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Donald Trump will attempt to woo striking autoworkers in Michigan on Wednesday as he skips the Republican presidential debate to focus his attacks on President Joe Biden.
Trump’s stop in Detroit comes on the heels of Biden’s visit to the state on Tuesday, where the president joined striking auto workers on the picket line and supported their bid for a 40% pay raise.
Their dueling stops comes against the backdrop of the second GOP presidential debate, which takes place Wednesday night at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Instead of taking to the debate stage, Trump will address electricians, plumbers and pipe-fitters in a primetime address.
Donald Trump will woo autoworkers in Michigan on Wednesday instead of taking part in the second GOP primary debate
Trump leads by double digits in polls of the Republican presidential primary contest.
With a massive lead, his campaign appears to be pivoting toward the general election fight, which increasingly looks like a rematch between Trump and Biden.
Both men are working to win over blue-collar voters in the critical battleground state. Trump won Michigan in the 2016 election, beating Hillary Clinton. But Biden took it back for Democrats in 2020, beating Trump.
Trump, however, wants to win it back along with the Democratic strongholds of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Those 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 emphasizing his Scranton roots and longtime ties to unions and the middle class. Trump promised to resurrect dying manufacturing towns and blasted global trade deals.
While Biden marched the picket line when he was in Michigan on Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to deliver primetime remarks at Drake Enterprises, a non-unionized auto parts supplier about a half-hour outside Detroit.
The former president has taken some heat for going to a non-union operation and for the fact his speech is 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 working middle-class voters in Michigan, union and non-union alike. Joe Biden meanwhile wants all working middle-class voters in Michigan, union and non-union alike, to transition 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 site in Michigan
A person holds a sign featuring Donald Trump’s mugshot outside of his rally location
In his remarks, Trump is expected to repeat his criticism of Biden’s push for electronic vehicles. The former president argues that would put more auto workers in the unemployment line.
Miller noted that ‘every autoworker in Michigan knows that Crooked Joe Biden’s insane EV mandate will ‘finish off’ the U.S. auto industry, and union leadership has been warning of this threat for years.’
Biden, however, argues his clean-energy agenda, including that shift toward electric vehicles, will create new manufacturing jobs. He has set a goal that half of all new vehicle sales be electric by 2030.
The United Auto Workers (UAW), which endorsed Biden in the 2020 election, hasn’t endorsed a candidate yet in the 2024 contest.
UAW workers are worried that new battery manufacturing plants for electric vehicles won’t be unionized and that is a key concern for them in this round of negotiations with automakers.
Trump is also expected to blast Biden’s economic record. Polls show voters are unhappy with the rate of inflation 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 took a swipe at Trump, saying he serves a ‘billionaire class.’
When asked on CNN about Trump’s trip to Detroit, Fain said: ‘I see no point in meeting with him, because I don’t think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for.’
‘He serves a billionaire class and that’s what’s wrong this country,’ Fain noted.
He also said that ‘I find the pathetic irony that the former president is going to hold a rally for union members at a non-union business.’
Fain, who stood beside Biden during the president’s visit on Tuesday, is not expected to appear with Trump.
His is not the only autoworker frustrated with the former president.
Some are angry at Trump for what they see as unfulfilled promises of automotive jobs – vows he made as president that never came to pass.
And they point to Trump’s promise in 2017 that manufacturing jobs at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, are ‘all coming back.’ Instead the plant closed in 2019.