CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich.—“It’s one of the best speeches he’s ever given. He just kept listing everything he did for the auto industry. I want that back.”
Those were the words of a 22-year tradesman in the automotive industry who spoke to The Daily Signal after Donald Trump’s packed rally here Wednesday night just outside Detroit.
The former president spoke for over an hour at Drake Enterprises, a nonunionized auto parts supplier based in Clinton Township, a few miles northeast of Motor City.
Trump’s speech celebrated his administration’s actions to protect and bolster the U.S. auto industry—from renegotiating international trade deals to favor American labor to removing Obama administration restrictions on oil production.
The former president’s statements were met with wild applause, especially from members of the striking United Auto Workers union who sat on platforms just offstage.
When Trump threw a punch at President Joe Biden’s “electric vehicle mandate,” the crowd went ecstatic.
One UAW member told The Daily Signal that he fears Biden’s 2035 deadline for electric vehicles would put him out of work.
“Do you think we’re going to keep our jobs if Ford goes electric?” the auto worker asked. “Hell, no!”
Like others interviewed by The Daily Signal, the union member didn’t want his name published.
UAW members at the picket line outside Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Detroit shared similar sentiments with The Daily Signal earlier Wednesday.
Two women who were picketing Ford said they preferred Trump’s policies to Biden’s because of the economic impact on their day-to-day lives. One said that when Trump was in office, “I had more money in my pocket and food on the table.”
In 2020, Biden won Michigan’s 16 votes in the Electoral College with 50.8% of the popular vote to Trump’s 47.8%. Four years earlier, in 2016, Trump had bucked the trend of four prior presidential election victories for Democrats by winning Michigan over Hillary Clinton with 47.3% of the vote.
Another point in Trump’s speech that was particularly favored by rally attendees was his stance against mutilating children in dangerous surgeries to remove or alter their genitals as part of “gender transitions.”
“If you said 10 years ago, 15 years ago, ‘We will stop the [mutilation] 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 … without parents’ consent,” Trump told the crowd.
“The whole thing is insane, the country is insane,” he said.
The former president’s statement was met with angry shouts amid applause that appeared to encourage Trump to keep attacking the trend of “transgender children.”
Outside Drake Enterprises, one woman who would identify herself only as Ashley told The Daily Signal that LGBTQ+ issues were a huge factor in her support for Republicans since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You can’t cut a boy’s penis off and say he’s a girl. Kids don’t need to be reading books about butt plugs at school,” she said. “Some things are just wrong—parents need to keep the pressure up.”
After Trump announced his rally near Detroit, Biden joined a UAW picket line Tuesday in a Detroit suburb, delivering brief remarks praising the picketers and spending a total of 12 minutes at the site.
The Daily Signal noted only about 10 protesters at the Trump rally, one carrying a UAW strike poster from the picket line.
Dozens of men and women inside and outside the Drake Enterprises building wore UAW shirts.
Trump’s alternating celebrations of his own manufacturing and trade policies with gut punches to Biden over corruption allegations, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Russia-Ukraine war appeared to impress many of the tradesmen attending the rally.
“We have enough problems without sending more of my money overseas,” a man wearing a Drake Enterprises T-shirt told The Daily Signal.
A 10-year auto worker for General Motors said he “could get used to that kind of campaign,” referring to Trump’s speech.
He hopes that Trump “sticks to breaking Biden’s knees with that kind of run,” the auto worker added.
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