Donald Trump called Joe Biden a “miserable old vulture” and a “lazy politician” who is trying to “rape and pillage” American jobs in a speech Wednesday night to auto workers attacking electric vehicles.
The former president and frontrunner in the GOP polls largely ignored the second presidential debate and instead launched an attack on Biden and his green policies, which he says are destroying U.S. manufacturing.
As his Republican rivals prepared to take the stage in California, front-runner Trump told auto workers he would protect their jobs and fight environmental “crazies” and said Joe Biden was only interested in raising his family.
“You have watched for decades as lazy politicians like Biden treated American jobs as disposable and American workers as expendable,” he told his supporters in Detroit.
“They sat back and got rich by taking bribes from another country to rape and loot our workplaces,” he added.
Donald Trump addresses his supporters in Detroit
The former president called Biden “the most corrupt president.” But Trump, who faces multiple federal indictments and state charges in New York and Georgia, quickly added: “I shouldn’t have said that. ‘I’ll be indicted again!’
The crowd roared with laughter and cheered him on.
“The corrupt Joe Biden is back,” declared Trump.
In his remarks, he remained focused on Biden and made no mention of his rivals for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
“Under Joe Biden … the workers of America are, to put it nicely, screwed,” Trump said to a cheering crowd. “I want a future that protects American workers, not foreign workers.”
The former president speaks to supporters and union members a day after President Biden’s visit to the battleground state. His crowd waved signs reading “Auto Workers for Trump” and “Union Workers for Trump.”
“Yesterday, Joe Biden came to Michigan to pose for photos on the picket line, but his policies are sending workers to the brink of unemployment,” Trump said.
He wasted no time attacking Biden, repeatedly hitting the president over his environmental agenda and arguing that Biden’s push for electric cars would backfire on American workers.
“You can be loyal to the American workers, or you can be loyal to the environmental nuts,” he said sadly. “But you can’t really be loyal to both – it depends on one or the other.”
He added: “They say the happiest day you buy an electric car is the first 10 minutes you drive it and then you panic because you don’t know where to charge it.”
Trump speaks at Drake Enterprises, a non-union auto parts supplier about a half hour outside Detroit. The company makes equipment for heavy-duty trucks as well as components that go into General Motors and Ford cars.
He is courting the support of the United Auto Workers, which supported Biden in 2020 but has not selected a candidate for the 2024 contest.
“Do me a favor — just get your union people and your leaders to support me,” Trump said as the crowd erupted in applause.
And he vowed to cheers from the crowd: “I will not allow the American auto industry to die under any circumstances. I want it to thrive.”
Donald Trump arrives in rainy Detroit
The crowd consisted of a few hundred invited guests, including some United Auto Workers, some Drake Enterprise employees and other supporters.
Trump toured the factory before delivering remarks.
“We’re going to see the UAW,” Trump said upon landing in Detroit. However, it is unclear whether he supports the striking workers’ demands, which include a wage increase, shorter working days and other concessions.
Trump’s visit to Detroit follows Biden’s visit to the state on Tuesday, where the president joined striking auto workers on the strike line and supported their demand for a 40% pay raise.
Outside the venue, groups of pro-Trump supporters and Trump protesters dueled, shouting at each other with cars honking as they sped by on the highway. A plane flew over us with the message “Trump sold us out.” A drum marched through, cheering the former president.
Trump is ahead by double digits in the polls for the Republican presidential primary campaign.
With a huge lead, his campaign appears to be focused on the general election campaign, which is looking more and more like a rematch between Trump and Biden.
Both he and Joe Biden are working to win over working-class voters in the critical battleground state. Trump won Michigan in the 2016 election, beating Hillary Clinton. But Biden took back victory for the Democrats in 2020 and beat Trump.
However, Trump wants to win it back along with the Democratic strongholds of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These three Rust Belt states were key to his victory in 2016 and to Biden’s victory in 2020.
Both men are working to appeal to working-class voters: Biden is emphasizing his Scranton roots and his longstanding ties to unions and the middle class. Trump promised to revitalize dying industrial cities and scrapped global trade deals.
The former president took a lot of heat for participating in a non-union operation and making his speech by invitation only.
His campaign said Trump was fighting to protect all middle-class jobs, not just those of union members.
“President Trump is fighting to protect the jobs of all working middle-class voters in Michigan, both union and non-union voters.” “Joe Biden, meanwhile, wants all working middle-class voters in Michigan, union and non-union, move to the unemployment line,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller.
Trump’s speech comes as his Republican rivals gather in California for the second Republican primary debate
President Joe Biden walked the strike line with striking auto workers in Michigan
A person holds a sign with Donald Trump’s mugshot in front of his rally site
Trump has long criticized Biden’s push for electric vehicles and the president’s green agenda. Trump argues that this would put more autoworkers out of work.
Miller noted that “every autoworker in Michigan knows that Crooked Joe Biden’s insane electric car mandate will ‘finish’ the U.S. auto industry, and union leadership has been warning about this threat for years.”
But Biden argues that his clean energy agenda, including a shift to electric vehicles, will create new manufacturing jobs. His goal is for half of all new car sales to be electric by 2030.
The United Auto Workers (UAW), which supported Biden in the 2020 election, has not yet endorsed a candidate for the 2024 contest.
UAW workers fear that new electric vehicle battery plants will not be unionized, and that is a key concern for them in this round of negotiations with automakers.
Shawn Fain (left), president of the United Auto Workers, joined President Joe Biden on the strike line in Michigan on Tuesday
Meanwhile, UAW President Shawn Fain took a swipe at Trump, saying he belongs to a “billionaire class.”
Speaking to CNN before Trump’s landing in Detroit, Fain said: “I don’t see the point in meeting him because I don’t think the man cares in the slightest about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for.”‘
“He serves a class of billionaires, and that’s what’s wrong with this country,” Fain noted.
He also said, “I find it pathetic that the former president would hold a rally for union members at a non-union company.”
He’s not the only autoworker frustrated with the former president.
Some are angry at Trump for what they see as unfulfilled promises of auto jobs – promises he made as president that were never kept.
And they point to Trump’s 2017 promise that “all manufacturing jobs will come back” at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio. Instead, the plant was closed in 2019.