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Biden, Trump in dueling US auto strike trips

Published : 26 Sep 2023 10:01 PM | Updated : 27 Sep 2023 02:27 PM

US President Joe Biden will join thepicket line with striking auto workers on a historic trip to Michigan Tuesday, putting him on a collision course with likely 2024 election rival Donald Trump who visits a day later.

Democrat Biden, 80, is believed to be the first sitting president to walk the picket and says he wants to show solidarity with workers who have walked out on Detroit's "Big Three" carmakers.

Republican Trump had previously announced a visit to Michigan on Wednesday, and their dueling trips have ensured that a strike that already threatened major economic disruption will now become a political battleground.

For Biden, battling increasingly dismal poll ratings and struggling to get his message on the economy across to voters, the trip is a golden opportunity to woo blue-collar workers.

"This is going to be a historic trip," White house Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a briefing on Monday, adding that it would "underscore that the president is the most the most pro-union president in history."

She insisted Biden's visit to the picket line in Wayne County, Michigan, was "absolutely not" influenced by Trump's planned trip to the state the following day.

- 'Cheap photo op' -

Trump, who looks set for a rematch with Biden in November next year, has accused Biden of copying him by going to the frontline of the auto workers strike.

Biden "saw that I was going to Michigan this week (Wednesday!), so the Fascists in the White House just announced he would go there tomorrow," Trump said in a post on social media.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller said Biden's visit was "nothing more than a cheap photo op."President Biden has said he is going to "stand in solidarity" with the United

Auto Workers (UAW) union as they get a "fair share" of profits from the car

firms -- Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

But his visit is also fraught with political risk, as he must tread a fine

line between backing the workers and trying to end a strike that is costing

the economy billions of dollars.

At the same time, it would have been awkward for Biden to turn down the UAW's

invitation on Friday for him to come.

The White House's Jean-Pierre deflected a barrage of questions about whether

Biden was taking sides in the dispute, saying the president wanted a "win-

win" agreement.

"What we're saying is we're not going to get into this when it comes to

negotiation," she added.

- Union support -

Support for trade unions has been a hallmark of Biden's presidency, and the

UAW's endorsement in 2020 helped him flip the state from Trump in the last


However, the Democrat is also the driving force behind government-funded

efforts to spark a historic shift in the automobile industry to more

environmentally friendly electric vehicles.

Trump has used Biden's green plans to batter his rival with accusations of

selling out American jobs to China.

"When he slowly walks to pretend he is a 'picket,' remember he wants to take

your jobs away and give them to China," Trump wrote on his social media site

Truth Social, in a message that was largely in capitals.

Trump's hopes of winning a second term in November 2024 largely rest on the

same blue collar votes that he won in 2016 in battleground states like

Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

He will speak on Wednesday in front of a plant that makes car parts in

Clinton Township, Michigan, his campaign said, some 40 miles (65 kilometers)

on the other side of Detroit from where Biden is speaking.

Democrats however have called into question the multi-millionaire property

tycoon's own commitment to the unions.

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