Trump plans to support strikers in Detroit on the day of the second primary debate

The former president has increased his lead since the first event and is already more than 40 points ahead of Ron DeSantis

Supporters of Donald Trump during a rally held by the former president in South Dakota on September 8.
Supporters of Donald Trump during a rally held by the former president in South Dakota on September 8.JONATHAN ERNST (REUTERS)
Miguel Jiménez

Donald Trump considers himself above the competition. His lead in the Republican Party primary polls for the 2024 presidential election is so great that he believes it would below him to take part in the primary debates. What’s more, he is counterprogramming. When the first debate was held on August 23, the president’s interview with controversial host Tucker Carlson was broadcast at the same time. And when the second primary debate is held on September 27, Trump plans to travel to Detroit, Michigan, to take part in a rally in support of the United Auto Workers (UAW), who are striking against three major automakers. That’s according to several U.S. media outlets, which reported the news Monday, citing close sources to Trump.

The second Republican primary debate is scheduled for next Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The list of participants has yet to be confirmed, but of the eight presidential hopefuls who participated in the first debate in Milwaukee, at least two — Asa Hutchinson and Doug Burgum — are at serious risk of falling short of the threshold to take part due to their low voter intention figures.

According to FiveThirtyEight’s average of the major polls, Trump has widened his lead since the first debate. He now has 55.5% support among Republican primary voters, more than 40 points above Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has sunk to just 14.2%. Third in the running is Vivek Ramaswamy, a millennial Trump advocate and biotechnology investor. While he was considered the surprise success of the first primary debate, he has failed to capitalize on his performance, and is polling at 7.6%. Nikki Haley has seen the biggest rise in support since the first debate, with her voter intention figure rising to 6.1%. Former vice president Mike Pence is polling at 4.7%; former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is at 3.1%, and Senator Tim Scott is at a paltry 2.6%.

Despite the indictments against him (or in part because of them), support for Trump remains strong and has reached its highest level since the primary race began. He has never had such a wide lead, and is now looking toward a likely showdown against U.S. President Joe Biden at the 2024 presidential elections on November 5.

Biden, who boasts of being a pro-union pr has expressed his support for the UAW workers striking against the three Detroit giants: GM, Ford and Stellantis. Although Trump approved tax cuts for companies and high-income earners, he is aware that to be elected president he needs to win over workers in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin, who are disenchanted with globalization and angry at their loss of purchasing power. That’s why he is planning on appearing in Detroit to support workers.

Trump’s trip to Detroit will include a prime-time speech to current and former members of the UAW, which brings together workers in the automobile sector, and other unions. This speech will be held at the same time as the Republican debate. According to The New York Times, which first reported the news, Trump is scheduled to speak before more than 500 workers. His campaign is planning to fill the room with plumbers, pipe fitters, electricians and autoworkers.

In other words, the campaign will hand-pick the audience; it will not be a spontaneous appearance before striking workers. In fact, Trump has attacked UAW leaders, and it is unclear how he will be received by them. “The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump,” the former president told NBC News, when asked about the strike, last week.

In fact, after learning of Trump’s plans, UAW president Shawn Fein issued a statement hostile to the former president. “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,” he stated. “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.”

In the state of Michigan, Trump won the 2016 election, but lost the 2020 election to Biden. Michigan, along with Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona, is a swing state where the results of the 2024 presidential elections will be decided.

Ammar Moussa, a Biden campaign spokesperson, was also critical of the former president’s plan. “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,” he said Monday. “Instead of standing with workers, Trump cut taxes for the super-wealthy while auto companies shuttered their doors and shipped American jobs overseas.”

The third Republican debate will be held in early November in Miami, Florida. Trump is unlikely to take part in that one either. It remains to be seen what alternative he will come up with to skip the event.

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