January 15th, 2008
06:15 AM ET
7 years ago

Roberts: Good Morning from a diner in Warren

 Roberts was live in Warren, Michigan this morning.
Roberts was live in Warren, Michigan this morning.

WARREN, Michigan (CNN) - Good morning from the National Coney Island Diner in Warren, Michigan. It’s just after 3 a.m., and it’s still three hours until the diner opens, but already there is a buzz in the air that goes beyond the neon lights that entice you to try “Coca-Cola,” “Beer and Wine” and “Sweets.”

This year, for the Republicans at least, Michigan’s contest takes on an importance rarely seen before. By moving up the date of the primary, Michigan - once little more than an afterthought in the nominating process - has become an active player, at least on the Republican side.

The state today has the potential to make or break the candidacy of native son Mitt Romney, was born in Michigan, where his father was a popular three-term term governor. He needs to do well, but John McCain has the electoral history in Michigan, having won the primary in 2000. The two candidates are taking contrasting message on the trail here. Mitt Romney says he believes he can bring back lost jobs in the auto industry and is pledging that in the first 100 days of his presidency, he would convene a summit to rebuild the Big Three automakers. McCain, on the other hand, believes many of those jobs are gone forever, and would focus instead on retraining for jobs of the future. Whose vision will Michigan Republicans buy?

There’s a wild card here, though. In 2000, an estimated 52 percent of voters in the GOP primary were not Republicans: Michigan has an “open” system, and Democrats and independents regularly participate in that party's contest. With the top three Democratic candidates not campaigning here because of Democratic National Committee sanctions - and, in fact, only Hillary Clinton's name on the ballot - there’s a good chance Democrats who want to make their vote count might vote in the Republican primary.

Is Michigan completely irrelevant for the Democrats? Not according to the state's governor, Jennifer Granholm. Though the state lost all of its party delegates when it moved the primary up before the February 5 cutoff date set by the DNC, Granholm believes the early position has focused new attention on Michigan’s economic woes - attention it would have never received had it s voters gone to the polls on or after February 5. Certainly, it does seem that we have been paying more attention to the auto industry and job losses in Michigan than in years past.

For decades, the media has trended toward covering the horserace rather than the issues. CNN has made a major commitment to change that mindset. We believe the way we can best serve our valued viewers is to help them make up their minds about the candidates by providing them with information. So, for the next month, as we take American Morning on the road to the early primary states, expect a lot of substance in our coverage. We hope you enjoy the change!

–CNN American Morning Anchor John Roberts


Filed under: John Roberts • Michigan
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Terry, El Paso, TX

    "For decades, the media has trended toward covering the horserace rather than the issues."

    I wholeheartedly approve of CNN's decision to put more emphasis on issues rather than the election race. Even the word we use – "race" – to describe an election suggests an athletic contest among the candidates. Actually, the election is something that the voters do, not the candidates. The voters choose or elect among the candidates.

    Our voters have come to expect a bunch of one-liners instead of a serious discussion of the various options before us and the relative merits of choosing this option as opposed to that one.

    Now if CNN could only figure out how to compel the candidates to describe how they actually intend to govern.

    January 15, 2008 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  2. Beth

    I'm from Michigan, I tend to align with the Democrat side, and yet I'm sick of all the Democrats here telling me to "vote uncommitted" so that it can be "like voting for Barack!" If the Democratic candidates cared about the state – which has traditionally given its electoral votes to the Democrat presidential candidate – then they should never have taken their names off of the ballot here. I feel like they are begging me to keep them in the game when THEY are the ones who voluntarily took themselves off the ballot. Michigan's economy is in a hole, people are fleeing the state left and right, and we are in dire straits. However no one on the Democratic side seems willing to step up and fight for our state.
    Therefore, I'm voting Republican today. At least they've been campaigning here, and at least those candidates have offered some hint that they understand and recognize the catastrophe in Michigan, and that they might do something about it. We're looking for some glimpse of hope here in the state, and so far, the Republicans are the only ones coming through for us.

    January 15, 2008 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  3. Thomas

    ABC – Michigan. Anybody But Clinton. Please.

    January 15, 2008 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  4. Steve, Chelsea, MI

    Voting for Mitt Romney today, the 2nd republican I've ever voted for in my life. (The other republican vote was for a neighbor running for a city position that he would have won anyway.)

    January 15, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  5. Attacked by the Establishment

    Thanks for the coverage of Ron Paul. Nice to see the media is fair and balanced!

    Wake up America! When you go Socialist and or Communist the media does as it is told to do and you will not see a fair presentation of the ideas and knowledge of all the candidates especially if any of them threaten the status quo!

    If President George Washington, Patrick Henry and the rest of the Founding Fathers were here today I know who they would favor but their ideas and their success at creating the greatest nation(once was) on earth has been tarnished by decades of brainwashing in the left-wing liberal school systems of this country and those voting today have forgotten from where they came. Ron Paul still remembers!

    January 15, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  6. UM Alum

    Michigan has a Democrat problem. The alliance between the unions and the Democrat Party is what has ruined the auto industry and the state. If instead of reelecting an incompetent Granholm, Michigan would look to a pro-growth Republican, they may have attracted the Toyota plants popping up in competitve states like Alabama and Mississippi.

    McCain is wrong... those jobs aren't lost forever. They've just moved to southern states without the unions and high taxes.

    January 15, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  7. Bob

    These are all the very same peole who brought you your unemployment. Let me put it this was. If your waering a red shirt, you take it off clean it up and then put it back on, it is still the same red shirt. Do you really believe any in this bunch will bring jobs to you? Ask them what types when they say tech jobs or any job. Just what type and what pay? I've been in the computer business all my life and the good tech jobs go to Offshore to Green Card holders or they go, period. If you want an Auto Job, go to Mexico where your old job is. Oh, I'm sorry they enforce their immigration law.

    January 15, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  8. sandy

    People better look hard at John McCain because he was a POW and his mind is not right yet. What he endured the rest of our country will endure from him.

    January 15, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  9. The Establishment

    Ron your paranoia makes you sound just like Ross Perot, why don't you quit posting these kind of comments, we know it's really you.

    "(Thanks for the coverage of Ron Paul. Nice to see the media is fair and balanced!

    Wake up America! When you go Socialist and or Communist the media does as it is told to do and you will not see a fair presentation of the ideas and knowledge of all the candidates especially if any of them threaten the status quo!

    If President George Washington, Patrick Henry and the rest of the Founding Fathers were here today I know who they would favor but their ideas and their success at creating the greatest nation(once was) on earth has been tarnished by decades of brainwashing in the left-wing liberal school systems of this country and those voting today have forgotten from where they came. Ron Paul still remembers!)"

    January 15, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  10. ne,pa

    We need a high IQ in the White House.
    Romney wins hands down.

    January 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  11. Jerry Calendine

    Michigan, just like Iowa and New hampshire, do NOT represent the US.

    January 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  12. Jack K.

    Nothing would make me feel better–than to have a "horrible" turnout for Ms. Clinton.

    I'm already over...her and Obama! The thought of their slippery rhetoric, poll driven leadership, lack of insight, race to embrace power, continued grid-lock, and lightning rod for the GOP for 4-8 more years gives me heartburn.

    I hope my fellow DEM's take a closer look at John Edwards.

    I may have to become an independent next go around.

    January 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  13. Brando

    Michigan voters: vote uncommitted, vote uncommitted, vote uncommitted!
    Omaba / Edwards '08. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

    January 15, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  14. Nathan, Erie, MI

    Where is the uproar for states' rights? The DNC has struck the hand of the Michigan voters as we outstretch pleading for help. As the nation grips for recession Michigan prepares for depression – and the DNC turns its head.
    Gather your weak your weary your humble – and make sure they vote at the end of the primary season. For as much attention as Michigan's voters are getting, we may be better off to call this a secondary.

    January 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. Brian Lapointe

    Dear John,

    If CNN wants to really change its mindset of coverage in this election that is great. I believe however it has already done damage to this election by chosing to cover candidates it likes versus candidates it doesn't. Joe Biden was a candidate that had the best experience in the democratic party. During your debates and coverage you didn't mention him or give him nearly the coverage he deserved. I believe the media is bought and sold in this country, and we no longer have a free press. That being said, how long can our country be great when the press who are supposed to be the watchdogs for the average Americans do the bidding of the wealthy corporate interests. We claim that Russia isn't truly a democracy because its press is controlled by the government, but is our country truly a democracy if the press is controlled by corporations? Maybe that should get some coverage some time. John Edwards has already been written off by CNN as well because you like the story of Hillary versus Obama better. Give Edwards the coverage he deserves and give the American citizens the President it deserves by letting the candidates earn it on their merit not the story line that you make up.

    January 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  16. Mark Wichita KS

    The Michigan auto industry should take a lesson from companies like Honda, Toyota, and Mitsubishi. They have all built plants in the US and are proving that you can in fact provide good paying jobs and in return build and sell quality autos at a fair price.

    Now your very own Democratic party that helped you build your powerful unions has left you, and you wonder why.

    January 15, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  17. West Palm Beach

    "We believe the way we can best serve our valued viewers is to help them make up their minds about the candidates by providing them with information. "

    CNN, seriously, how long did it take you to figure this out? Is this not the definition of journalism? I honestly ask, what is your mission statement? Wondering....

    January 15, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  18. orange

    All you Obama supporters should be worried about a candidate that so blatanly played the race card. Clinton was trying to point out that it takes more than flowery speeches to get the job done and Obama (who is desperately ducking having to talk about his Socialist economic plan) called her a racist. It will get him votes in South Carolina and it may even win him the nomination but it will destroy him in the general election.

    I want to thank all the Obama supporters for giving me another Republican White House!

    January 15, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  19. Rob

    Voting Un-Committed is such an act of desperation for Obama and his supporters. Talk about babies!!!

    January 15, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  20. RJ

    Let's forget the nicy, nicy "change" rhetoric for a moment. Anybody can make fancy speeches about "change." It's GETTING CHANGE IMPLEMENTED that matters. And that, for better or worse, takes a seasoned politician - yes, a politician - one who understands how the government in Washington works (and has worked for hundreds of years and will continue to work). It takes EXPERIENCE within that arena - the give and take, the negotiations, the consensus building. And that takes knowing and having worked with leaders in the executive and legislative branches. And it takes the clout of EXPERIENCE when dealing with rogue nations around the world, or bringing back respect for the American presidency by other nations. It takes EXPERIENCE to break the grasp by HMOs and managed care proponents, who make billions by curtailing basic healthcare for all Americans (and even "screw" their own insured). Those billions could easily pay for a national health care program. It takes someone like Hillary Clinton! I just hope that, when voters finally find themselves face to face with that ballot, they'll put all the rhetoric aside and remember the basics.

    January 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    For those voters in Michigan, I would request that if you don't like your choice that is printed, go with the other option - uncomitted. The problem that Michigan, and the rest of the country for that matter, is that we have been pushing the primaries and caucuses so far forward that it makes the race for the nomination a mess. Every state wants a say and sometimes it makes the national party realize that there is a problem. I would hope that all of Michigan, as well as other states including Iowa and New Hampshire, push back their primaries and caucuses back to March to start.

    I heard one idea that all of the state have a rotating set of who goes first by region. It would give every state a chance to be early. Both small states and large states would be in the mix.

    January 15, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. Dan, Washington DC

    "For decades, the media has trended toward covering the horserace rather than the issues. CNN has made a major commitment to change that mindset."

    Was that a joke? Because I'm not laughing. This is the first story I've seen in days on CNN that is even mildly related to issues. Everything else is "he said, she said" or "look at our latest poll that's absolutely meaningless because 30% of respondents were undecided".

    January 15, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  23. Scott, Royal Oak, MI

    Beth, the Republican candidates are campaigning here because their party didn't take away all of their delegates, not because they care, or because they're really going to do anything for Michigan.

    Michigan broke the party rules, and did so in a very sketchy way...moving the primary at essentially the last minute. I don't blame the candidates, who are responsible for abiding by party rules. I blame our state legislature, for attempting to get us a bigger say in the nomination process through a brash, not-well-thought-out move

    January 15, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  24. Rebecca, Michigan

    I voted for Mitt Romney today. His positive attitude is what Michigan needs. It's his positive attitude that brought the Olympics that were in economic crisis into a huge economic success. He brought honor to the United States at a time when the world was watching. Michigan is in an economic crisis. I believe he can turn it around just like he did the Olympics. He puts together the smartest people to solve problems. He will do this for Michigan and the nation.

    Vote smart. Vote for Mitt.

    January 15, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  25. Detroiter

    Voting "uncommitted" in the Democratic Primary is not "like voting for Barack".

    Per the DNC, if at least 15% of people in a district vote "uncomitted", then that district will recieve it's local delegate back. However, there is nothing saying that any "re-established" delegate has to vote for a particular candidate as in the other primaries.

    The point of voting "uncomitted" is to allow MI Dems to once again have a voice at the national convention in Denver later this year.

    January 15, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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