By David Shepardson and Tim Reid
(RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump plans to give a speech in Detroit on September 27 to a crowd of union workers, skipping the second Republican presidential debate, an aide said on Monday, and instead plugging in in a dispute between striking workers. and major American automakers.
The prime-time speech is expected to be aimed at auto workers and other members of workers’ unions, the aide added. The speech comes as Trump has been sharply critical of President Joe Biden’s electric vehicle policies and urged auto workers to support his candidacy.
The event will mark the second time Trump has skipped a Republican presidential primary debate, in a race in which, despite his myriad legal problems, Trump leads his closest rival by nearly 50 percentage points, according to the most recent polls ‘opinion.
Trump’s speech signals an effort by his team to look beyond his party’s White House nominating contest and set his sights on a likely general election rematch with Biden next November.
The speech to union members will be part of an intensive campaign by Trump to win back some of the working-class voters who defected to Biden in his 2020 victory against Trump.
The United Auto Workers union last week began a strike against the three largest U.S. automakers over wages and other benefits, a labor dispute that could pose significant political danger to Biden.
Although Biden has touted his support for unions for decades, there is anger among some auto workers that he has not done enough to stand up to manufacturers and their executives amid the industry’s huge profits.
Trump is trying to exploit the dispute and will try to persuade auto workers and other union members that he will stand with them if he becomes president again.
Biden’s campaign sharply criticized Trump for his policies ahead of the speech on Monday.
“Instead of standing with workers, Trump cut taxes for the super-rich while auto companies closed their doors and shipped American jobs overseas,” the Biden campaign spokesman said in a statement. Ammar Moussa. “No self-serving photo op can erase the four years in which Trump abandoned union workers and sided with his ultra-rich friends.”
Trump recently said Biden is “waging war” on the auto industry through electric vehicle mandates and said the UAW should support him.
The current strike also has profound geographic resonance for next year’s general election because many of the affected workers reside in three key Midwest battleground states – Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – where next year’s presidential contest could be decided.
Trump missed the first Republican presidential debate in Wisconsin last month. The second debate will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute in Simi Valley, California, about 45 miles (72 km) north of Los Angeles.
(Reporting by David Shepardson and Tim Reid; additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Chris Reese and Jamie Freed)