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Barack Obama

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
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Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign did not show up at a conference in Cleveland to discuss the Great Lakes.

Organizers of the Great Lakes Restoration Conference say both presidential campaigns were sent invitations at the same time.

Former E.P.A. director Carol Browner spoke on behalf of President Obama at the conference yesterday.

She touted the president’s investment of one billion dollars for cleaning up and restoring the lakes.

When asked if the president would support permanently separating Lake Michigan from the Mississippi River to keep Asian carp out, she said it’s being studied.

"That process is underway and I have the utmost confidence that the president will take the results of that process very, very seriously," said Browner.

A spokeswoman for the Romney campaign said they couldn’t fit the event into his schedule.

She criticized the Obama administration for not acting more quickly to stop Asian carp.

Official White House portrait

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - President Barack Obama's re-election campaign says the wife of Vice President Joe Biden will speak at events in three Michigan cities on Saturday.

The campaign says Jill Biden will appear in Battle Creek, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. It says details on her appearances will be announced later.

The stops come during a planned tour during which the vice president's wife will appear Friday in Minneapolis and Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham talks with Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Michigan Radio

Tonight brings the emotional high point of the Democratic National Convention - the speech from President Barack Obama.

All week long, Michigan Radio's Lester Graham has been in North Carolina. He's been covering the convention and the Michigan delegation.

Governor Snyder talked about Republican hopes of turning Michigan to a red state. But the  Democrats in Charlotte will likely have something to say about that.

Graham tells us the delegates in Charlotte are optimistic, but they know they have some work to do to get people to the polls in November.

MichigaMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder at a Univ. of Michigan basketball game.n Gov. Snyder gets cagey on subject of weight loss.
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Cyndy spoke with Michigan Governor Snyder for Thursday’s premiere show.

The Governor is just back from the Republican National Convention and told Cyndy that he thinks Michigan could go for Republican Mitt Romney in November.

“There are good chances and I told that to their [the Romney] campaign,” Snyder said.

He noted the major sweep for Republicans – both statewide and nationally – in 2010 as an example of the GOP making headways in the state.

Snyder also says he doesn’t plan to say negative things about President Obama during the presidential campaign.

“Public service is a major challenge on anyone,” Snyder said. “We need to partner with the federal government and local government and we want to work in a positive, constructive way. I don’t believe in doing negative activities,and I stick to the positive side of things.”

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

Buttons for sale at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan delegates are meeting and debating and planning at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

But the delegates are also buying stuff.

One of the things you find at these political conventions are souvenirs. 

I pulled Michelle Evans Pejokovich off the cash register for a moment to tell us what they're hawking.

"We have t-shirts, iPhone covers, car magnets, bracelets, bangles, cuff links, t-shirts, tote bags, runway for change," said Pejokovich.

Some of the other items for sale:

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan delegates are at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this week. Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham is covering the event, and gave us his impressions about this year’s convention.

Graham said there’s some concern about whether there is enough enthusiasm to get the vote out for President Obama this year, as opposed to four years ago.

“Michigan Democrats seem to be convinced that if they can get the vote out, they’ll be doing fine, that Michigan will be a blue state again, and that Barack Obama will be re-elected as President,” he said.

Kate Wells

Vice President Joe Biden took the spotlight at Detroit’s Labor Day parade. It's one more sign that the auto bailout is shaping up as a central theme of the Obama-Biden campaign.

Last week Republican nominee Mitt Romney asked Americans if they were better off today than four years ago. Now comes part of the Democrats’ response: you sure are if you’re an auto worker.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Romney campaign says it plans to actively campaign In Michigan “until the end”.  But there is one major campaign component that Romney officials haven’t committed to yet.  Four years ago, the John McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan a month before the presidential election. State Republican leaders blamed that decision for hurting GOP turnout in Michigan in 2008.  Katie Gage says that won’t happen this year.  She’s a deputy director for the Romney campaign. Gage says the Romney campaign will be in Michigan “until the end”, with phone banks, local campaign offices and mailings.

Commentary: Post-conventional wisdom

Aug 31, 2012

The Republican National Convention is over. The Democratic National Convention is about to begin. And unless something unexpected happens next week, my guess is that the world will little note nor long remember what anybody did at either gathering.

It's a "swing-state" edition of It's Just Politics this week. The big political question in the mitten-state currently seems to be "Is Michigan a true battleground - a swing state - in this year's presidential race?" You certainly would not be blamed for thinking so considering all of the campaign love that Michigan got this week.

Vice President Joe Biden was in Detroit on Wednesday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was in West Michigan yesterday campaigning on behalf of fellow Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and, just today, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan visited Commerce Township.

Are we a (politically) fickle state?

This level of attention would seem to suggest that Michigan is a battleground state alongside  those perpetual swingers: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Colorado. There are certainly reasons to believe why this could be the case, even though Michigan has gone for the Democratic nominee in the last five presidential cycles. But, if you look back even further, the five cycles before that, Michigan voted for the Republican presidential candidate every time.

It would appear that we are a fickle state. Michigan may be blue, but it elects Republicans in statewide races all the time: Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson – just to name a few. And, even while Democrat Jennifer Granholn was governor, Attorney General Mike Cox and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land were both Republicans.

Interestingly enough, Michigan’s record tilts more heavily toward sending Democrats to Washington D.C.. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow are, of course, Democrats. And, in this election cycle, Republican Senate nominee Pete Hoekstra hopes to alter that trend, like Spence Abraham did –albeit for just one term – in 1994.

What do the polls say?

In this year's race, President Obama’s generally been given the edge in most polls in the state, even though Mitt Romney was born in Michigan and his father was governor here. But, just because he can claim "native-son" status, the Romney name does not always equal ballot magic. Romney's brother, Scott Romney, lost his reelection bid to the Michigan State University and his mother Lenore Romney failed in her U.S. Senate bid back in 1970. A former sister in law, Ronna, who ran with the Romney name also lost a Senate race.

A poll was released this week by Foster McCollum White and Associates for the Fox TV station in Detroit that gave Romney a four point lead over President Obama; and a slight lead for Pete Hoesktra over Senator Debbie Stabenow.

But, then, another poll was released this week that put President Obama and Senator Stabenow in the lead. So, it begs the question - which poll is right? The reality is there’s no objective measure for regular folks to use to judge the credibility of a poll. The only reality to compare it to is… other polls.

Is Michigan a swinging state?

So, aside from the polls - the question remains: are we a swing state or not? It would seem if the presidential campaigns didn’t think Michigan was relevant to them in November then they wouldn't be spending so much time here. But, one can argue that there are a whole lot of other reasons why candidates visit a place. Certainly, persuading voters is a big one. Keeping the base energized is another - especially in a year like this when it seems like most people have made up their minds who they want, or who they don’t want in the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden warns that if Mitt Romney is elected President, the country will return to the “failed policies” that caused a near-economic collapse in 2008.

Biden rallied supporters at Detroit’s Renaissance High School Wednesday. It was a stop on a brief campaign swing through Michigan that also included a fundraiser in West Bloomfield.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Immigrant advocates are celebrating a new policy that offers some protections for young immigrants.

And a few of them wasted no time heading to US immigration offices in Detroit on Wednesday, the first day applications became available.

The new Obama administration policy is the so-called the DREAM Relief Program—or, more formally, the “Deferred Action Enforcement Process for Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is refocusing his tax plan to strengthen the middle class. Romney was in Colorado Thursday to outline his plan, which included points that have been previously released.

In Michigan and other states the campaign lined up several small business owners to share their support for Romney.

Tyce Holst owns Taylor Rental and Party Plus, a rental store in Holland that employs 10 full time workers. Holst says the recession forced him to lay off two employees.

Student debt by year
Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Students at Michigan's five largest universities sought more loans to pay for college, according to a Detroit Free Press database

These students will join recent graduates around the country whose outstanding private and federal education debts have topped $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to the data, as of 2010, students in Michigan have the 11th highest average debt of any state.

user cohdra / MorgueFile.com

If you get an email from President Obama, saying he wants to pay your electric bill, it's best to delete it.

A countrywide email and text message scam in which the sender offers to pay the recipient's utility bills through a new federal program in exchange for sensitive identity information has hit metro Detroit.

And some are taking the bait, reports The Detroit News' Charles E. Ramirez:

The President and the Chief Justice: An ironic history

Jul 11, 2012

Of all of the hyper-partisan episodes in the long political career of President Barack Obama, there is one that strikes me as being historically ironic.

In 2005, the then-junior Senator from Illinois voted against the confirmation of U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. as Chief Justice of United States Supreme Court. It turned out to be Justice Roberts whose actions on that court saved President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation.

Commentary: The Health Care Decision

Jun 28, 2012

Last night I was thinking of a moment in American history not that long ago, when a newly elected conservative Republican President had to choose a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The president was neither a scholar, a lawyer, nor an intellectual, and his choice filled the legal community with dismay. He picked a former governor and failed vice presidential candidate who had never served a day as a judge.

Commentary: Baseball and Politics

Jun 22, 2012

You may not have realized this, but the best thing President Obama may have going for him in November is that the Detroit Tigers are having a pretty disappointing season.

That may sound nuts to you, but there is documented evidence of this:  Throughout history, whenever the Tigers have done spectacularly well in an election year, the Republicans almost always win. When they’ve disappointed fans, the Democrats usually triumph.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

“This is a defining time for this country. That’s a place where the president and I agree,” the Republican Presidential candidate said in Holland Tuesday night. Thousands of Romney supporters in shorts and sandals rallied on the shore of Lake Michigan at Holland State Park.

Romney’s 20-minute long speech focused on how important a strong American economy and military are to the rest of the world.

“American strength is the best ally peace has ever known. We must strike for a strong America,” Romney said.

Romney says the president’s health care overhaul is hurting small businesses. He says the economy is being dragged down by uncertainty about the federal debt. He says he worries that the United States is headed on the same path as Greece.

publiceye.org / wikimedia commons

A five-day, six-state bus tour by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will wind up next week in his home state of Michigan.

Romney last visited Michigan in May.

The Michigan swing with three stops will cap off a tour of half a dozen states deemed potential battlegrounds by the Romney campaign.

A survey of voters released last week suggests Michigan could be a toss-up between Romney and President Obama.

The president has made almost a dozen trips to Michigan to talk about green energy jobs, or to proclaim the success of the automotive rescue package. His campaign will spend this week calling attention to businesses that benefited from the auto recovery. Romney – who was born in Detroit -- opposed government loans to keep Chrysler and GM solvent through bankruptcy.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

State threatens to pull revenue if consent deal challenge continues

Detroit’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, is challenging the city's consent deal with the state of Michigan. State officials want the challenge to stop. The state Treasurer's Office sent the city a letter. From the Detroit Free Press:

The state Treasurer's Office warned the City of Detroit on Thursday that it could lose $80 million or more in state revenue sharing unless Mayor Dave Bing gets a lawsuit dropped by next week that challenges the city's financial stability agreement with the state.

Mayor Bing issued a statement last night saying he'd received the letter. Bing said Crittendon "believes she has the right to file the complaint."

However, as I have said before, this action only impedes our progress and places the City’s fiscal recovery in grave jeopardy. My team is working closely with the State to mitigate any negative impacts on my administration’s plan to financially stabilize the City. We want this matter resolved expeditiously for the sake of the citizens of Detroit.

Michigan House panel aims to put limits on abortion

A set of bills going through the legislature will put more restrictions on abortion providers in the state. A state House panel passed them yesterday, and now the bills are on the way to the state House floor. More from the Detroit News:

A House committee on Thursday advanced a three-bill package to the floor requiring abortion clinics to be licensed surgical centers, imposing new requirements for disposing of the remains of aborted fetuses and making it a crime to coerce a woman into terminating a pregnancy.

One of the bills includes a ban on late-term abortions for unborn children 20 or more weeks developed, with a narrow exception when the mother's life is at risk, said the bill sponsor, Rep. Deb Shaughnessy, R-Charlotte.

Polls show it's close between Obama and Romney in Michigan

Michigan is looking more and more like a swing state for either candidate. From the Huffington Post:

A poll released on Thursday by Lansing-based pollster EPIC-MRA has President Obama and Mitt Romney running neck and neck in Michigan, with Romney leading with 46 percent to Obama's 45 percent.

In a release, the Michigan Republican Party touted the results as evidence of Romney's growing strength in his home state. That would represent a shift from other polling conducted in the state, as well as EPIC's polling in April, which gave Obama a 4-point lead.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Immigration advocates are calling on the Obama administration to scale back efforts to deport some undocumented immigrants in Michigan.

stmarylansing.org

The Michigan Catholic Conference has filed a lawsuit in federal court to block an Obama administration rule that requires employer health plans to offer contraception coverage. The Catholic church opposes birth control.

The Catholic Conference offers health coverage to about 10,000 employees and their dependents at Catholic parishes, schools and charities across the state.

Paul Long is the president of the Michigan Catholic Conference.

“Inasmuch we provide this benefit, this mandate would be very restrictive upon us," Long said. "We felt that we needed to act in a way that was in keeping with who we are and being able to continue to provide the plan that we’ve always provided.”

The lawsuit says the contraception requirement violates the church’s religious freedom. It was filed at a federal court in Ohio. Franciscan University of Steubenville-Ohio is also part of the lawsuit.

Small business owners and hopeful entrepreneurs are in Detroit today to get advice on  starting or improving a business.

The Urban Economic Forum, held by The White House Administration, hopes to help entrepreneurs in Detroit connect to resources and network with other business leaders.

The White House Administration said it is committed to supporting the Detroit area’s small businesses.

CBS Detroit reports:

Among the topics of discussion were the resources available to minority and urban entrepreneurs who are trying to access capital for their businesses. Mentors were also available to provide advice to business owners.

In a press, release the White House Administration wrote that other Urban Economic Forums will be held in Chicago, Illinois, and Columbus, Ohio.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Obama Administration wants to step up efforts to promote the U.S. as an international tourism destination. That’s welcome news to the folks who run the “Pure Michigan” campaign.

Michigan tourism officials know people from foreign countries come here to vacation, but they don’t know how many, and that’s important to know when they’re planning how to spend the “Pure Michigan” campaign’s $25 million advertising budget.  

This year, only about one percent,  or about $250,000, is being spent to promote Michigan as a tourism destination in Europe, mainly in England and Germany. Nothing is being spent in Asia.

George Zimmerman oversees the “Pure Michigan” campaign for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. He says the Obama Administration’s tourism strategy includes determining where foreign visitors want to go.

“For about half the states, including Michigan, there just isn’t enough sample size to really have good data. So, that’s been a challenge for us, says Zimmerman. 

Right now, the “Pure Michigan” campaign is focusing on regional promotions with some national ads, and “a modest effort” in Canada.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

In this week's edition of It's Just Politics, Rick Pluta and I take a look at the politics of taking credit for a good economy. Governor Snyder says Michigan's economy is improving but that's not the story that Mitt Romney wants to tell.

Zoe Clark: Rick, I have a great idea for this week's show!

Rick Pluta: Actually, Zoe, I think maybe it was someone else’s idea first.

Mitt Romney: “So, I’ll take a lot of credit...”

RP: That’s our cheap setup for the fact that Mitt Romney paid a visit to Michigan this week.

ZC: Indeed, he campaigned this week at Lansing Community College.

RP: Prior to hitting the ground here in Lansing, Romney gave an interview with an Ohio TV station, where he said President Obama really followed his plan - the Romney plan - for the bailout of the auto industry.

ZC: And, so, there’s this disconnect. Was the bailout bad? Or, wasn’t it? Governor Rick Snyder – a Romney supporter -- says it’s time to just stop talking about it.

Rick Snyder: “I think too much time is spent on the whole bailout question. It worked, it's done, it's over with. There's  other ways it probably could have been done. But, the point is it was successful."

RP: So, move on, folks. There’s nothing more to see here. Let’s change the subject. And this speaks to the sometimes awkward dance between governors and presidential candidates -- when they are from the same political party.  Rick Snyder is telling people things are looking up.

Snyder: “Now, if you look at where we're at, we’re the comeback state in the United States today.”

RP: The “comeback state,” outpacing the nation in job creation, manufacturing on the rise. And Mitt Romney?

Romney: “These last few years have been hard on the people in Lansing and frankly they've been hard on the people of America. “

ZC: Not hearing that relentless positivity there.

RP: This guy’s harshin’ my mellow. 

ZC: Rick Snyder does say there’s more work to be done. That Washington needs a healthy dose of what’s working in Michigan. But that’s not Romney’s message.

RP: Right. Where Rick Snyder says life is good and getting better, Mitt Romney says you’re worse off than you might have been. It’s not good, and whatever might be good is going to head south without some change.  

ZC: This dichotomy is not new. In the 1990s, the economy was booming John Engler was the Republican governor of Michigan, Bill Clinton, the Democratic president. When it came to that success…

RP: Credit for a good economy wasn’t a problem for Governor Jennifer Granholm. With George W.Bush in the White House, the economy was bad and it was a battle of blame. And it became mutually assured political destruction - we saw that by the time the time both of them office - Bush in 2009, Granholm on January first of 2011 - they were both pretty unpopular.  

ZC: That speaks to a few things, but one of them is people seeking office will cast a lot of blame for the bad, lay claim to the good, but there are really a lot of things outside their control that will decide the state of the economy and the state of their popularity.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

George Orwell once said that those who control the past, control the future. If you can revise history to fit your point of view, it gives you power. So, it should be no surprise that presidential candidates are struggling over some recent history - the auto bailout.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Democrats were waiting outside of Mitt Romney’s speech, ready to criticize the Republican presidential contender.

Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer says Romney's policies will take Michigan in the wrong direction.

“Romney wants to go back to the days of George W. Bush,” says Whitmer, “We need progress in the state of Michigan.  Thank god we had someone like President Obama when the autos needed help.”

Democrats also claim the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s budget plans would hurt college students, like those in his audience at Lansing Community College.

Mitt Romney
(courtesy of MittRomneyCentral.com)

Mitt Romney will make his first visit to Michigan this week since the state’s February presidential primary. The apparent Republican presidential nominee will deliver a speech in Lansing.

Mitt Romney won a narrow victory over Rick Santorum in the Michigan Republican primary.

Romney will speak at Lansing Community College tomorrow afternoon. His speech is expected to focus on the economy, and he will say President Obama’s policies have failed to sufficiently lift middle class families.

The visit is a hint that Republicans may consider Michigan a battleground state.

World Resources Institute

Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" has created no shortage of controversy recently. And as Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williams reported last week, debate over this controversial method of extracting oil and gas from deep inside shale deposits has made its way to the Michigan statehouse.

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