In Detroit suburbs, Trump criticizes Biden, Democrats, automakers over electric vehicles

Trump skips second Republican debate to deliver speech in Michigan

Former President Donald Trump criticized President Biden, Democrats and the big three automakers over electric cars in remarks in the Detroit suburbs Wednesday night, as his Republican opponents were getting ready to take the stage in California for the second GOP presidential debate.

The president spoke at auto parts manufacturer and supplier Drake Enterprises, a non-union plant in Clinton Charter Township, Michigan, but spent a significant amount of time addressing an audience not in the room, the United Auto Workers union members striking in 20 states. 

The former president praised the work of auto workers, saying they don't get the credit they deserve, as some audience members waved "Unions for Trump" signs.

"You built this country," Trump told his audience, to cheers. He said he sided with the auto workers of America who want to make America great again, and who make cars "that are going to go far."

And he also complained that automakers were either "stupid or gutless" for investing in developing electric cars, of which he said, "The damn things don't go far enough, and they're too expensive."

Trump blasted President Biden's record on auto manufacturing and workers, one day after Mr. Biden visited the picket line

"Biden's mandate isn't a government regulation, it's a government assassination of your jobs and your industry," Trump said. "The auto industry is being assassinated. And it makes no difference what you get, I don't care what you get in the next two weeks or three weeks or five weeks. They're going to be closing up and they're going to be building those cars in China and other places. It's a hit job on Michigan and on Detroit, and that's not sustainable."

Trump announced his visit to the Detroit area before Mr. Biden did. 

"He only came after I announced that I would be here," Trump said Wednesday night, adding that Mr. Biden only spoke for a "few seconds." 

Trump said to the non-union crowd that "hopefully," UAW and other union leaders would endorse him, while noting they tend to endorse Democrats. Throughout the speech, he addressed UAW workers and their leaders who were not in the room. "Shawn, endorse Trump," he said, directing his comment toward UAW leader Shawn Fain. The UAW has not yet endorsed in the presidential race, but Fain's remarks about Trump in an interview on CNN suggested that he's no fan of the former president. 

"I see no point in meeting with him because I don't think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for," Mr. Fain said. "He serves a billionaire class, and that's what's wrong with this country." 

When Mr. Biden visited the UAW on the picket lines in Michigan, Fain was the first to greet Biden after he arrived.

The Democratic National Committee set up anti-Trump billboards in Detroit ahead of the former president's visit. And on Wednesday, the Biden campaign announced the release of a new ad in Michigan attacking Trump as anti-union. 

"He says he stands with auto workers, but as president, Donald Trump passed tax breaks for his rich friends while auto makers shuttered their plants, and Michigan lost manufacturing jobs," the ad says. "Joe Biden said he'd stand up for workers, and he's delivering." 

The Trump campaign dismissed the president's visit to Michigan as a "PR stunt." 

"This is nothing more than a PR stunt from Crooked Joe Biden to distract and gaslight the American people from his disastrous Bidenomics policies that have led to so much economic misery across the country," the Trump campaign said in a statement. 

Trump has been criticizing Mr. Biden over his support for electric vehicles for days. The president has taken a number of steps to drive the country away from cars powered by fossil fuels and toward EVs, proposing dramatic reductions in tailpipe emissions, approving funding for charging stations, incentivizing the conversion of auto manufacturing facilities to EV or battery plants and more.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Gov. Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Tim Scott are teeing off a second time at the Reagan Library. So far, Trump's decision to duck out of the debates hasn't hurt his poll numbers. He's still trouncing all of his Republican challengers. DeSantis said Trump owes it to voters to show up and debate. 

Trump, in his remarks, referred to the second GOP debate as a "jobs" debate, joking that the candidates were vying to be in his Cabinet. He asked if anyone saw a potential vice president in the group. "I don't think so," he said, answering his own question.

DeSantis said on Fox News Tuesday,"I think he owes it to all the voters to show up, defend his record, and articulate what he would do going forward and what he would might do differently. And he's not willing to do that. I think the voters have a right to hear from all the candidates."


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