Former President Donald Trump intends to give a prime-time speech to union members during next week’s Republican primary debate in Detroit, three sources familiar with the planning confirmed to NBC News on Monday.
The Sept. 27 debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California will be the second debate that Trump has rejected in favor of a rival event this election cycle.
The New York Times first reported Trump’s plan.
The counterprogramming comes amid an ongoing labor dispute between auto workers and automakers that has drawn national attention. Thousands of United Auto Workers are on strike after the three Detroit automakers failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the union last week.
Trump said in an interview with NBC News’ Kristen Welker that aired over the weekend that the United Auto Workers’ leadership had failed its members, but stopped short of criticizing its members.
“The auto workers are being sold out by their leadership, and their leadership should support Trump,” he said.
UAW President Shawn Fain has been critical of Trump, calling the prospect of a second Trump presidency “a disaster” even as he withheld his support for President Joe Biden.
When asked to respond to Fain, Trump said, “I think he’s not representing his union well because he won’t have a union in three years.”
Trump said in the standoff that he was “on the side of making our country great” and called for a “car vote.” Trump warned that U.S. jobs would move to China under Biden’s push for electric vehicles.
Trump’s plan to speak directly to unions and other workers in Michigan suggests he is already eyeing a general election rematch against Biden, who carried Michigan in 2020. Trump won the state in 2016 against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
A spokesman for the Biden-Harris campaign responded Monday night, saying Trump “will be traveling to Michigan next week to lie to Michigan workers and pretend he hasn’t betrayed them at every turn throughout his failed presidency.” “
“Instead of siding with workers, Trump cut taxes for the super-rich while auto companies closed their doors and moved American jobs overseas,” Ammar Moussa said in a statement. “No self-serving photo op can erase Trump’s four years of abandoning union members and siding with his ultra-rich friends.”
Trump decided in August to skip the first two Republican debates, a source familiar with Trump’s thinking previously told NBC News.
During the first debate, Tucker Carlson aired a recorded interview with Trump on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.