The ex-vice president Mike Pence attempted to downplay Scott’s earlier remark by stating, “I do disagree with something Tim Scott just said. Joe Biden doesn’t belong on a picket line. He belongs on the unemployment line.”
The reaction that ensued, marked by slight laughter and applause, can be characterized as somewhat lukewarm.
Scott garnered the initial spontaneous applause of the evening when he expressed, “Joe Biden shouldn’t be present at a protest line; instead, he should be at the southern border.”
During his visit to Michigan, US President Joe Biden expressed his support for striking car workers on their picket line, marking the first time a sitting US president had done so.
Biden emphasized that the workers deserved the salary increases and other concessions they were demanding.
His visit coincided with the scheduled arrival of his potential rival, Donald Trump, although the workers interviewed by the BBC expressed concerns that both politicians might use the strike for political purposes and preferred they stay away.
In brief comments to the striking workers on Tuesday, the Democratic president stated that they should receive the substantial pay raises they required and additional benefits. He argued that these workers should be enjoying the same level of success as the companies they worked for.
While US lawmakers and presidential candidates frequently show support for American workers by attending strikes, it was unprecedented for a sitting president to do so.
Some of the workers hoped that the attention from Biden and Trump would aid their cause, but others dismissed the visits as political maneuvers designed to secure votes, with little practical impact on the ongoing negotiations.
Longtime Ford employee Billy Rowe told the BBC, “We would have preferred that neither of them showed up. We don’t want to introduce politics into this situation, as it tends to create division and arguments.”
In September, the UAW had initiated a strike targeting Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, aiming to secure better pay and working conditions.
The White House, which had played a significant role in resolving a labor dispute with rail workers in 2022, clarified that it was not directly involved in the current negotiations, according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
The administration had refrained from expressing a stance on the UAW’s current proposal, deferring to the UAW and the major auto companies.
The purpose of Biden’s visit to Michigan was to show solidarity and support for the car workers, Jean-Pierre added. The president believed that the UAW members deserved a fair share of the record profits they had helped generate.
The White House had announced Biden’s visit to the UAW workers shortly after Trump declared he would skip the Republican presidential debate scheduled for September 27 in California in favor of visiting Detroit, a hub of US vehicle manufacturing.
On his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump claimed to have prompted Biden’s visit, stating, “Crooked Joe Biden had no intention of visiting the United Autoworkers until I announced my plan to be with them and provide assistance in Michigan.”
Biden received an invitation to visit the UAW members from the union’s president, Shawn Fain, who had occasionally criticized Trump.
In his Truth Social post, Trump, who had not received an invitation from the UAW, asserted that car workers would face difficulties if they did not endorse him and he did not win the election.