DETROIT—Former President Donald Trump addressed blue-collar workers, including dozens of current and former members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union in Detroit on Sept. 27.
The former president spoke at Drake Enterprises in Clinton Township, a northern suburb of Detroit. His appearance in Michigan comes amid a strike by the UAW that has reached two weeks. Drake Enterprises is unaffiliated with the UAW.
Speaking on policy, President Trump contrasted himself with President Joe Biden, arguing that his competitor is a proponent of "ultra-left-wing globalism" and that his policies would end in U.S. auto jobs being shipped to China, Mexico, and other foreign nations.
"I want a future that protects American labor, not foreign labor," President Trump said near the top of his remarks.
Citing the ongoing strikes, he argued that President Biden's push to mandate electric vehicles (EV) would lead to U.S. automakers, and American jobs, being pushed out of the market.
Specifically, he referenced a proposed standard by the Environmental Protection Agency that would require the majority of new cars on the market to be electric within 10 years—even as the United States currently doesn't have the infrastructure to support such a system.
President Trump said Americans should instead be given a choice and that U.S. automakers should be allowed to stick with the business they know.
"You're all on picket lines and everything, but it doesn't make a damn bit of difference what you get because in two years, you're all going to be out of business," he said. "Crooked Joe is siding with the left-wing crazies who will destroy automobile manufacturing, and will destroy our country itself."
President Trump pointed to his record on auto manufacturing while in office, saying that he had "saved" it.
Biden, Trump Compete for MichiganMichigan is one of several states that helped propel President Trump to the White House in 2016; it will be a crucial state for President Biden's reelection hopes in 2024.
In 2016, then-candidate Trump won the state along with nearby Wisconsin, as part of his victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
President Biden was declared the winner of both of those states in 2020 amid a litany of allegations of widespread election fraud in the states.
Now, both presidents are vying for support in Michigan, considered a crucial swing state, in next year's election.
President Trump's visit to Detroit comes a day after President Biden, who has described himself as "the most pro-union president in American history," made headlines by joining UAW strikers on a picket line.
President Biden, in a comment indicative of his approach, told strikers, "You deserve a significant raise."
President Trump derided his rival's claim of support for unions as nonsense, citing President Biden's past support of foreign trade deals that have long been a key target for President Trump.
"Joe Biden claims to be 'the most pro-union president in history,'" he said. "Nonsense. His entire career has been an act of economic treason and union destruction.
"He's destroyed unions, shipping millions of American jobs overseas, while personally taking money from foreign nations hand over fist," he added, referencing allegations being explored by a House impeachment inquiry that the Biden family received millions from foreign sources, including from China.
President Trump also expressed support for the UAW strikers but said it would be all be for naught if President Biden is allowed to continue with his "globalist" policies.
"To the striking workers, I support you in your goal for fair wages and greater stability, and I truly hope you get a fair deal for yourselves and your families," he said. "But if your union leaders will not demand that crooked Joe repeal his electric vehicle mandate immediately, then it doesn't matter what hourly wages you get. It just doesn't make a damn bit of difference, because in two, three years, you will not have one job in this state.
"And you've seen it happen before, you've seen what happened where massive percentages of your industry went to other countries like Mexico, like China, like South Korea, like Japan.
"In other words, your current negotiations don't mean as much as you think. I mean, I watch you out there with the pickets, but I don't think you're picketing for the right thing."
Nikola Gjonaj, a UAW member and striker at the Stellantis Mopar facility, believes that, although he's not a fan of the former president, President Trump is correct about EVs.
“Trump was right about one thing. All the cars might be made in China. And we don't want the jobs to leave here,” Mr. Gjonaj told Joshua Philipp, host of The Epoch Times’ "Crossroads" program.
UAW President Declines to Meet With TrumpIt seems that UAW leadership, for its part, is unlikely to cast its lot with President Trump.
In a Sept. 27 interview with CNN, UAW President Shawn Fain was asked if he would consider meeting with President Trump during his visit to Detroit.
Mr. Fain replied that he saw "no point" in doing so.
"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."
On Sept. 26, Mr. Fain stood alongside President Biden as he addressed workers picketing outside a General Motors Co. facility in Belleville, Michigan.
President Trump has argued that President Biden's push to expand the EV market at the expense of gasoline-powered vehicles will ultimately harm American autoworkers.
President Trump said that's why the UAW should endorse him—a call that received cheers from the audience.
“It was a wonderful speech—well thought out and spoken from the heart,” Isaiah Goddard, a UAW member who works at Ford Motor Co.'s Rawsonville Components Plant in Michigan, told The Epoch Times after President Trump's remarks.
A Trump supporter and one of the auto union members who attended the former president’s rally in Michigan, Mr. Goddard also praised the former president for repealing the North American Free Trade Agreement.
However, Mr. Goddard, a third-generation autoworker, said he faced a lot of “backlash” from relatives and co-workers for attending the rally. Even so, he says he believes that President Trump is the best candidate to keep the auto industry booming and union employment secure.
“It wouldn't necessarily be such a bad thing if our UAW president met with Donald Trump, talked to him, and tried to get an idea and endorse him,” Mr. Goddard said. “I would encourage him to at least talk to President Trump and try to work things out.”
“Trump made promises. He delivered,” Mark Morton, chairman of the Republican Party in Michigan's Macomb County, told The Epoch Times.
He said that President Trump used tariffs as a strategy to protect the interests of American businesses and workers, countering claims that he doesn't care about blue-collar workers.