Former President Donald Trump will not participate in the second Republican presidential primary debate in California next week and will travel to Detroit to deliver a speech to an audience that will include current and former union members, according to a source close to his projects.
His prime-time remarks will serve as counterprogramming to the Sept. 27 debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
The news comes as the United Auto Workers strike entered its fourth day.
“Autoworkers are being betrayed by their leaders, and their leaders should support Trump,” the former president said. told NBC News in an interview last week.
President Joe Biden’s campaign, criticizing what it considers a “self-serving photo op,” said Monday night that Trump was visiting the state to “pretend he didn’t spend his entire failed presidency for sale (Michigan workers) at every moment. »
“Instead of supporting workers, Trump cut taxes for the richest while automakers closed their doors and shipped American jobs overseas,” said spokesman Ammar Moussa, who also noted that Trump had lost Michigan to Biden in 2020.
Details of Trump’s trip to Detroit were first reported by The New York Times.
Trump, who has maintained a wide lead in national primary polls and in early states, also skipped the first GOP primary debate in Milwaukee last month. The third debate is scheduled to take place in Miami in November. The former president told former Fox News host Megyn Kelly last week that while he would participate in possible general election debates with Biden, he is unlikely to debate with his rivals of the GOP.
“I don’t see it,” Trump said. “Why should I do it?”
As in the first debate, Republican candidates must meet certain donor and polling thresholds to participate in the Simi Valley debate.
They will need at least 3% in two national polls or in one national poll and two polls in separate early-voting states – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada. Qualifying polls must be conducted beginning Aug. 1 and meet several requirements, including having surveyed at least 800 “likely registered Republican voters” and not being conducted by a company affiliated with a candidate.
Candidates must also have a minimum of 50,000 unique donors, including at least 200 from 20 states or territories. Debate participants will also be required to sign a pledge pledging to support the eventual Republican candidate.
This story has been updated with additional details.