McCain town hall in Reagan Democrat country

(Cross-post from Redstate)

Macomb County, Michigan, is one of the homes of the Reagan Democrat. Today, I saw John McCain give a town hall in the closing stretch of the Michigan primary. I don’t have pictures because my video camera was stolen, but I have impressions.

Michigan is in an a single-state recession. Unemployment is above 7%. Many of the current jobs are in manufacturing which, the Detroit News, the conservative paper in the state, has noted won’t come back. How to handle this is the fundamental debate. Mitt Romney is saying that he, personally, can turn the state around and that the future of Michigan is bright. McCain has argued that more realism and effort is needed, and has focused on retraining programs. My gut is that McCain wins this fight by recognizing the challenges. In New Hampshire exit polls McCain received substantially more support from people with economic anxiety, and Romney won only one economic subgroup, those making between $150k and $200k.

McCain’s answer is a retraining program. In March, I was in New Hampshire (before my camera was stolen), and asked him a similar question. This was his answer:

This is the backdrop of the town hall and the current debate in Michigan. Between 600-700 people attended (contrast with around 150 at Romney’s the previous day. In the Romney campaign’s defense, they have had some scheduling snafus that have forced them to cancel a number of events) The questions were primarily about national security, veterans, Iraq, etc., and economic issues like pharmaceuticals and healthcare, and the subprime crisis.

McCain was asked about the subprime crisis, and he passed the microphone to Carli Fiorina, the CEO of HP (formerly Hewlett Packard). She said that she had never campaigned before and was supporting McCain because he is "a unique and inspiring leader." She turned to answering the question and focused on the need for transparency and accountability. She said that there were many things "off balance sheet" so that risks couldn’t be properly accounted for. She then invoked Enron and said "if you can’t see it, you can’t understand it." One person in the audience liked the answer enough to say "Thank you Madame Vice President."

Off to an event at the Americans for Prosperity Forum.

links for 2008-01-12

Romney out of touch?

I have worried about the strange sense that I get that Mitt Romney is out of touch. He seems like a rich guy who doesn’t understand what normal people go through. The question is whether this impression gets down into the voters. MSNBC’s exit polls found that in New Hampshire the only income class that Romney beat John McCain was $150-200k, and they tied above $200k.

I was reminded of this when I saw an AP story today about Romney’s tax plan:

But the former Massachusetts governor goes beyond that to say "anyone" with adjusted gross income under $200,000 — that’s after certain deductions — should be relieved of all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends, pushing his definition of the middle class well into six-figure incomes.

Now, I don’t have a problem with Romney’s position, but the polling above suggests that people might be getting an impression here. This could be bad news for him in Michigan, when Mike Huckabee is relating to the people who have "been laid off" and Romney is talking about "getting rid of people." Especially when there is 7%+ unemployment.

Fred for real or a stalking horse?

Jen Rubin captures the most important dynamic leading into South Carolina:

Thompson gave himself an opening in South Carolina and gave conservatives a place to jump from the Romney leaking ship. He may have scuffed up Huckabee sufficiently to allow either himself or McCain to win SC. If the latter he ironically would have done his old friend the greatest of favors. (Perhaps one he might remember when it comes to filling VP slots should he get that far.)

Fred Thompson could be in a place to split the South Carolina conservative vote, especially with this nasty anti-Mike Huckabee ad running.

A John McCain win in Michigan, followed by Thompson knee-capping Huckabee in South Carolina could lead to a pretty positive place for McCain.

McCain campaign claiming momentum and seeking more endorsements

The John McCain campaign is trying to score some endorsements out of the ranks of other campaigns. They are  looking for a press boost and more momentum to add to what they already have. Note that with Rudy Giuliani’s complete pull-out of MIchigan those activists, voters, and endorsers may help with that boost.

Dear McCain Supporter,

Over the past 48 hours since John McCain’s comeback win in the New Hampshire primary, the McCain campaign has received many endorsements of people who were previously neutral, or in some cases had endorsed other campaigns. This list includes a former Governor, a high-ranking statewide official, State Representatives, County Chairs, and many more.  Senator McCain clearly has the momentum in this campaign and people want to be a part of it.  They know that he is the only candidate prepared to be Commander-in-Chief.

We will be releasing a new list of people in the next few days who have endorsed Senator McCain since his New Hampshire victory over Governor Mitt Romney.  If you would like to endorse, or have any family or friends whom you believe would like to join Sen. McCain’s campaign, please let me know at jyob@mccain08hq.com.  As we mentioned in a previous email, we request that any person who intends to run as a McCain delegate to the Republican National Convention emails us an official endorsement prior to the Primary.

Finally, here is a link to a list of people thought to support Mitt Romney in Michigan:  http://www.johnmccain.com/downloads/romneymisupporters.xls.

Based on what has happened the last few days, we have every reason to believe that many of these folks are ready to join Senator McCain’s campaign.  Several already have endorsed.  Please contact anyone you know on this list and encourage them to join the team and let them know their support would be appreciated.  We accept all late comers and would be grateful for the support of anyone who would like to climb aboard the Straight Talk Express as Senator McCain travels Michigan over the weekend!

Thank you for your help and strong support.

Sincerely,

John Patrick Yob

Deputy Political Director

John McCain 2008

PS:  Here is a link to the most recent Michigan poll – taken prior to the New Hampshire primary.  http://www.strategicvision.biz/political/michigan_poll_011008.htm

PSS: Here is link to the McCain Michigan Momentum video from the post-New Hampshire stops in Michigan.  Some of you are in the video! http://www.johnmccain.com/video/mi.htm

links for 2008-01-11

Romney and Giuliani delegate operations fail in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Secretary of State just released the list of filed delegates. Delegates then need to get signatures to get on the ballots. But… John McCain and Mike Huckabee filed 40 delegates. Fred Thompson 8. Mitt Romney 7. And Rudy Giuliani 0.

There are two stories here. The first one is that Romney’s delegate operation failed. They have the Governor, one of the delegates. The head of Students for Romney is one of the delegates. And that was all they could get. And this is a pro-choice, highly Italian state. Why didn’t they file?

This sounds like wheels coming off an organization.

Turnaround artist didn’t turn around Mass. Job Growth

In March of this year the Boston Globe analyzed Mitt Romney’s economic record in Massachusetts:

On all key labor market measures, the state not only lagged behind the country as a whole, but often ranked at or near the bottom of the state distribution. Formal payroll employment in the state in 2006 was still 16,000 or 0.5 percent below its average level in 2002, the year immediately prior to the start of the Romney administration. Massachusetts ranked third lowest on this key job generation measure and would have ranked second lowest if Hurricane Katrina had not devastated the Louisiana economy. Manufacturing payroll employment throughout the nation declined by nearly 1.1 million or 7 percent between 2002 and 2006, but in Massachusetts it declined by more than 14 percent, the third worst record in the country.

They lost total jobs, ranking 3rd from the bottom:

While the number of employed people over age 16 in the United States rose by nearly 8 million, or close to 6 percent, between 2002 and 2006, the number of employed residents in the Commonwealth is estimated to have modestly declined by 8,500. Massachusetts was the only state to have failed to post any gain in its pool of employed residents. The aggregate number of people 16 and older either working or looking for work in Massachusetts fell over the Romney years.

They lost total population:

We were one of only two states to have experienced no growth in its resident labor force. Again, without the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on the dispersal of the Louisiana population, Massachusetts would have ranked last on this measure. The decline in the state’s labor force, which was influenced in large part by high levels of out-migration of working-age adults, helped hold down the official unemployment rate of the state. Between July 2002 and July 2006, the US Census Bureau estimated that 222,000 more residents left Massachusetts for other states than came here to live. This high level of net domestic out-migration was equivalent to 3.5 percent of the state’s population, the third highest rate of population loss in the country. Excluding the population displacement effects of Hurricane Katrina on Louisiana, Massachusetts would have ranked second highest on this measure. We were a national leader in exporting our population.

Does Romney want to take this nationwide?