Former President Donald Trump will speak in Detroit to current and former members of the autoworkers union on Sept. 27, the day of the second Republican primary debate, according to three people familiar with the plan.
The news of the trip comes days after autoworkers in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio began strikes targeting plants run by Big Three car manufacturers. The New York Times first reported Trump’s plans.
This will be the second time Trump, the current front-runner in the GOP race, decides to forgo a 2024 presidential debate. The former president skipped the first debate in August and instead sat for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
The GOP debate will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, Calif.
Trump’s team has not yet released details on where the speech will be held, but it is expected he will address over 500 union workers representing different trades, including autoworkers. And while a visit to the picket line has been discussed, a person familiar said it was “unlikely” Trump would make a visit due to logistics.
Trump plans to give his speech during prime time, potentially conflicting with — and overshadowing — the GOP debate in California.
Trump has not officially weighed in on the strike, although he posted to Truth Social on Sunday night, “The United Autoworkers are being sold down the “drain” with this all Electric Car SCAM.” Along with Trump’s visit to Detroit, his team also plans to release a radio ad targeting union workers.
In a statement, UAW President Shawn Fain was not the least bit welcoming.
“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. “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.”
Trump was critical of Fain during an interview that was taped before UAW workers began their strike.
“I’m on the side of making our country great,” Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump.”
A Trump campaign radio ad set to air in Detroit and Toledo, Ohio, attacked another leader, President Joe Biden.
“He’s turned his back on the autoworkers,” the ad says of Biden, “by cutting a deal that uses American tax dollars to help fund China’s electric car business. That’s a stake in the heart for American autoworkers, and they can count on President Trump to change that.”
A campaign spokesperson for Biden took issue with Trump’s view of events.
“Donald Trump is going to Michigan next week to lie to Michigan workers and pretend he didn’t spend much of his entire failed presidency selling them out at every turn,” Ammar Moussa said in a statement.
Moussa added: “No self-serving photo op can erase Trump’s four years of abandoning union workers and standing with his ultra-rich friends.”