Mitt Romney took a swing through suburban Detroit on Thursday for the Michigan GOP’s “ComMITT to the Comeback Rally.”
“I’m not a big supporter of President Obama’s, but I’ve been even more disappointed than I expected,” he told the crowd while appearing with Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land. He promised that if Harry Reid is no longer Senate majority leader and Land is elected, the Keystone XL pipeline “will be voted on and that will get done.”
“If Terri Lynn Land’s opponent were to get elected, instead of building the Keystone policy with an energy policy that encourages using our resources … we’d have cap and trade that causes energy prices to go up,” Romney added.
Romney has a strong GOP fan base in the Detroit area. He was born in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and is the son of George Romney, a former governor of Michigan.
Mitt, the former governor of Massachusetts, ran for president in 2012 against Barack Obama.
Even though he was the state’s “favorite son” in that race, Romney failed to carry Michigan. Obama beat Romney in Michigan 53-46 percent.
Although the Michigan Republican Party is facing tougher competition from Democrats than expected, Darren Littell, the state GOP’s communications director, said the Comeback Rally had nothing to do with the party’s candidates.
“Governor Romney is coming to Michigan to reach out to families about our continued progress with Governor Snyder, Terri Lynn Land as our next senator… all the way down the ticket,” said Littell in a statement to PJ Media.
“Michigan is on the road to recovery, and this event is dedicated to getting folks excited and committed to solidifying our future as America’s Comeback State,” he said.
Still, the top two candidates on the state Republican Party’s ticket are hardly on a downhill slope coasting to victory.
Gov. Rick Snyder, once thought to be a shoo-in for a second four-year term in office, is in a tight race with former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-Mich.). Snyder ran ahead of Schauer for most of the campaign, often leading the Democrat from Battle Creek, Mich., by more than 10 points in the polls.
Snyder beat Schauer in four of six polls in September.
But the polls also showed the race was tightening. Schauer picked up the name recognition he lacked early in the campaign and Michigan voters were giving bad grades to some of Snyder’s initiatives like right-to-work legislation and a move to block a public vote on raising the minimum wage to $10.10.
After consistently refusing the offer, Snyder’s campaign agreed to debate Schauer following the Sept. 22 release of a We Ask America poll that showed the race was tied.
Land, the Republican who wants to replace U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) when he retires at the end of the year, faces a different challenge. Her campaign has not taken off the way the GOP had been hoping.
She was behind her opponent, Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), in the polls throughout the campaign and continued the cold streak in eight polls that were released before Sept. 24.
GOP-leaning Magellan Strategies and We Ask America released polls Sept. 22 that had Peters in the lead by 5 points and 3 points, respectively. The Sept. 19 Rasmussen Reports poll showed Peters had a 2 point lead over Land.
But, Rasmussen moved the Peters-Land race from Leans Democratic to Toss-Up. Heather Swift, the spokeswoman for the Land campaign, pointed to the Rasmussen poll as evidence momentum is now moving in the Republican’s direction.
A Rasmussen poll in late July had Peters leading Land by 6 points.
“From outsourcing a Michigan contract to China to profiting off petcoke to paying his female staffers 67 cents on the dollar by his own math, Michigan voters are learning that Gary Peters is most hypocritical on the issues he’s most outspoken on,” said Swift.
The Real Clear Politics average for the Land-Peters race on Sept. 23 showed Peters was in the lead by 5.4 points and ranks the race as Leans Dem.
Land went on the offensive in mid-September. She accused Peters of everything from hiring a convicted felon who had worked for imprisoned former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to investing $20,000 in a company based in France that was responsible for petroleum coke waste, trying to deflate his claim of being an environmentalist.
Land pushed her Michigan First Plan with a new television ad and a new website, MiFirstPlan.com, that trumpeted her proposals to keep tax money in Michigan to fix roads rather than sending it to Washington, secure the U.S.-Mexican border with more federal agents and a fence, and demand “better trade deals giving Michigan industry a fair playing field to create jobs.”
The new Land ad campaign and the Romney visit come on the heels of a summer that was filled with television advertising supporting Snyder and Land.
The Snyder campaign and the Republican Governors Association spent $4.4 million for TV ads by the end of the Labor Day weekend.
The nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Network released a study Sept. 3 that showed the Snyder campaign spent $1.2 million for television advertising through Labor Day, and the Republican Governors Association spent $3.2 million for ads supporting the governor and criticizing Schauer.
The Michigan Campaign Network reported $5.6 million worth of TV ads ran through Labor Day supporting Schauer and attacking Snyder.
The Democratic Governors Association accounted for $4.6 million of that spending. The Schauer campaign only spent $823,000.
Another $173,000 came from the Michigan Nurses Association for ads supporting Schauer in northern Michigan.
Independent spending has also dominated the Land-Peters race for the Senate.
Peters had been off television since April until he purchased a flight of ads in the Grand Rapids, Mich., market that started running Aug. 26.
Land is omnipresent on television in Michigan. She has been advertising since April, according to the Michigan Campaign Network, with only two short breaks in her TV commercials for the Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays.
The Land campaign outspent their Democratic opponent by a margin of slightly more than 3-1 during the spring and summer. The former Michigan secretary of state spent $3.95 million on TV ads through Labor Day. Peters’ TV spending totaled $1.3 million.
Those totals don’t include money from Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, both of which are affiliated with Charles and David Koch.
The Koch-affiliated organizations spent $5 million on negative ads against Peters early in the year. However, not a televised peep has been heard out of either group since June. Freedom Partners pulled the rug out from under an attack ad campaign in August. Contracts for a statewide buy were canceled.
Another $1.85 million in TV ads targeting Peters ran through Labor Day, courtesy of Ending Spending, Inc. and Ending Spending Action Fund, which are associated with TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.
The Michigan Campaign Network reported independent Land supporters had spent $8 million through Labor Day, two-thirds of the television spending backing her campaign.
Peters’ campaign was helped through Labor Day by money from outside groups like the Senate Majority PAC, the Environment America Action Fund, and A Stronger Financial Michigan.
Those independent organizations spent $5.7 million on ads targeting Land, according to the Michigan Campaign Network, which was 85 percent of the advertising total of the Peters campaign.