Former President Donald Trump is set to skip the second GOP debate in California, choosing instead to address a Detroit audience.
Former President Donald Trump has opted to bypass the upcoming second Republican presidential primary debate in California, choosing to deliver a speech in Detroit to an audience that includes current and former union members. This decision, according to a source familiar with his plans, is aimed at providing counterprogramming to the September 27 debate scheduled at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
Trump’s choice to visit Detroit coincides with the ongoing United Auto Workers (UAW) strike, initiated last week after negotiations between the union and the nation’s three largest automakers failed to avert it. Trump recently expressed his support for the auto workers in an interview with NBC News, stating, “The auto workers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump.”
UAW President Shawn Fain responded to the news of Trump’s upcoming speech, expressing his belief that billionaires and millionaires like Trump cannot truly understand the struggles of the working class. He emphasized the union’s focus on fighting for the rights of workers.
Trump’s visit to Michigan, a crucial swing state, underscores his campaign’s forward-looking strategy towards the general election. His team is actively seeking to attract voters they perceive as potentially vulnerable for President Joe Biden beyond the GOP primary.
The Trump campaign initiated a radio ad campaign in Detroit and Toledo, Ohio, targeting auto workers amid the ongoing strike. While the ad portrays Trump as supportive of auto workers, it does not explicitly mention the strike and will air on sports and rock-themed radio stations in the region.
In response, Biden’s reelection campaign criticized Trump’s visit to Michigan as a “self-serving photo op” and accused him of betraying Michigan workers during his presidency.
Trump previously skipped the first GOP primary debate in Milwaukee and has indicated reluctance to participate in debates against his GOP rivals. The second debate, like the first, requires candidates to meet specific donor and polling thresholds to qualify for the stage.
As it stands, Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott have met the polling requirements to participate in the second debate. Additionally, candidates must gather at least 50,000 unique donors from a minimum of 20 states or territories and pledge their support for the eventual Republican nominee.