President Obama fired up the wrong party Nov. 1 in Detroit. His address at a campaign rally for Democrat Gary Peters, running for Senate, and Mark Schauer, running for governor, was meant to be fighting words for Michigan Democrats.
Instead, it only emboldened the GOP to strike back hard.
Obama, in his speech to an overflow crowd on the campus of Wayne State University, accused Republicans of not having “an agenda for the middle class.”
“They don’t have an agenda for Detroit. They don’t have an agenda for Michigan,” Obama added. “At a time when nearly all the gains of this recovery are flowing to the top 1 percent, cutting taxes for the same folks doesn’t make any sense.”
Michigan Republicans were angered by the assertion the GOP didn’t have a plan for Detroit after Republican Gov. Rick Snyder had appointed an emergency manager to shepherd the Motor City through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Bobby Schostak, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, said Schauer, the former congressman trying to unseat Snyder, should “apologize to the people of Detroit for allowing President Obama to come in and tell such a blatant lie.”
“President Obama demonstrated how out of touch he and Mark Schauer are with the real progress being made in Detroit,” said Schostak.
“For 50 years, we watched as Democrats kicked the can down the road and allowed a culture of corruption to consume our great city. Democrats want to go back to the old status quo when trash wasn’t picked up, lights weren’t working, emergency response times were nearly an hour and Kwame Kilpatrick was mayor,” Schostak added in a statement released by the Michigan Republican Party.
Groups of Detroiters also had to run donation drives to provide toilet paper to city firefighters stationed in their neighborhoods.
Those years, which included a 14.2 percent unemployment rate and more than 600,000 lost jobs when the domestic auto industry collapsed and took Michigan’s economy down with it, have been dubbed the “Lost Decade” by Michigan Republicans.
Michigan’s government at the time, led by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, turned dysfunctional with legislative budget stalemates that led to government shutdowns.
Michigan also saw the conviction of Detroit’s mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, a Democrat, on federal corruption charges.
Schauer was in the legislature during those years.
However, during a conversation with PJ Media at a campaign stop in Grand Rapids, Mich., on his way to the Detroit rally with Obama, Schauer took credit for Michigan’s economic revival.
“Economists tell us that Michigan’s economy started coming back as a result of me being there to help rescue the auto industry,” Schauer proclaimed. “Rick Snyder’s policies including a big corporate tax giveaway, raising taxes on working families and poor people, have been counterproductive. Michigan’s job growth rate has been just a third of the nation’s gross domestic product job growth.”
Gilbert, a past president of the Screen Actors Guild who now lives in Howell, Mich., with her husband Tim Busfield, told PJ Media it was an epiphany on a treadmill that led her to the Schauer campaign.
“I was walking on the treadmill at the gym and was going on and on and on about the state of Michigan, and how I thought this governor (Snyder) was not doing what I thought he should be doing, and I did a search to find out who was running against him,” she told PJ Media.
Gilbert discovered Schauer’s campaign website, did some research, called his office, and 20 minutes later the candidate called back and they met for lunch.
One of the issues that strikes home with Gilbert is Gov. Snyder’s elimination of the film and TV industry tax credit program that was created during the Granholm administration.
Gilbert said she would “love to see the film industry come to Michigan,” rather than having a locale in Canada, for instance, playing the part of the Wolverine State.
“We have everything here. Every time period can be shot here. Every type of topography can be shot here,” Gilbert explained. “And the benefit of having a film company come to town is the ripple effect with the jobs created and the way it affects the economy.”
Schauer said he might be tempted to bring back tax breaks to encourage the film and TV production industry in Michigan, but in a different form than the tax breaks that were granted to a stream of Hollywood production companies during the Granholm administration.
“I was there when we created the film and TV industry tax credit program,” he said. “Other states are taking that industry from us because Rick Snyder has pretty much decimated that program.”
“I wouldn’t do it exactly the way it was done before. This time it would be targeted toward creating Michigan jobs. But we need tools and policies that help grow our economy,” Schauer said. “The film industry is an example of that. It is a way to bring young people back to Michigan.”
An EPIC-MRA poll released by the Detroit Free Press a week before Tuesday’s vote had Snyder in the lead by only 2 points over Schauer and undecided voters had started swinging toward the Democratic Party’s side of the ballot.
“The ground game is starting to take effect with absentee voters,” said Bernie Porn, the president of EPIC-MRA. “We’ve got ourselves a real horse race here.”