WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s campaign confirmed Monday he will skip next week’s Republican presidential debate and plans instead to visit the Detroit area to speak with striking auto workers.
Trump had long hinted that he would not attend the Sept. 27 debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., citing his large lead in a series of Republican polls.
The Trump campaign confirmed a schedule showing that he will instead fly to Michigan a week from Wednesday. Details are still being worked out, but Trump is expected to give a speech to members of various unions, including auto workers.
Michigan will be a key battleground in next year’s general election.
Trump also refused to attend the Aug. 23 Republican debate in Milwaukee, though he did not schedule a competing event. He instead taped an interview with commentator Tucker Carlson that aired on social media as his rivals debated.
Trump, seeking to build support with union members, has expressed support for the striking auto workers, saying that President Joe Biden’s insistence on developing electric cars is putting their careers at risk.
“The United Autoworkers are being sold down the ‘drain’ with this all Electric Car SCAM,” Trump said on the Truth Social media site.
Democrats said Trump’s new-found support for unions is strictly political, and that he did nothing for auto workers during his time in the White House.
“Donald Trump is going to Michigan next week to lie to Michigan workers and pretend he didn’t spend his entire failed presidency selling them out at every turn,” said Ammar Moussa, a spokesperson for Biden’s re-election campaign.
United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain, who has warned that another Trump presidency would be a “disaster,” said that the strike has nothing to do with the 2024 presidential election.
“This battle is not about the President, it’s not about the former president, or any other person prior to that,” he said on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’ “This battle is about the workers standing up for economic and social justice and getting their fair share.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump to skip next GOP debate, will meet with auto workers