Trump to skip GOP debate to target auto workers

STORY: Former U.S. President Donald Trump plans to skip the next Republican presidential debate, instead heading to Detroit next week to speak to a crowd of union workers.

That's according to an aide on Monday, who said Trump will forgo the debate to insert himself into the dispute between striking workers and the United States’ top automakers.

The event will mark the second time Trump has skipped a Republican primary presidential debate in this election cycle.

Despite facing a string of legal woes, the former president still leads his nearest rival by nearly 50 percentage points, according to recent opinion polls.

Trump's speech signals an effort by his team to look beyond the Republican primaries, and onto a likely general election re-match with Biden next November.

And his address to union members points to a Trump campaign to win back some of the working class voters who defected to Biden in his 2020 victory against Trump.

It comes as the United Auto Workers union began a strike last week against the so-called Detroit Three car makers over pay and other benefits.

It’s a labor dispute that could pose a major political threat for Biden.

The current president has vocally supported unions for decades.

But there is anger among some rank-and-file auto workers that he has not done enough to stand up to the manufacturers and their executives amid huge industry profits.

Trump looks set to seize the opportunity to persuade auto workers and other union members that he will be on their side if he becomes president again.

The current strike has geographical significance for next year's general election.

Many of the affected workers are based in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – three key Midwestern battleground states where the presidential contest could be decided.