The Obama administration has patted itself on the back for the auto industry's turnaround, but Michigan Republicans aren't buying that the bailouts saved Detroit and plan to challenge the claim in the state's primary.
With candidates shifting resources to Michigan and super PACs investing millions of dollars in ad space this week, a central theme remains that Michiganders are the ones on the front lines, fighting for the American auto industry, while Obama is a mere spectator. [Time to Rally Behind President Barack Obama.]
"The credit in the auto industry goes to the people in the auto industry, the hard-working men and women," Michigan GOP party spokesman Matt Frendewey says. "It is disingenuous, and it is disrespectful for the president to come here and say that he is the reason that people are buying a Ford Fusion or a Chevy Malibu again when the reason is Michigan's workforce is making better products than their foreign competitors."
Michigan felt the sting of the recession perhaps more deeply than most states, with Detroit experiencing an unemployment rate of almost 30 percent in 2009.
"We are a blue-collar manufacturing state and we felt deeply the impact of failed Obama policies," Frendewey says.
Only recently has the state started to turn a corner on jobs, and the state's GOP credits the private sector for the state's successes. [Citizens United Means Anyone Can Still Get in the Game.]
With his private sector experience, Mitt Romney is expected to do well in his home state of Michigan, where his father once served as governor. But polling released yesterday showed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with a lead over native Romney.
"Santorum's going to find a receptive audience here. There are a lot of similarities between Santorum's state of Pennsylvania and Michigan. Both are blue-collar, industrial states," Frendewey says.
As GOP candidates campaign this week, Frendewey suggests that Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Romney, and Santorum should focus their messages on plans for rejuvenating the private sector economy and growing jobs, since that's what appears to be working in Michigan.