January 15th, 2008
06:30 AM ET
4 years ago

On the Trail: Michigan, the morning of the primary

DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) - I knew we landed in Detroit when a man at the rental counter demanded a GM car. The auto industry is the backbone of the decaying economy here, and that troubled economy is the central issue in today’s Republican primary.

CNN's latest national poll shows the economy is now the most important issue for 35 percent of voters nationwide. That ranks ahead of Iraq, health care, and terrorism. Late yesterday John asked former Gov. Mitt Romney if the country is in a recession. Romney danced around an answer, but 61 percent of Americans think we are - and here in Michigan, most voters we meet are wondering what’s taking so long for help to arrive. Yesterday, when we were scouting diner locations for this morning’s show, all the restaurants we visited were empty. Michiganders say that’s just another sign of their recession.

Romney’s solution seems to be improving the auto industry. His chief rival, Sen. John McCain, contends Michigan needs to accept many manufacturing jobs are lost forever, and that the state needs to focus on retraining its workforce for the new economy. Today, Michigan voters will decide which answer they prefer.

Next, we’re off to Las Vegas, where the economy is booming and a different set of issues are driving voters in this Saturday’s caucuses. We race to the airport right after the show. Once we land there, we’ll make a quick stop at the roulette table, then John goes door to door with campaign volunteers. You can watch what he finds tomorrow on American Morning, when we’ll be live from the Vegas Strip.

– CNN American Morning Producer Rebecca Kutler


Filed under: Michigan • Presidential Candidates
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. JOHN KERREY

    I HAVE A BETTER PLAN! I'M NOT SURE WHAT IT IS BUT BELIEVE ME IT IS BETTER THAN ANY OTHER PLAN OUT THERE.

    January 15, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Tom Masters

    The idiots in charge of the US auto-making industry deserve what they have, the workers don't B

    ut none of the politicians or CEO's would listen to us 4 years ago when we offered new technology and new product which would bring the torch of innovation back to Michigan.

    It's too bad I don't know how to link my tag with a web address or e address because we can fix this.

    All these guys are so full of themselves and say, 'think outside the box' and then they go back to the box and run in circles like a rodent. DUMB, WAY DUMB!

    CNN you may give my e address to anyone who wants it who wants to know how to fix the car industry, and the american economy/auto-worker segment affected.

    It's rediculous that Chuck Wagoner and Bill Ford have let it get this far when this was all avoidable, and it's sooo easy to fix but they won't hear of it.

    Save for the workers, I hope they all go broke!

    January 15, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Dalton

    I live in Michigan and our governor has been touting training workers for the new economy as her plan to revitalize the economy yet we are still in a one state depression

    January 15, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. SAHRON WALKER

    Dear Friends:
    On the trail again get some trail mix and enjoy!!! Country style,
    fresh air!!!! Every man woman and child a joy!!! Vote!!!

    Life a bowl full of jelley beans!!!!!

    January 15, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. charlotte

    Michigan is in big trouble, signs of times to come. The letter R-bad letter....Race,Religion,Recession, Republican need I say more

    January 15, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. CaptialismIsDemocracy

    Here's my question for all you "rich people" haters and Democratic supporters who most likely can't want to get your already extended hands on the government gimme prgrams Hillary and Barak are promising to gain votes......Can democracy prevail when capitalism fails?

    This is the land of opportunity, so if you are not secure financially, then look in the mirror if you are trying to figure out who to blame! Could it be perhaps that you dropped out of high school, didn't get a post secondary education (plenty of grants out there for "poor" people-it's only the middle class students that get left out of those educational gimmes!), or are you living paycheck-to-paycheck because you have more children that you can afford?

    For example, The Dems want socialized medical insurance-they seem justified in thinking that those of us who planned for our futures, got a marketable education and have a job should pay for your families' healthcare. I owe you nothing-you people need a large dose of accountability! What ever happened to good ol' American self-reliance??? My grandparents were dirt poor, but they NEVER took a hand-out from anyone; they were to proud to ever live off government welfare programs.

    It's a joke when some of the richest people, who are Democrates,Hillary, John Kerry, John Edwards or Ted Kennedy, pander to poor people to get elected. How ironic they have to take the silver spoons out their mouths first!

    In case you didn't notice, it was capitalism that brought down the Berlin Wall. After Communism had promised to give people everything and could deliver nothing-their government collapsed. So, "Better Be Careful What You Wish For," because it was Bill Clinton you can thank for NAFTA –moving jobs out of this country and also opening the flood gates to illegal immigrants who drag hourly wages down!

    Mitt Romney, a proven capitalist, had better win this election or we are all going be working for the Chinese government to pay back our national debt!
    And you think you are poor now!

    January 15, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. The Republican Party has been hijacked!

    Charlotte and Jeff. The Republican Party has been hijacked years ago!

    There are only two TRUE REPUBLICANS running for the office of the Presidency and they are Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul.

    The problem in America is not Republicans. The problem is that any pro-life official that wants to be elected HAS to run as a Republican. Huckabee taxes like a Democrat, Romney flips like a Democrat, and Giulianni pretty much IS a Democrat if it wasn't for his support in Iraq.

    REAL REPUBLICANS want lower taxes, smaller government, less foreign involvement, national sovereignty, and a better way of life for ALL PEOPLE.

    I can't wait until these Republicans return to Republican values!

    January 15, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. Sue, Michigan

    First off, Michigan does not have the highest tax rate in the nation. Our personal income tax rate is a flat 3.6%, one of the LOWEST. And our sales tax is 6%, well within what other states are charging.
    These low taxes (thanks to former Governor Engler and a Republican legislature) amount to less income for the state, combined with fewer federal dollars thanks to the Republicans, which in turn leads to unfunded programs, less money for schools, etc. This is not Granholm's fault, as she has been working with the Republican legislature who dropped the Small Business Tax and didn't replace that funding, because a Republican can never be for a tax, can he?
    Our problems stem from the auto industries concessions to unions, who want cradle to grave health care, high pensions, and high wages for people with high school educations, who then when they try to find another job, are totally unprepared to challenge a college grad for something. Did you know that benefits add $1500 to the base price of a new car?
    Add that to the unwillingness of US automakers to change their thinking and stop producing gas hogging vehicles, and the recipe for disaster was there. When is the last time you heard anyone say the following words "Conserve gasoline!" I can remember when there was an oil shortage and we LOWERED highway speeds to 55, thus saving fuel AND lives, and we were asked to cut down our usage. Not anymore. Just like the war, Americans are not supposed to have to sacrifice anything. (unless you count 4,000 dead soldiers and the trillions of wasted dollars, but who is?)
    Bush goes smiling over to Arabia, gives them weapons, and comes smiling home with no assurance of more production. We have to do this ourselves! Turn your thermostat down, drive the speed limit, combine errands...don't just do it for the environment, do it for the benefit of this country's welfare. When gasoline goes up, all prices go up. My husband works for a chemical company, and every one of their products uses a crude oil by-product, so all their prices are up.
    Come on America! Pass the word-CONSERVE OIL! It's the only way to bring the price down, because the Saudis (from whence the 9-11 terrorists REALLY originated) love this-they have a huge market in India and China, and they are sitting pretty.

    January 15, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. Joe

    At least the Republicans came to Michigan. Another brilliant Democratic move.

    January 15, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. Dan ~ Longview, WA.

    Yes we are in a recession.
    We are over taxed, and corporate billionaires reign.

    Can there be any doubt that Ron Paul is who this country needs? A man of the utmost integrity and a man of humility. But most importantly, a man with the right ideas – of tolerance, of love, of freedom, and – of course – of the people.

    Ron Paul is in the thick of this race. Almost 30,000 proud Americans already have cast their ballots for Ron Paul in both Iowa and New Hampshire:

    1. Romney 103,755 30%
    2. McCain 102,361 29%
    3. Huckabee 66,876 19%
    4. Paul 29,648 9%
    5. Giuliani 24,151 7%
    6. Thompson 18,712 5%

    January 15, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Li'l E from the Big D

    r.burdette, you obviously do not know Michigan's recent history. Before the
    current governor we had a Republican governor, John Engler, who delighted
    in cutting funding (taxes) and bled the state coffers dry. Not unlike the Bush
    policies we've been treated to as a nation for the last 8 years. (The Clinton
    surplus, the largest in a long time, is completely spent by Bush.) If you want
    to know what America's next 8 years are going to look like, regardless of the
    party affiliation of the next president, just look to Michigan. Hold on to your
    hats, America, we're in for a bumpy ride.

    January 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. David...Nevada

    Nevada for Romney... responsible economics...
    Unless of course you like McCains "straight talk" give up your auto worker jobs Michigan and work service industry.. Say, jack in the box, maid in a hotel, pick fruit.
    He's got an illegal waiting for every good paying Michigan auto worker job at 1/2 the pay. He seems beholdin to the mexican congress, just like hillary, obama and that other slick lawyer from NC. Stop importing poverty...

    January 15, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. Independant

    Will the ruling class continue to govern the US regardless of which political party wins?

    Today in the USA only 2% of the households own 80% of the world's assets. Within this small elite, a fraction embedded in financial capital owns and controls the bulk of the world's assets. Corporations such as Blackstone, Texas Pacific , Bain Capital Partners, Thomas H Lee Partners, Goldman Sachs, Carlyle, Apollo Management, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Merrill Lynch and Cerberus Capital Management reached an industry total of 402.6 billion in 2006.

    This small elite group pressure the government to 'bailout' bankrupt speculative firms and to balance the budget by lowering social expenditures instead of raising taxes on speculative 'windfall' profits. For the year 2006, Goldman Sachs (GS) recorded the most profitable year ever for a Wall Street investment bank, on the basis of big (speculative) 'trading gains and lucrative investment in the world's worst sweatshops in Asia.

    US financial ruling classes have long influenced, advised and formulated policy for US Presidents. But given the stakes, the risks and the opportunities facing the financial ruling class, it has moved directly into key government posts.

    One measure of the enormous influence of the financial ruling class in heightening the exploitation of labor is found in the enormous disparity between productivity and wages. Between 2000 and 2005, the US economy grew 12%, and productivity (measured by output per hour worked in the business sector) rose 17% while hourly wages rose only 3%. Real family income fell during the same period (FT November 2, 2006 p.11). According to a poll in the fall of November 2006, three quarters of Americans say they are either worse off or no better off than they were six years ago (FT November 3, 2006 p.13).
    The ruling class will continue to make drastic structural changes to ensure profitable returns and to retain influence. Changes in relocation of production overseas to low wage, low tax, non-union locations, the introduction of technology designed to reduce labor costs and increase productivity, and diversification of economic activity to incorporate lucrative financial 'services'.

    What is especially unprecedented is the dominant presence of members from one investment bank – Goldman Sachs. In late November 2006, Goldman Sachs (GS) senior executive William Dudley took over the Federal Reserve Bank of New York markets group. Hank Paulson, ex-CEO of GS is Treasury Secretary – explicitly anointed by President Bush as undisputed czar of all economic policies. Reuben Jeffrey, a former GS managing partner is the chief regulator of commodity futures and options trading, Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff (he decides who Bush sees, when and for how long – in other words arranges Bush's agenda) served as GS executive director. Robert Steel, former GS vice chairman, advises Paulson on domestic finance. Randall Fort, ex-GS director of global security, advises Secretary of State Rice. The ex-GS officials also dominate Bush's working group on financial markets and financial crisis management. The investment bankers wielding state power will control the Bush regime's biggest housing giants (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), tax policy, energy markets – all issues that directly affect the investment banks. In other words, the financial banks will be 'regulated' by their own executives.

    The degree of finance capital's stranglehold on political power is evidenced by the total lack of criticism by either party. As one financial newspaper noted: "Neither Mr. Bush nor Goldman have been criticized by Democrats for holding too many powerful jobs in part because the investment bank (GS) also has deep ties to Democrats. Goldman represented the biggest single donor base to the Democrats ahead of this (2006) year's mid-term election". (FT December 4, 2006)

    Neither the Democratic Party majority in Congress, nor the Republican-controlled Executive offer any proposals to challenge the financial ruling class's dominance nor are there any proposals to reverse its most retrograde policies causing the growing inequalities, wage stagnation and the increasing rigidity of the class structure. The reason has been reported in the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times: An overwhelming chunk of the funds that Democrats raise nationally for election campaigns also comes from the ruling class Wall Street financiers.

    January 15, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Bud

    Recession is a technical economic term, Romney is smart enough to know that. We are probably technically not in a recession but the ecomony is clearly slowing and people are hurting. I believe Romney has the ability to turn the economy around but there is no magic pill and I think this will be slow.

    January 15, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. The Who and Nero

    Meet the new boss,same as the old boss and the smell of Rome in the morning.

    January 15, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  16. Laura

    I am a registered Republican, but I will be voting Democratic if Mitt wins.

    January 15, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. Dean

    What is with the lie that Clinton is the only one in the Michigan Democratic primary

    January 15, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. FAIR TAX,LA.

    GO HUCK, GO FAIR TAX
    SEND WASHINTON A WARNING!!
    WE AMERICANS ARE TAKING OUR COUNTRY BACK FROM THE POWER. NO POWER FOR HILLARY TO RUIN OUR LIVES!!!
    NO IRS AS WE KNOW IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    NO TO LOBBIST !!!!!!!
    SPENDING REFORM!!
    NO SOCIAL MEDS TO RUIN BEST MEDICAL TREATMENT IN WORLD!! REWORK INSURANCE MED PLANS-YEAH!!
    IT'S ONLY THE START-YEAH!!
    WE CAN DO THIS, PRAY AND WORK HARD AND PLEASE RAISE YOUR KIDS WITH A FIRM BUT GENTLE HAND!!!!!!

    January 15, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
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