President Obama’s campaign is launching a new effort in Michigan this week to showcase businesses that have benefited from the auto rescue, one of the White House’s favorite election-year stories.
Michigan has not widely been regarded as a swing state — Obama has held a solid lead in most polls this year and Romney, despite being born in Detroit, only barely beat Rick Santorum in its Republican primary contest. But a recent poll by in-state firm EPIC-MRA showed a dead heat, prompting speculation that Republican outside groups’ advertising campaigns may be a threat to Democrats if left unchallenged. Notably, a new bus tour of small towns announced by Romney will include Michigan.
The campaign will highlught a variety of businesses this week that were affected by the auto industry’s recovery, according to The Detroit News, including restaurants and manufacturers that would have seen their revenues dwindle or collapse if the major car companies had gone under.
Romney has finessed his position on the auto bailout throughout the campaign, including his recent suggestion that he would have committed significant resources to move car companies through bankruptcy. But his vagueness on the topic and vehement opposition to the Bush administration’s 2008 aid package have given Obama an opening to attack.
Both campaigns are trying to gain the upper hand on jobs this week, primarily by highlighting what they consider telling gaffes by the other side.
In Obama’s case, he said in a press conference Friday that “the private sector is doing fine” in comparison to the public sector, which has been bleeding jobs. Republicans have put out myriad press statements and videos arguing the line showed the president was out of touch with Americans’ struggles.
But Romney said later the same day that he considered Obama’s plan to fund “more firemen, more policemen, more teachers” an unnecessary expansion of government. “Did he not get the message of Wisconsin?” Romney said. “The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” The quote prompted the Obama campaign to accuse Romney of wanting to eliminate key jobs among the most popular public-sector workers.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the president would visit Michigan as part of the effort to highlight the auto rescue. In fact, campaign officials and surrogates will be mounting the Michigan campaign. TPM regrets the error.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.