Concern is growing among Joe Biden’s allies that Donald Trump is outmaneuvering them in the ongoing auto workers’ strike. Trump’s decision to address Detroit in a speech next week is seen by some Democrats as a cynical ploy to gain political advantage from the strike. There are concerns that Trump’s campaign is more demanding than in previous cycles and that Biden’s effort will need to be stepped up.
Democrats close to the White House believe they should not underestimate Trump and that this will be a close election. They recognize that the American working class is still struggling with rising gas prices, food prices, housing costs and electric bills. They feel like their wages aren’t rising fast enough, while the rich are benefiting too much.
Joe Biden’s team has considered sending a top official to the picket lines to side with United Auto Workers (UAW) workers. However, the White House has backtracked on some behind-the-scenes commitments, scrapping a plan to send two Biden advisers to Detroit this week to help both sides after complaints from union representatives. The White House has sought to support workers’ demands while avoiding a prolonged strike that could hurt the economy.
Trump’s visit to Michigan has surprised some Democrats who feel the former president has outdone them. Biden campaign officials argue that this gives them a chance to remind voters, particularly union members, of Trump’s reneging on promises to workers and attacks on UAW leaders. They argue that Biden has the advantage because he has doubled his lead among union households nationwide compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Michigan Democrats have criticized Trump’s attempt to exploit workers and his failure to fight for wage increases, pensions, health care and job security. UAW President Shawn Fain has said Trump has no chance of winning the union’s support. However, in 2016, Trump managed to win over many union members despite receiving no official support.
Sources indicate that there has been tension between the UAW and the White House in recent days. UAW officials were frustrated by White House senior adviser Gene Sperling and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su’s plans to travel to Detroit and questioned their roles in the strike negotiations. The timing of his planned visit raised concerns among both UAW officials and companies.