At Detroit auto show, Biden praises American workers, progress on climate crisis 

By: - September 14, 2022 6:50 pm

President Joe Biden drove an all-electric Cadillac SUV vehicle at the Detroit International Auto Show on Wednesday. | Ken Coleman

President Joe Biden touted the emerging electric vehicle market during a nearly three-hour visit to the North American International Auto Show on Wednesday at Huntington Place. 

Biden’s visit included a tour of the showroom floor and 30-minute rally that was packed with area union workers and elected officials.

“We’re choosing to build a better America, an America that is confronting the climate crisis, with America’s workers leading the way,” said Biden.

During the tour, Biden visited each of the Detroit Three exhibits and drove an all-electric Cadillac SUV vehicle. It was the first in-person Detroit show since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was greeted by Detroit Three officials Mary Barra, General Motors CEO; Bill Ford, Ford Motor Co. executive chairman; Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO; and United Auto Workers President Ray Curry. 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, now a Michigan resident, also attended. So did Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist as well as several members of the Michigan congressional delegation: U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Haley Stevens (D-Livonia) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph). State Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit), the Democratic nominee for 13th Congressional District, also attended.

“Isn’t it wonderful to have a President of the United States who is a car guy?” said Stabenow during the rally. Michigan’s senior U.S. senator also was one of the officials who accompanied Biden on Air Force One on Wednesday to the Detroit Metro Airport.

During the visit, Biden talked about key administration areas of focus, including the infrastructure package, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act. He said that each has positioned the nation “to lead the electric vehicle future — creating more jobs and making more in America all while fighting climate change.” 

Specifically, Biden said approval of the first $900 million in infrastructure funding to create EV chargers across 53,000 miles of the national highway system and across 35 states. The Infrastructure Law provides $7.5 billion to build a national network of 500,000 EV chargers.

“America is not losing a step under this administration’s leadership and with your hard work America is ready to lead the way for the rest of the 21st century,” said Buttigieg during the rally to auto workers who attended.

Earlier this week, Buttigieg was the subject of a homophobic attack from Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, which was widely condemned by Democrats and a couple GOP lawmakers.

“We’re so blessed this weak little girl moved to Michigan!” Maddock tweeted. “Looks like he’s bringing all his California Dreaming here with him.”

Buttigieg moved to Traverse City this year with his husband, Michigan native Chasten Buttigieg, and their children.

On Wednesday, Buttigieg responded to Maddock’s slur.

“She wants to talk about little girls. Chasten and I are raising a little girl, and a little boy, and we are raising them to have better values,” he said, calling the rest “politics.”

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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