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Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Former President Donald Trump skipped the second Republican debate in California and spent Wednesday evening in Michigan instead, blasting the Biden administration's EV mandate during a speech at non-union car parts manufacturer Drake Enterprises.
Trump made his trip to Michigan as the United Auto Workers union strike against Ford Motor Co., Stellantis and General Motors rolled into Day 13.
Trump spent much of his hourlong speech targeting President Joe Biden's electric vehicle mandate, calling it "a government assassination of your jobs and of your industry."
He added that "current strikes and contracts will not matter in the future," as Trump claimed "they will be building those cars in China and other places."
"Biden's job-killing EV mandate has dictated that nearly 70% of all cars sold in the United States must be fully electric less than 10 years from now," Trump said as he also focused on EV's short range and the "panic about where to get a charge."
"Electric cars don't go far enough and they're far, far too expensive," Trump said as he called for "a future that protects American labor, not foreign labor."
"I want to salute these truly great Americans who do not get the credit they deserve. Now they want to go all electric and put you all out of business," Trump claimed.
Trump's visit to Drake Enterprises, a Clinton Township, Mich., company that opposes the Biden administration's shift to electric vehicles, was announced in a post to Facebook on Tuesday.
"In 2019, we rolled out an employee engagement program centered on patriotism and support for America," the company said in its post Wednesday. "This program has sought to encourage our workforce to embody the American Dream, whatever that may be for each employee. With that said, we value this opportunity and are honored to provide a platform to one of America's former leaders."
"I side with the autoworkers of America and with those who want to make America great again and I always will," Trump said, adding "I'm thrilled to be back with the workers, the UAW members and proud patriots of the great state of Michigan."
While Trump spent much of his speech taking shots at the Biden administration, he made a passing reference to the GOP debate also underway in California.
"You know we're competing with the job candidates. They're all running for a job. They'll do anything," Trump said, adding "Does anyone see a V.P. in the group? I don't think so."
Trump also spent much of his speech talking about his term as president, what has changed since he left office and what he would do with a second term.
"Now I put everything on the line to fight for you. I've risked it all to defend working class from the corrupt, political class that has spent decades sucking the life, wealth and blood out of this country," Trump said, as he began to outline his "vision for a revival of economic nationalism and our automobile vehicle lifeblood."
"I want a future that protects American labor, not foreign labor. A future that puts American dreams over foreign profits, and a future that raises American wages and strengthens American industry," Trump said, before warning that "Under crooked Joe Biden, instead of economic nationalism, you have ultra left-wing globalism."
Trump's remarks came less than a day after the Trump campaign criticized Biden for joining Detroit-area picket lines in support of the union, calling it in a statement a "PR stunt" to "distract and gaslight the American people."
"Yesterday, Joe Biden came to Michigan to pose for photos at the picket lines," he said as the crowd booed. "He spoke for a few seconds and had absolutely no idea what he was saying," Trump claimed, adding, "He wants electrical vehicle mandates that will spell the death of the U.S. auto industry."
"He's selling you out to China, he's selling you out to the environmental extremists and the radical left people who have no idea how bad this is going to be," as Trump emphasized how bad used car batteries are for the environment.
"A vote for crooked Joe means the future of the auto industry will be made in China. A vote for President Trump means the future for the automobile will be made in America, where it should be," Trump said to loud cheers, before referencing the numerous indictments he faces.
"I am working for you, not for me. I will always have your back," Trump said, as he added, "I could have the softest, nicest life, instead I have to beat these lunatics up all day long. I'd never heard of the word indictment, now I hear it every three days."
Trump also blasted "Biden's war on energy," as he compared gas prices during his administration to higher gas prices now.
"I think they want that. That way you'll go all electric so you can drive for 15 minutes before you have to get a charge."
And Trump discussed trade deals and ending "the disaster known as NAFTA."
"With the USMCA, 75% of every car under that deal must be made in North America," Trump said, adding "and perhaps my greatest unsung achievement, I kept Chinese cars the hell out of America. I imposed a whopping 27.5% tariff and tax on all Chinese automobiles coming into our country," Trump said, adding "and it remains in place to this day."
As Trump worked to make his case for an endorsement, UAW president Shawn Fain called it "pathetic irony" that Trump's rally, purported to be in support of union workers, was held at a non-union business as he blasted the former president for his anti-union record in an interview with CNN.
Fain said Trump blamed members of the powerful union for the 2008 recession and then, in 2019, failed to stand by union members when the UAW issued a strike against General Motors. He said he sees "no point" in meeting with Trump during his visit.
"I don't think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for. He serves a billionaire class, and that's what's wrong with this country," Fain said.
When asked if that qualified as an endorsement for President Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election, Fain held back -- indicating his comments simply reflected his personal views of Trump. The UAW did endorse Biden in the 2020 presidential election.