During GOP Debate, Trump Downplays UAW Strike in Michigan

Former POTUS spoke at a non-unionized auto parts supplier in Michigan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 28, 2023 1:00 AM CDT
During GOP Debate, Trump Was Railing Against Electric Cars
Former President Donald Trump speaks in Clinton Township, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.   (AP Photo/Mike Mulholland)

As his Republican rivals sparred onstage in California at their second primary debate, former President Trump was in battleground Michigan on Wednesday night working to win over blue-collar voters by lambasting President Biden and his push for electric cars in the midst of an autoworkers' strike, the AP reports. "I will not allow under any circumstances the American automobile industry to die," Trump said at Drake Enterprises, a non-unionized auto parts supplier in Clinton Township, about a half-hour outside Detroit. While Trump aides had said the audience would include several hundred current and former UAW members, as well as members of plumbers and pipefitters unions, it also included many non-union workers who support the former president.

The Republican frontrunner's trip came a day after Biden became the first sitting president in US history to walk a picket line as he joined United Auto Workers in Detroit. The dueling appearances had the feel of the opening salvo of the 2024 general election, which increasingly looks like a rematch between Trump and Biden, even though primary voting won't begin until next year. Trump, in his speech, tried to cast Biden as hostile to the auto industry and workers, using extreme rhetoric to claim the industry was "being assassinated." He insisted Biden's embrace of electric vehicles—a key component of his clean-energy agenda—would ultimately lead to lost jobs, amplifying the concerns of some autoworkers who worry that electric cars require fewer people to manufacture and that there is no guarantee factories that produce them will be unionized.

"He's selling you out to China, he's selling you out to the environmental extremists and the radical left," Trump told his crowd, flanked by American flags and pallets of auto parts. He also downplayed the strike as the UAW pushes for higher wages, shorter work weeks, and assurances from the country's top automakers that new electric vehicle jobs will be unionized. While Trump said he supported the workers and hoped they would get a good deal, he also said no deal would matter if proposed pollution limits take effect. "You're all on the picket lines and everything, but it doesn't make a damn bit of difference what you get, because in two years you're all going to be out of business," he said.

(Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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