Former President Donald J. Trump is set to travel to Detroit on the day of the next Republican primary debate, according to sources close to the campaign. Trump intends to inject himself into the labor dispute between striking autoworkers and leading auto manufacturers, making a prime-time speech before current and former union members. This marks the second consecutive primary debate that Trump has skipped in favor of his own counterprogramming. The decision to go to Michigan just days after the United Auto Workers went on strike demonstrates Trump’s focus on a possible rematch with President Biden.
The former president plans to address over 500 workers, including plumbers, pipe-fitters, electricians, and autoworkers, aiming to position himself as an ally to the working class. The campaign is also considering the possibility of a picket line appearance, though logistical challenges may make this unlikely. Trump has historically appealed to union workers despite union leadership’s hostility towards him, and he considers winning states like Michigan crucial to his electoral success.
The Trump campaign has produced a radio ad targeting union workers and men in Detroit and Toledo, Ohio. The ad portrays Trump as aligned with autoworkers, highlighting his support for fair competition and the American dream. It criticizes the Biden administration’s push for the transition to electric vehicles, which the ad refers to as an “Electric Car SCAM.”
The strike, which began last week against the big three Detroit automakers, seeks a 40 percent wage increase over four years. Biden has expressed support for the striking workers, sending top aides to Detroit and emphasizing the importance of fair compensation. The United Auto Workers decided not to endorse Biden this spring due to concerns about the labor aspects of the shift to electric vehicles.
In response to Trump’s plans, the union’s president referred to him as part of the “billionaire class” and criticized an economy that benefits the wealthy at the expense of workers. Trump fired back and criticized the union’s leadership, suggesting that their jobs would be gone due to the production of electric cars in China.
Overall, Trump’s decision to engage with striking autoworkers and highlight his support for the working class indicates his focus on a potential rematch with President Biden in the 2024 election.
Sources: The New York Times