Former President Donald Trump will not attend the next Republican primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, but will instead travel to Detroit to meet with autoworkers.
In addition, Trump, 77, will give a prime time speech to coincide with the debate.
His visit comes as striking Motor City workers are at odds with the nation’s largest automakers. Trump has been critical of the union’s leadership in Detroit, accusing them of selling out their members.
During the last debate in August, Trump interviewed former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
He said in an interview with another former Fox host Megyn Kelly that he would debate Biden but was unlikely to appear at a Republican debate. ‘I do not see it. Why would I do it?’” he said.
At the time of the first debate in Milwaukee, Trump wrote on Truth Social: “The public knows who I am and what a successful presidency I have had.”
Among those scheduled to meet with Trump are more than 500 workers, including auto workers, plumbers, pipe fitters and electricians, reports the New York Times.
Donald Trump announced this week that he is skipping the second Republican presidential debate to meet with striking auto workers in Detroit
It is the first time in history that all three unionized American automakers have gone on strike at the same time
United Auto Workers member Brian Rooster Heppner raises his fist as he cheers during a rally in Detroit on Friday
Members of the United Auto Workers march through downtown Detroit on Friday. The UAW carries out a strike against Ford, Stellantis and General Motors
Trump has yet to publicly take a side in the dispute between the 150,000-strong Union of Auto Workers and the auto companies.
A source close to his campaign said the former Apprentice presenter is unlikely to head to the picket lines due to security concerns. The union is aiming for a 36 percent pay increase over four years and equal pay for new employees.
Trump won Michigan in 2016 and flipped it from 2012, one of several states where he upset Hillary Clinton. In 2020, President Joe Biden carried the state by more than 150,000 votes.
A recent one CBS News A poll shows that Trump has a one percent lead over the incumbent president in a possible election.
The Times report notes that a new Trump TV ad has launched in Michigan and Ohio.
“All they’ve ever wanted is to compete fairly globally and get their fair share of the American dream. Donald Trump calls them great Americans and has always stood by them,” the narrator says in the ad.
In response to Trump’s announcement, a spokesperson for Biden’s 2024 campaign said the real estate mogul “is going to Michigan next week to lie to Michigan workers and pretend he hasn’t spent his entire failed presidency selling out every time them.’
During an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump accused UAW members of being “sold out by leadership.”
He was also heavily critical of UAW President Shawn Fain.
Trump has said UAW President Shawn Fain is ‘not doing well’
Members of the UAW union march through the streets of downtown Detroit after a rally on the first day of the UAW strike in Detroit
Biden, the self-described “most pro-union president in American history,” spoke to UAW boss Shawn Fain and the three car company CEOs in a futile last-ditch effort to avoid a strike
“I don’t know the gentleman, but I know his name very well, and I don’t think he represents his union well. Because in three years he won’t have a union anymore. Those jobs will all disappear because all those electric cars will be made in China,” Trump said.
Trump made similar claims on his Truth Social platform this weekend, calling electric cars a “disaster for both the United Auto Workers and the American consumer.”
“If this happens, the United Auto workers will be wiped out along with all the other auto workers in the United States,” Trump added.
Fain has said it would be a “disaster” if Trump won in 2024, but has declined to back Biden over issues related to electric cars. In an appearance on CBS Face the Nation, Fain said his union’s support “will be earned, not freely given.” We expect action. No words.’
Regarding Trump’s visit to Detroit, Fain told the Times that “every fiber of our union is being used to fight the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers.”
“We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires who have no idea what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet, and expect them to solve the problems of the working class,” Fain continued.
Biden has expressed support for striking workers and called on Ford, Stellantis and General Motors to improve their pay proposals.
Since 2020, Biden has “appointed labor allies to the National Labor Relations Board and federal judges,” reports the Washington Post. A 2021 legislation gave unions more bargaining power.
Trump’s biggest challenger in the Republican primaries, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, recently vetoed a piece of pro-electric vehicle legislation that received bipartisan support in the Sunshine State.
DeSantis addressed Trump’s decision not to attend the first GOP debate, saying, “You have to earn the nomination, and … things like these debates are important parts of the process.”
The following debate will be moderated by Fox News’ Stuart Varney and Dana Perino, alongside Univision’s Ilia Calderon.