Donald Trump was back in Michigan on Wednesday night, speaking to a crowd connected with the automotive industry as the United Auto Workers union continued its strike of the Big Three automakers.
Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination again and a rematch with Joe Biden in 2024, made a pitch to a traditionally Democrat-leaning audience that included UAW members—which the former president acknowledged.
Trump spoke at Drake Enterprises, a nonunionized auto parts supplier based—interestingly enough—in Clinton Township, just nottheast of Detroit. In one of the surprises of the 2016 presidential election, Trump narrowly carried Michigan against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s speech began almost an hour before the second Republican presidential primary debate aired on Fox Business Network, but it overlapped that debate. (He also skipped the first debate Aug. 23 in favor of an interview with commentator Tucker Carlson.)
Here are key highlights from Trump’s address, which ran more than one hour.
1. ‘Ultimate Strike’
In his speech, Trump called for striking auto workers to “join the ultimate strike.”
“If you want to save your livelihood and your way of life, then you need to send a message and join the ultimate strike against the globalist class,” Trump said.
“Instead of economic nationalism, we have ultra left-wing globalism,” he said. “They hate our country, and the workers of America are getting—to put it very nicely—screwed.”
Trump told the crowd that he supports the UAW strike, but that the bigger problem was Biden’s push for electric vehicles.
“To the striking workers, I support you and your goal of fair wages and greater stability and I truly hope you get a fair deal for yourselves and your families. But if your union leaders will not demand that Crooked Joe repeal his electric vehicle mandate immediately, then it doesn’t matter what hourly wage you get,” Trump said. “Because in two to three years, you will not have one job in this state.”
Trump asserted that if he returns to the White House, that federal regulation and others will be gone.
“On Day One, I will terminate Joe Biden’s electric vehicle mandate and I will cancel every job-killing regulation that is crushing American auto workers,” Trump said. “I will unleash a thing called American energy, stop the ban on the internal combustion engine, and we will drill, baby, drill. And we will make zero environmental difference.”
Trump referred to Biden’s visit the previous day to Detroit, where the president spoke on a picket line to auto workers.
“Yesterday, Joe Biden came to Michigan to pose for photos at the picket line, but it’s his policies that send Michigan auto workers to the unemployment line,” Trump said. “He only came after I announced I’d be here. He announced [it] quite a bit later.”
Trump then mocked Biden, addressing Americans’ concerns about the president’s mental sharpness.
“He spoke for a few seconds, and he had absolutely no idea what he was saying,” Trump said. “He didn’t know where he was: ‘Where am I?’”
Biden stayed at the UAW event for 12 minutes but spoke for only 87 seconds, according to news reports.
Trump stressed again the danger of Biden’s electric vehicle policy.
“He wants electric vehicle mandates that will spell the death of the U.S. auto industry,” Trump said, adding: “Hundreds of thousands of American jobs, your jobs, will be gone forever because Crooked Joe Biden is selling you out.”
“But I don’t think it’s him,” Trump said. “I don’t think he knows what he is doing. Let’s not blame him. But he’s surrounded by radical-left Marxists, and crazy people, fascist, bad people.”
2. Gas Engines and Sex Changes
Trump also asserted his opposition to allowing so-called sex-reassignment surgery for minors who say they are transgender.
“Under a Trump administration, gasoline engines will be allowed, but sex changes for children will be banned. Is that OK?” Trump said, to roars of approval.
Trump went on talk about “mutilization” of children, apparently meaning mutilation in so-called gender-affirming surgery that removes and adds body parts.
“Can you believe it?” the former president said. “Mutilization. If you said 10 years ago, 15 years ago, we will stop the mutilization of children, someone would say, ‘What the hell is he talking about?’ Today, you have to say it because that’s what they are doing. Mutilization of children without parents’ consent. The whole thing is insane, the country is insane.”
3. Biden’s Hands Dirty
Trump also referenced House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into Biden’s actions, centered on what investigators say is about $20 million from foreign sources, including China and Ukraine, to the Biden family and its business interests.
Trump referred to American auto workers who “came home with grease on their hands.”
“The only time Joe Biden has gotten his hands dirty is when he’s taking cash from foreign countries, which is quite often, actually,” he said.
Trump referred to the indictment this week of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on bribery charges.
“Can you imagine an unannounced raid on his many homes?” Trump said of Biden. “He would’ve made Sen. Menendez look like a baby.”
First son Hunter Biden and other Biden family members benefited from overseas business deals that took in millions while the elder Biden was vice president under President Barack Obama from 2009 through 2016, investigators have said.
“Crooked Joe Biden cares only about enriching his own family,” Trump said. “I care about enriching your family.”
The crowd cheered.
4. Ukraine Dollars and Auto Industry
If other countries want to continue getting U.S. military assistance, Trump said, those countries will be expected to buy American cars.
“I will then go to every foreign country where we are paying billions and billions of dollars for their military defense, as I was doing before, and tell them that if they do not massively increase their purchases of Fords, Chevys, GMs, and Jeeps, our troops are packing up and we are coming home,” Trump said. “You’ve got to buy our products.”
Trump continued: “If we can afford to send hundreds of billions of dollars to Ukraine, then we can afford to have an auto industry that pays our workers a good living wage and keeps our workers working.”
5. Labor or Environmentalists
Trump said radical environmentalists’ agenda conflicts with that of organized labor.
“You can be loyal to American labor or you can be loyal to the environmental lunatics, but you can’t really be loyal to both,” the former president said. “It’s one or the other. And they understand that. The Democrat Party has no idea what they are doing right now. They have no idea what to do.”
“I don’t get why Ford [and] GM aren’t fighting to make cars that are going to sell, to make cars that are going to be able to go long distances. They immediately give up. I see it with the oil companies, too.”
“Why is it that these big, powerful car companies with guys making $35 million a year immediately quit?” Trump asked. “They say, ‘You want electric vehicles, we’ll give it to you,’ when the damned things don’t go far enough and they are too expensive.”
Under the Biden administration, Trump said, the future of the auto industry would be “made in China.”
But, the former president said, he wants the future of the auto industry to be “made in America” and built by “high-wage American labor.”
The crowd chanted, “USA, USA.”
6. ‘Because They Want to Cheat’
Trump argued again for requiring voter ID at the polls to combat voter fraud and accused Democrats of wanting to cheat in elections.
“We want to have good voting,” Trump said. “We want to have same-day voting with all paper ballots.”
He added: “We want to have a thing called voter ID. Why do the Democrats not want voter ID? Because they want to cheat. We want to have voter ID.”
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