Trump Tells Autoworkers ‘I Don’t Care What You Get’ in Bizarre Nonunion Rally

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Rather than debate the Republican candidates polling in the single digits on Wednesday night, Donald Trump held a rally at the Drake Enterprises truck-parts manufacturing plant outside Detroit. According to the former president, he was there to support United Auto Workers members striking for increased wages and benefits — even though he spoke at the management’s request at a nonunion shop. Over an hour or so, Trump talked trash about Joe Biden and the UAW’s leadership while making very few mentions of the purported competition in the GOP primary. Below are some of the most striking moments from his Wednesday night speech.

Trump says that none of the other Republican candidates will be his vice-presidential nominee

Aside from his refusal to debate, Trump has already made it clear in his messaging that he has pivoted from primary mode to running in a general election. This was quite clear when he hardly mentioned the GOP field — except to say that they were all “running for a job” in his administration. “They’ll do anything,” he said. “Secretary of something. They even say VP, I don’t know. Has anybody seen any VP in the group? I don’t think so.”

Trump to striking UAW members: “I don’t care what you get”

Throughout the rally, Trump tried to frame himself as the pro-union candidate for killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership that had the potential to take auto-manufacturing jobs abroad. But the candidate who has railed against union protections for years wasn’t exactly supportive of the UAW’s demands to increase wages and improve benefits. Prior to his speech, he did not respond to a reporter’s questions about whether or not he backed the 40 percent raise the UAW is demanding.

At one point during a long diatribe against electric vehicles, he said, “I don’t care what you get in the next two weeks, or three weeks, or five weeks,” referring to the length of the strike. (According to Trump, it wouldn’t matter due to the Biden administration’s support of electric vehicles and the potential for the growing industry to undercut union jobs.) “I don’t think you’re picketing for the right thing,” he added.

“They always endorse a Democrat, it’s almost like an automatic reflex”

After saying that he did not care about the union’s demands, Trump then lobbied its president, Shawn Fain, to endorse him in the 2024 election. He seemed frustrated that Democrats always win the UAW’s endorsement over the party that undercuts unions as a policy. “It’s almost like an automatic reflex,” he said.

Trump’s speech at the nonunion plant is probably not going to help his chances here. “I find the pathetic irony that the former president is going to hold a rally for union members at a nonunion business,” Fain said of Trump before the rally. “His track record speaks for itself. In 2008 during the Great Recession, he blamed UAW members. He blamed our contracts for everything that was wrong with these companies. That’s a complete lie.”

As for the Autoworkers for Trump signs in the audience, reporters at the rally found that Trump campaign staffers were passing them out to non-union workers.

Trump talks trash about clean energy at large

The former president talked a lot about how electric vehicles are often built abroad, even as the Biden administration implements policies to block the importation of EV chargers and batteries from China. In a more Trumpian tone, he talked about the “panic” that settles in after Americans buy an electric car and worry over their (substantial) driving range. Returning to one of his classic complaints, he also went off about wind turbines, claiming that they “don’t work.” (Spoiler: They work.) He also claimed that electric motors on boats can’t work because they would electrocute boaters, which would be news to the outboard-motor industry.

Trump talks a lot of trash about Joe Biden

Trump claimed that Joe Biden had only visited the UAW picket line in Michigan the day before because Trump was speaking in Michigan. Biden, who sounded fairly energetic at the strike, “didn’t know where he was,” according to Trump. “I don’t think he actually knows what he’s doing,” Trump said of Biden’s demeanor in general. “He doesn’t know,” Trump said. “Let’s not blame him.”

Later, Trump accused Biden of corruption, claiming that if his home was raided it “would have made Menendez look like a baby.” Trump said that he wasn’t sure if Biden is “going to make it to the starting gate” of the 2024 election. In an unusual line of attack, he said that “crooked Joe Biden is back like a wretched old vulture trying to finish off his prey.”

“I could have had the nicest, softest life”

The former president did not get into specifics about the many indictments he is facing for his alleged acts of conspiring to overturn the election, violating the Espionage Act, and falsifying business records. But he did acknowledge that they were weighing on him. “I could’ve had the nicest, softest life,” Trump said. “Instead, I have to beat these lunatics up all day long. Every day. Lunatics! I have never heard of the word indictment, now I get indicted every three days.”

Trump accidentally brags about the massive financial crash during his administration

The former president cited his record in office keeping prices down as a way to prove he was the right candidate for working-class voters in 2024. At one point, he boasted that the last time gas prices were under $2 was under his watch. Unfortunately, he forgot that this occurred in April 2020 — when the economy tanked in the second month of the pandemic and over 20 million Americans lost their jobs.

Trump invents a new word

In his nod to the culture-war front against transgender rights, Trump went on about “child mutilization.” Most likely, he was referring to rare gender-reassignment surgeries for teenagers. Almost certainly, he meant “mutilation.”

Trump Tells Autoworkers ‘I Don’t Care What You Get’