As his Republican rivals gathered onstage in California for their second primary debate, Donald Trump was in battleground Michigan Wednesday night working to win over blue collar voters by lambasting President Joe Biden and his push for electric cars in the midst of an autoworkers’ strike.
“A vote for President Trump means the future of the automobile will be made in America,” Trump said at Drake Enterprises, a non-unionized auto parts supplier in Clinton Township, about a half-hour outside Detroit.
The Republican front-runner’s trip came a day after Biden became the first sitting president in U.S. history to walk a picket line as he joined United Auto Workers in Detroit. The union is pushing for higher wages, shorter work weeks and assurances from the country’s top automakers that new electric vehicle jobs will be unionized.
The dueling appearances preview what will likely be a chief dynamic of the 2024 general election, which increasingly looks like a rematch between Trump and Biden. Michigan is expected to again be a critical battleground state as both candidates try to paint themselves as champions of the working class.
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 — will 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, people who have no idea how bad this is going to be for the environment,” Trump told his crowd, flanked by American flags and pallets of auto parts.
He also downplayed the strike. While he said he supported the workers and hoped they would get a good deal, he said any deal won’t matter if new electric vehicle mandates take effect.
“Your current negotiations don’t mean as much as you think,” he said, warning union leaders that they risked “committing suicide.”
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