Many Republican presidential primary candidates are echoing former President Donald Trump’s nationalist-populist approach, defending American auto workers as they strike for better pay to keep up with inflation and commitments that they will not lose their jobs to President Joe Biden’s green energy agenda.
As Breitbart News Economics Editor John Carney details, nearly 13,000 UAW members are striking against General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis as contract negotiations have yet to deliver assurances that Biden’s rapid push for Electric Vehicles (EVs) will not jeopardize their wages and jobs.
Sources confirmed to Breitbart News on Monday that Trump will skip the second GOP presidential primary debate and instead join auto workers striking in Detroit, Michigan.
The visit, likely to be historic as most Republicans continue to largely avoid aligning themselves with union workers, comes after Trump warned auto workers that they are “being sold down the river” in an effort to eliminate gas-powered vehicles and replace them with EVs.
“The auto workers will not have any jobs … because all of these cars are going to be made in China. The electric cars, automatically, are going to be made in China,” Trump said.
Such a rapid push from the Biden administration would indeed be a major victory for China, which controls critical components of the EV supply chain, including nearly 70 percent of the world’s lithium, 95 percent of manganese, 73 percent of cobalt, 70 percent of graphite, and 63 percent of nickel — all needed to make EV batteries.
Now, fellow Republican presidential candidates are echoing Trump.
“I guarantee you that one of the things that’s driving that strike is that Bidenomics and their green energy, electric vehicle agenda is good for Beijing and bad for Detroit, and American autoworkers know it,” Pence told CNBC:
“This drive toward electric vehicles, driving people away from gasoline-powered vehicles, any auto worker that’s paying attention would know that’s not in their long-term interest,” he said. [Emphasis added]
Likewise, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum defended auto workers this week during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, noting that workers rightfully are concerned about their jobs being offshored to China and their wages crushed by EV production, which takes far less manpower. Burgum said:
This is not just about wages. This is about a battle about the future of American transportation and the union workers are going ‘Wow, if we’re going to switch to all EVs, we’re going to have less jobs … we’re going to be dependent on China for our transportation needs.’
“They understand what’s happening,” he continued. “And the federal government to play a role in an industry debate where they’re basically saying we’re going to subsidize this kind of vehicle — a vehicle with an EV engine, we’re gonna subsidize it, and if it’s got an internal combustion machine, we’re not subsidizing it — to be that specific, America should be outraged.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told local network KCCI that Biden’s EV push will ultimately eliminate American auto jobs.
“Well first of all, with respect to the auto industry and the auto workers, one of the things that’s a big threat to that is Biden’s push to impose electric vehicle mandates,” DeSantis said:
The reality is, that’s not where the market is. We want to preserve the ability of automakers to actually produce the type of vehicles that people want to buy. That will mean more auto worker jobs because the industry will do better, the companies will do better. So it’s an example of government trying to force something on the private sector that’s not going to be good for the companies and it is going to end up with fewer jobs in the industry. So we will come and we’re going to save the day on that. [Emphasis added]
Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy similarly defended auto workers on strike, suggesting that their wages have not been able to keep up with record inflation and that much of their anger ought to be aimed at the Biden administration.
“I empathize with workers who have seen wages not go up nearly at the same rate as prices have gone up,” Ramaswamy told reporters at an event this week.
“The people they should be really protesting against is the current administration that has given us the economic policies of inflation without wage growth to go along with it,” he continued. “So I understand the frustration, but I think union bosses may be directing that ire in the wrong direction when it belongs at the feet of our current government.”
The Republican presidential nominee will need union households on their side in the 2024 election against Biden.
In 2016, union workers helped propel Trump and his nationalist-populist agenda to the White House — scoring the most support among union households for any Republican presidential candidate since former President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
In 2020, Biden helped widen that gap by taking 57 percent of union workers compared to Trump’s 40 percent — largely by pitching economic populism to voters, much of which was seemingly borrowed from Trump in 2016.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter here.