Former President Donald Trump will be absent from the second GOP primary debate Wednesday night to instead give a speech to members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union near Detroit, Michigan.
The former president announced his plans last week as the UAW pushes forward with its strike against the “Big Three” automakers in the United States. As of Tuesday, roughly 18,300 union members were on strike across 21 states, interrupting production at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis manufacturing sites.
Trump will be hosted by auto supplier Drake Enterprises in Clinton Township, roughly 25 miles north of Detroit. Doors were set to open at 4 p.m., reported The Detroit News, and the ex-president is expected to deliver remarks at 8 p.m.
This is the second time Trump will skip a GOP primary debate, although recent polls have found the former president nearly 40 points ahead of his closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in the race for the next Republican presidential nomination. The rest of the GOP pack eligible for debate will meet at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi Valley, California, for a two-hour debate at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Trump’s speech also arrives on the heels of President Joe Biden standing alongside striking union members on a picket line in Belleville, Michigan, an unprecedented showing of support for labor unions by a U.S. president. Biden and Trump are leading their respective parties ahead of the next presidential election, and the UAW has yet to announce its endorsement for November 2024. In 2020, the union supported Biden.
UAW President Shawn Fain slammed Trump the night before his speech, telling CNN on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe the former president “has any bit of care about what our workers stand for.” Fain also previously dismissed Trump’s plan to meet with union members, writing in a statement last week, “We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires.”
Watch Trump’s speech to UAW members on C-SPAN 2 or find the livestream of the event here.