The Republican Primary Election, a.k.a. War of the Clowns, comes now to Michigan. From now until Tuesday, February 28, the Clowns, er-r-r Candidates, will debate, run "factual but untrue" TV commercials about each other, and generally annoy Michiganders no end.
Michigan and six other states hold Republican primary elections in February... two of them, Arizona and Michigan, on the 28<sup>th</sup>. However, although it is one of the last two, Michigan is already hosting candidate visits. Michigan is considered a "swing state" in the general election, and is a heavy labor state that is presently undergoing the second most vibrant recovery in the country by some accounts. In sports terms, Michigan has gone from worst (14.1% unemployment with business and population nose-diving) to first (9.1% unemployment with a rapid rate of recovery in manufacturing, business and population) during the course of the recession. That scenario has every candidate salivating to take responsibility for some part of such a wonder.
The problem is, of course, that none of them had anything to do with Michigan's recovery. About all they can say is that the Obama Administration did it wrong. It will be interesting to see their various takes on "wrong." Romney and Santorum are on record as saying using $81 billion as loans and stock purchase financing for GM and Chrysler should never have happened. Romney, in fact, wrote a New York Times op ed piece entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" after standing in the doorway of a closed factory and declaring that he would do all in his power to help them. Gingrich simply excoriates the administration for anything and everything, and Ron Paul just votes "No." Differentiating themselves on this issue will be difficult. And they seem to have forgotten that Detroit is called Motown for a reason.
As of February 9, Gallup polling showed the following: Romney 34%, Gingrich 18%, Paul 10% and Santorum 22%. Obama and Romney were in a dead heat and Obama led Gingrich 53% to 41%. The primaries percentages had changed by as much as 2% in one day, and Gingrich had dropped by 7%. Despite his faux pas of declaring Obama's bail-out of GM and Chrysler great mistakes and governmental overreach, Romney's father was an auto executive, and he's, therefore, a sort of Michigan royalty. It will take a lot to drop Mitt Romney into the pack in Michigan.
Since it was mentioned, who IS to blame for Michigan's rapid turnaround? Well, Michigan's new Republican Governor Rick Snyder would like some of the blame. After all, he and the Republican Legislature spent a lot of political capital by taking money from the State's poor and elderly and the children by raiding the education fund, and pretty much just gave it to business and wealthy investors. Unfortunately, his Democratic predecessor was unable to be of much help, since the same Republican legislature simply blocked all of her initiatives and waited for the backlash that elected Snyder.
The candidates' angst notwithstanding, the Obama Administration's auto company bailout deserves a significant amount of credit. With a tragic assist from the Japanese Tsunami tragedy, GM is once again the world's largest auto-maker, and Chrysler is introducing new products and growing rapidly. The recent and continuing growth in auto sales is driving production, and auto production is driving much of Michigan's recovery.
Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons