Another Republican primary debate is coming up, meaning Donald Trump has plans to counter-program the oxygen out of the room. While his supposed challengers line up for a second vying for the veepship, this time in California, Trump will address a crowd of current and former union members in a battleground state amid a major auto worker strike.
Trump’s speech in Detroit on Sept. 27 will be primetime, kicking off just as the debate begins at 9:00 p.m. ET at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
The venue and the audience combined signal a rather transparent tactic on the Trump campaign’s part. As President Biden flexes his pro-union bona fides amid the ongoing United Auto Workers strike, Trump is looking for a way to appeal to a broad swath of blue collar workers as well, especially in a state like Michigan that’s lately crept out of his grasp. The strike began last week when workers at the nation’s three largest auto manufacturers walked out as contract negotiations hit a wall. Management at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis has refused to move on key issues like wage increases and the length of the work week.
After announcing his speech in Detroit next week, the Trump campaign also began running a radio ad in the city and in Toledo, Ohio, aiming to establish Trump as a supporter of auto workers without explicitly mentioning the ongoing strike.
Upon announcing his address, Trump told NBC News explicitly that he hoped to garner support from union leadership.
“The auto workers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump,” he said.
Union leadership is hardly impressed. In response, UAW President Shawn Fain pointed to the Trump administration’s tax breaks for the ultra wealthy in lieu of support for Michigan workers.
“Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,” Fain said in a statement. “We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don’t have any understanding what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.”
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