January 14th, 2008
03:59 PM ET
14 years ago

Romney's pitch to Michigan: It's the economy, stupid

DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) -– Republican Mitt Romney addressed the Detroit Economic Club on Monday, telling the assembled business leaders, “What Michigan is feeling will be felt by the entire nation unless we win the economic battle here.”

“Michigan is a bit like the canary in the mineshaft. What's hurting Michigan,” he continued, “will imperil the entire nation's economy."

The central focus of Romney’s pitch to Michigan voters has been getting the state out of what Romney calls a “one-state recession.” Many manufacturing plants in Michigan have either cut back their work force or shut down all together, resulting in the country’s highest unemployment rate, 7.4 percent.

“It is inexcusable to me to see these jobs going away again, and again and again,” Romney said outside a GM plant that had just announced 200 layoffs. “Where does it stop? Is there a point at which someone says ‘you know, that’s enough?’”

His plan to stimulate the economy calls for increased investment in research and development in science and technology, eliminating the savings tax, and working with homeowners to avoid foreclosures.

Crowds have been responding with applause when the Michigan-born Romney mentions his father George, a three-time Michigan governor.

A win in Michigan is has become central to Romney’s candidacy after losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, though he has said he will continue to campaign even if he isn’t victorious. Michigan holds its primary Tuesday.

Romney is locked in a tight race with primary rivals John McCain and Mike Huckabee in polls released this weekend.

- CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt

Filed under: Michigan • Mitt Romney
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Sandy, St. Paul, MN

    Romney WON'T be getting MY vote. He keep saying he has a plan for 'affordable private healthcare' but won't tell his plans. Is he going to raise everyone's salary, so they can afford the astronomical rates? I doubt it. Is he going to lower the rates that private companies can charge? I don't think that the 'shareholders' would allow it. He's blowing smoke out of his nether regions with NO PLAN, other than lying and cheating his way into the White House.... and look how well America fared after the last idiot who did that....

    January 14, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Sanjit

    I'm curious as to why the none of the Democrat candidates save Clinton appear on the Michigan ballots, whereas on the national scene all of them are going to town publishing comprehensive recession battle plans. It would seem to me that a state that desperately needs a resuscitation plan deserves at least to have Democrat candidates battling to address these issues. In a national debate where the state of the economy is the most important issue across party lines, and having such an excellent case study at a state level for candidates to showcase their implementation strategies, how this can be allowed to happen is particularly disturbing.

    January 14, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. Nate

    Ok, since everyone feels Mitt's business experience is what qualifies him for presidency, let's go over that experience. He wasn't actually responsible for running business, he made his money buying and selling companies. He's not a business man he is a salesman. He made a lot of money for himself, his associates, and some stock holders, but the workers paid the prices. Romney made some nice money for himself while killing Stage Stores, DDi, KB Toys, Babbages, Holson-Burnes, and Dade-Behring. I'm sure the employees of those company don't feel his experience qualifies him. Bain made $100 killing Ampad. They fired 100s of employees and offered to "rehire" them at lower wages with less benefits.

    Of his three suggestions to solve Michigan's problems only one even directly applies. Removing savings tax I'm not against, but it doesn't help someone who has no money to put in savings. That plan helps the board members more thn the line workers. Bailing out homeowners in the sub prime crises means government spending money. Investing in research and development alo means spending money, but is the only thing that would actually help in Mich. Too bad Romney's track record has been to cut R&D not improve it.

    January 14, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. MiddleClass, TX

    "His plan to stimulate the economy calls for increased investment in research and development in science and technology, eliminating the savings tax, and working with homeowners to avoid foreclosures."

    Yeah right Mitt, I'm sure your plan also includes giving your old company Bain Capital no-bid defense contracts. Mitt obviously has no national security concerns about the deal between Bain Capital, 3Com and China which is the reason it's currently being investigated.

    Romney and Cheney are two peas in a pod! People, this guy cannot be trusted!

    January 14, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  5. Lynette

    I watched Mr. Romney at the debate. I must say that I do not trust him.
    To me, he seems to lack sincerity and of course I know he lacks military experience!

    January 14, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  6. Jack

    Gee, after the last two contests I thought we were done with Mitt. His poor placement in both Iowa and New Hampshire demonstrate exactly what is wrong with our primary system. He didn't win the top spot in either race yet according to CNN.com, he has the most delegates of any Republican candidate. He is spending money in Michigan and is fighting for a place on the ticket yet in a survey announced this morning by that gorgeous Robin Meade of CNN Headline News, 6 out of 10 voters in this country will not vote for him. Fred Thompson is proof that a political marriage doesn't always help a candidate; he needs to go back to Law and Order and beg for a cameo appearance. While Rudy Giuliani did a fantastic job in NYC on September 11th, he has yet to place in the top three spots. I had never heard of Duncan Hunter until my daughter was required to write a paper about him last year. I found that he is an honorable man who should have never attempted a run for the office. Ron Paul is the Republican answer to the Democrat's Dennis Kucinich; both candidates are provided as an alternative for those who refuse to grow up.

    That leaves the Republican ticket with two candidates. John McCain who has had a long and distinguished record of service in the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, he is part of the establishment that he seeks to change. That leaves us with Mike Huckabee. While I like most of what Gov. Huckabee says, I am concerned about some of his past beliefs and wonder if he will be able to win against the Democratic nominee.

    What this country needs is another candidate with the charisma and charm of Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately we are left without an heir aparent.

    January 14, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. Teacher

    AMANDA. Can you say I am smarter than a 5th grader?You will be lucky if he doent out -source your job or bring someone in on a N1B1 VISA TO FILL IT.This man will do what ever the Elites tell him to do.

    January 14, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. xtina - chicago IL

    Mitt far outshines any candidate in business mgmt. and economics, but I fear some Americans cannot get past their prejudice about Mormonism and fear that he will somehow foist it upon us other Americans. It's a shame that Gov. Romney is in a position where he has to defend his religion, and it's just wrong to put him in that position.

    January 14, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  9. Luciob1

    I heard McCain say that we just have to accept that the jobs that are gone aren't coming back, and we need to re-train people...Doing what? There few decent jobs left in our Nation and those that exist are considered too difficult for Americans (thus tech companies importing "talent" via H2 visas), or have been taken from US citizens (McCain wants amnesty so that current illegals can keep their construction and factory jobs that US citizens lost due to the illegal actions of employers lowering wages and paying illegals who have stolen identities.)

    January 14, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. Jake, Brussels, BELGIUM

    No offense, Nate, but you have a very limited comprehension of strategy consulting and private equity. In both, the key is improving a business to the point that it is worth more. Sometimes this results in a merger, acquisition, or divestment. While on occasion, as may have been the case in the one example you cited, some jobs are lost. Net though many more are saved or generated.

    I've noted that many of the funny mathemeticians out there criticizing Romney or promoting their guy rarely look at the net bottom line...just pick out a stat or two that makes them feel warm and fuzzy.

    I'm just not buying that a turnaround artist is a shadier profession than attorney, the chosen field of most candidates. And it's DEFINITELY not shadier than a career politician.

    January 14, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  11. Joe

    To say Mitt had poor placement in previous races is absurd! He has the popular vote and the most deligates to date. Mitt did turned around the Olympics.

    His company has done work for the company I work for and we did not down size as a result. We focused on growth areas and we invested significantly in technology that has helped our business over the past few years. Perhaps the companies that were listed by Nate above were in need of correcting their work forces due to many bad decisions along the way. If these companies had not made the changes they did, would both the employees and the stock holders have lost....that is the question. Clearly the employees are a large factor, but if both lose, it is even worse for the local economies.

    When the republican party does rally around one candidate, I certainly hope that it is Mitt Romney.

    January 14, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  12. Lynn

    Well, it looks like Romney is giving the voters what they would like to hear, "we're going to take care of you" solution. The auto industry is in the same shape the steel business was in a short while back where bad management and union demands brought the industry to its knees, and bankrupted some like LTV Steel. So, here goes the American auto industry, similarly. Those workers need to listen to John McCain. He sees the situation objectively and had the right answer. Those steel jobs that were lost never came back, but were supplied by Russia, China and other third world countries.

    January 14, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. Scott

    It is foolish to think Romney knows something about economics just because he has run a business. Armand Hammer was a businessman and he was a communist.

    Of the candidates, only Republican Ron Paul is an economics scholar. Only Ron Paul has been talking about the economic situation. Only Ron Paul saw what was going to happen. Only Ron Paul has a viable plan.

    Other candidates have talked about jobs just because they are in Michigan. Paul has talked about the economic factors that take jobs away. Always.

    Ten-term congressman Ron Paul not only has the economics knowledge, he has demonstrated wisdom and caring. He has outlined a transition plan to a sound economy that is good for everybody. He will open the doors for prosperity.

    We should vote for what we want. Freedom, peace and prosperity. We should nominate Ron Paul for President. Vote for Ron Paul in the primary.

    January 14, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  14. Vanessa

    I'm sorry but almost all of you are being very immature, PERIOD. It's politics. Everyone is bound to disagree at some point, but to be pointing the finger at one another, the "are you smarter than a 5th grader" comment and so forth...forget it. Get a life.

    January 14, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. Audrey

    I don't like Stupid being in the title either.. Not fair at all.

    January 14, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  16. Richard from Detroit

    The root cause of our falling economic and industrial power is when you import more than you export.You can go all the way back to the Great Roman Empire. A great nation, a military powerful nation always produces the most and the best goods to be distributed around the world.Thats our problem!We import more than we export.What we are importing is what we, AMERICA should be exporting.Our government and industrial leaders have given away key important American products, that were once the best in the world, to countries like China and Mexico who in reality are not really friendly with us.The Communist Government of China is still thinking of being number 1 supper power while the corrupt Military style dictatorship of Mexico { its been like that since 1821 almost non-stop} is purposely helping illegals { many of them criminals } and drugs across our borders while training manuals for the Mexican Army say that one day they will have California,Texas,Arizona and New Mexico back as part of Mexico that was unjustly stolen from them.Stolen????The point is American citizens,John McCain likes them.McCains motto is whats good for China and Mexico is good for me and the American people.Romney is the best we have for Michigan.McCain would turn Michigan into another USS Kitty Hawk disaster.

    January 14, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  17. Doug Tiderington

    Any one who believes that the U.S. Automakers have a $4,000.00 disadvantage/vehicle due to UAW members benefits is wrong. Yes, John Roberts and Mitt Romney, you lied. The disadvantage/vehicle was $1,500.00 before negotiations 2007. That is what GM has been reporting all along. Mitt and John should get their facts straight before they talk about my state and our hourly workforce. Mitt says that Michigan is a 1 state recession, has gas only gone to $3.00/gal. in Michigan??? I don't think so. Since Bush took office gas has more than doubled...why is that not being reported? Because Repub's will do the same...by continuing to give to the oil barons and taking away from the American people. What a group of liars!!!

    Doug Tiderington
    UAW Member
    Swartz Creek, MI

    January 14, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  18. JT

    Romney is winning the Republican base. If anyone still undecided will listen with an open mind to Mitt speak, it will only take ten minutes to see that he is brilliant. The dems and media know that Mitt would crush anyone in a one on one debate. Thus the dems and media are still talking up Ron Paul, the Huckster and other losers.

    McCain is just another Sr Senator veteran who has no winning ideas like Bob Dole in 1996. Obama/Oprah or the Clintons would have a very big victory against McCain.

    Now that the news is out that Rudy is low on money, Mitt is the only candidate that can go the distance and win in November. If the people of Michigan do not wake up and give Mitt a win that would make the dems and the media very happy indeed. A vote for McCain or the Huckster is a vote for the Democrats and economic & international failure.

    January 14, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  19. Pedro

    What's plaguing Michigan is NOT the federal taxpayer's responsibility,
    The auto companies and UAW rode the gravy train just as long as they could – much like the sub-prime mortgage lenders – and now they have to start walking.
    Why is the lack of response from Michigan's own government now a failure at the Federal level?
    Why have Michigan politicians not stood up for their constituents?
    Why haven't the people of Michigan done something to change the Big 3-centric economy they've all become so dependent on over the last century?
    Perhaps having a venture capitalist for president would help drive the final nails in the state's economic coffin, driving those who can yet afford to relocate out of the state much like the exodus of the early 1980's.
    If Mitt is so insightful, then why didn't he do something sooner for his "home" state?
    Michigan voters can either choose to continue believing empty promises and patronizing cheer leading, or they can choose to finally understand it's time to be weaned from the steel cow's teat.

    January 14, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  20. Mary, Michigan

    Amalea, the "It's the economy stupid" was the trademark slogan that James Carville came up with when Bill Clinton was running for president against George H. W. Bush in 1992. It wasn't a job at Romney. Perhaps you're not old enough to remember the 1992 presidential race when the economy ended up being the number issue.

    January 14, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  21. Renaisauce

    I think people are underestimating Mitt , and I'm glad to see that there is still so much support for him, at least online. All his critics were so pleased that he finished 2nd place in two states. But you know what? It's not like he was creamed. He's only losing by a few points in each race. He might have won New Hampshire if McCain had been campaigning there for eight years. People make such a big deal about how he loses in spite of outspending people, like that's what should have happened. The fact is that it has been a greater uphill battle for him then for any other candidate, and he's handled it wonderfully, with a few mistakes. I think the media has blurred his image, but now that there isn't so much frenzy, people are starting to hear him for who he is. His speech at the Economics Club was the most competent and convincing speech I have heard by any campaigner on either party. I spent the last 6 months confused about who to vote for, but I have firmly decided on Mitt. Forget New Hampshire and Iowa. They were wrong, and I hope that becomes clear to more people nationwide.

    January 14, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    "What's plaguing Michigan is NOT the federal taxpayer's responsibility,
    The auto companies and UAW rode the gravy train just as long as they could – much like the sub-prime mortgage lenders – and now they have to start walking.
    Why is the lack of response from Michigan's own government now a failure at the Federal level?"

    Pedro, the domestic auto industry's problems are a direct result of lack of trade policy in the Bush administration. The US has been setting new record trade deficits almost every year of Bush's second term. Don't fool yourself thinking Michigan's problem is unique to Michigan. Given these trade deficits (which represent American money leaving the country) the rest of the country is not far behind.

    January 14, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  23. diane -providence ri.

    'It's the economy stupid' is not a derogatory term and it came into such popular usage after Carville coined it, that it's just sort of a catch-all phrase and a way of getting someone to think about a point (not necessarily the economy btw)

    January 14, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  24. arfisher, Midlothian, VA

    Michigan, you know the Romneys. Show the country your support so we don't pass up the BEST candidate ever. Please make sure everyone you can influence gets out to vote for Mitt Romney.

    January 14, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  25. Nate

    Jake, I understand the theory. I've also had the experience that the primary goal in any consulting is to put money in the pocket of the consultant, improving their clients business is secondary (of course the consultants I have to deal with are IT consultants). Really can't knock them for it. Everyone has the right to go out and make money the best way they can. My point is simply that it is not necessarily the best experience for political work because the goal is very different. While working for Bain Romney's primary goal was making Bain money, again nothing out and out evil about that. It would be false to think that Romney has vast experience thinking about what is best for the worker though, doing so would have been bad for him professionally. It would also be false to say all companies were better off for Bain's involvement. Some were essentially demolished, some improved their stance at the sacrifice of the workers, and some like Joe's company apparently had positive results. In any case Bain turned out well. Win or lose this election Mitt will turn out well also, he's got the money and can do other things. The question is, if he wins, which company will America most resemble Joe's or Ampad?

    I think a second term as Gov. would have gone farther to proving the needed experience. Mike Huckabee served 2 plus terms as Gov of Arkansas being that he had a partial term due to being promoted from Lt Gov to Gov. I also think he makes some good points about focusing on trade agreements. Free trade without fair trade really hurts the American worker. On a level playing field I believe American workers are better than any in the world, but I don't think we have a level playing field.

    January 14, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
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