never materialized.
And they point to Trump’s 2017 promise that manufacturing jobs at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, will “all come back.” Instead, the factory was closed in 2019.