Barack Obama

Jake Neher / MPRN

Michigan’s 16 delegates to the Electoral College have officially cast their votes for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

The President netted 54 percent of the popular vote in Michigan during last month’s general election.       

Monday’s gathering of Electoral College delegates in the state Senate chambers also included a resolution condemning state lawmakers’ actions in recent weeks.

State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer presided over the meeting.

“To cast all 16 votes for President Barack Obama, we know that Michigan is a state that believes in opportunity and embraces a vision for our state and for our nation that looks forward. Not one that focuses on an extreme ideological agenda,” Whitmer said.

The resolution criticized the Republican-controlled state legislature for swiftly passing a number of controversial bills in the final weeks of its session.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Right to work legislation expected to be sent to Snyder

"The state House is expected to send legislation to Governor Rick Snyder today that would make Michigan the 24th so-called “right-to-work” state. Democrats are preparing a last-ditch effort to try and stall progress on the bills. Meanwhile, police officers from across the state are in Lansing preparing for protests as lawmakers get ready to vote on so-called “right-to-work” bills," the Michigan Public Radio Network reports.

President Obama talks fiscal cliff and right to work in Michigan

"President Obama talked about the controversy in Lansing, Michigan as well as the one in Washington, D.C. during his visit to a Redford Township engine plant yesterday. He told a crowd of hundreds of union workers that the consequences of going over the fiscal cliff are huge, both for the economy and the middle class. President Obama says he will insist that Americans making more than $250-thousand a year pay more taxes. He also rebuked state Republicans for pushing so-called "right to work" bills that would let people opt out of paying union dues.  He says such laws bring down middle class wages," Tracy Samilton reports.

State Treasurer initiates review of Detroit's finances

"Detroit’s march toward a state-appointed emergency financial manager appeared to speed up yesterday. The city’s financial advisory board voted to support the state treasurer’s move to start the process. It can last up to 30 days. Officials told the advisory board Detroit is burning through cash at an alarming speed. They project that without help, the city will end the fiscal year more than 100-million dollars in the hole," Sarah Cwiek reports.

screen grab / WDIV

In a speech Monday in front of employees from Redford Township’s Detroit Diesel engine factory, President Barack Obama weighed in on Michigan’s impending right-to-work legislation.

About halfway through the President’s address, intended to promote his plan for averting the fiscal cliff, Obama took up the issue of right-to-work, the Detroit Free Press Reports:

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

State House and Senate likely to vote on "right to work" Tuesday

"It’s likely that the state House and Senate will take up their final votes on so-called “right to work” legislation tomorrow. But, first, protests and legal actions are expected today and tomorrow. Republican majorities in the Michigan House and Senate have already voted once to adopt a “right-to-work” law. Democrats and labor unions plan more protests over the bills that were placed on a very fast track last week. If enacted, Michigan would become the 24th state to adopt a “right-to-work” law," Rick Pluta reports.

President Obama to speak about "fiscal cliff" at suburban Detroit auto plant today

"President Obama will visit a Redford Township factory today - as part of his effort to galvanize support for his plan to avert the fiscal cliff.  The President's visit also comes at a high stakes time for the United Auto Workers, since state Republicans could vote to make Michigan a so-called "right to work" state this week," Tracy Samilton reports.

Detroit could get an emergency financial manager

"A committee overseeing Detroit's finances could recommend an emergency financial manager for the state's largest city. The committee meets today to begin a 30-to-40 day review. Detroit mayor, Dave Bing will ask City Council tomorrow to approve audits, including an audit of disability fraud. And he wants the council to approve another 400 to 500 job cuts, along with furloughs, as the city faces the prospect of running out of cash," Tracy Samilton reports.

YouTube

President Obama will be making his first trip to Michigan in nearly eight months.

The last time he was in Michigan, Mr. Obama stopped at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn for a campaign event.

This time around he's expected to deliver a major speech on the economy and middle class families in Detroit, according to David Shepardson of the Detroit News.

The address will come just three weeks before tax cuts are set to expire on nearly all Americans and $1.2 trillion in mandatory domestic and defense spending cuts over 10 years are to take effect — unless Congress acts.

"I believe America only thrives when we have a strong and growing middle class. And I believe we're at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead. That's what I believe," Obama said. "I believe both parties can — and will — work together in the coming weeks to get that done. We know how that gets done. We're going to have to raise a little more revenue. We've got to cut out spending we don't need."

Shepardson points out that without a tax deal, taxes will increase for a majority of Americans, and unemployment benefits will expire. 

About 93,000 people in Michigan will lose unemployment benefits by the end of this month unless Congress acts.

No details of the visit have been publicly announced yet. Those details are expected in the coming days from the White House.

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The election is over, so now we're just going through the motions.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified the election results today.

MPRN's Rick Pluta reports that Michigan's electors will formally cast  their votes at the state Capitol on December 17th.

President Obama bested Republican hopeful Gov. Mitt Romney by 449,313 votes.

As for the write-ins, Gary Johnson ruled the day.

Official vote totals:

  • Barack Obama (Dem) 2,564,569
  • Mitt Romney (Rep) 2,115,256
  • Jill Stein (Green) 21,897
  • Virgil Goode Jr. (US Taxpayers) 16,119
  • Ross Anderson (Natural Law) 5,147
  • Gary Johnson (write-in) 7,774
  • Stewart Alexander (write-in) 89
  • Jerry White (write-in) 68
  • Tom Hoefling (write-in) 42

I'm sure there must have been other write-ins. I wonder if there is a threshold that must be met for the write-ins to be reported.

Let me know if YOU know!

Update... like... ten minutes later....

Well, guess who knows? Rick Pluta, of course!

Pluta points out that state election officials didn't want to waste time reporting on write-in candidates who were there on a lark. Like when someone writes in their brother-in-law, for instance.

So there's this rule:

An individual who wishes to seek nomination or election to a federal, state, county, city, township, village or school office with write-in votes is required to file a “Declaration of Intent” with the appropriate election official by 4:00 p.m. on the second Friday preceding the election.

So Tom from accounting would have to put in a little effort to see his official vote count.

The incumbent president was a Democrat, a controversial figure whose legitimacy was doubted by millions, right from the start. His Republican challenger was a Michigan native, but one who left the state after high school, and moved east.

He found fame and fortune, and was eventually elected governor of his adopted state, then won the right to take on the sitting president. His followers, including the Wall Street Journal and the Detroit News, were convinced his election was necessary to save the nation from government spending run amok.

The election is now only four days away, and I’ve been thinking about what will happen afterward.

Earlier this week, I received a nasty phone call from a woman named Bonnie.

She believes President Obama is evil, and a traitor.

She thinks the media are covering up the truth behind the killing of the American ambassador to Libya.

She was also upset that we are covering up the “fact,” as she put it, that President Obama’s family were all Communists.

I told her, in not very polite terms, that was idiotic.

She began screaming and I hung up.

wikimedia commons

Republicans are hoping to put Michigan's Electoral College votes back in play with $3.7 million worth of TV ad buys in the state as the campaign heads into its final week.

As the Detroit Free Press reports, the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity announced an ad buy of $1.5 million Tuesday, while the Super PAC Restore Our Future has purchased $2.2 million of air time.

With just 25 days to go before the Presidential election, and a week since the first Presidential debate, a few pollsters and at least one analyst are putting Michigan into swing-state territory even though, as we’ve noted before, President Obama’s generally been given the edge in most polls in the state.

This week, Michigan enjoyed a round of visits from top flight presidential candidate surrogates starting with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Monday. And, just today, we saw Anne Romney stumping for her husband, Mitt Romney, in the couple’s native-state.

So, the question remains, after five presidential election cycles with Michigan falling into the Democratic column, is Michigan an actual battleground state in 2012?

The right-leaning website Real Clear Politics says so. A Detroit News/WDIV poll shows the Obama lead shrinking since last week’s debate and a Gravis Marketing poll also puts the race for Michigan’s 16 electoral votes much closer than it has been. President Obama still leads, according to these surveys, but the momentum is moving toward Mitt Romney.

And, as we’ve said before, Michigan seems like it should be attainable for the GOP. It’s not like a Republican can’t get elected here statewide. Just ask Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette or Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

But, aside from the Real Clear Politics call, no one else is really putting Michigan into that list of eight or nine states that are the focus of the fiercest competition (states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada and Iowa). And, we’re certainly not seeing a big re-allocation of resources by the campaigns that would suggest things are changing in the mitten state.

One question that gets bandied about is: if Michigan isn’t a battleground state, then why are high profile campaign surrogates making regular stops here? Well, there are lots of reasons why candidates and their surrogates visit a state – fundraising, a quick visit to make sure a safe state stays that way. But President Obama hasn’t been here since April; Romney since August. In fact, this was the first time in decades that neither presidential candidate themselves visited Michigan during the entire month of September. In 2004, George W. Bush made John Kerry work for Michigan, which maybe meant he wasn’t able to spend as much time and money in places like Ohio and Florida – true swing states with lots of electoral votes.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

A poll released yesterday by EPIC-MRA of Lansing shows the presidential race tightening in Michigan.

Aided by a strong debate performance, Mitt Romney has reduced President Barack Obama’s ten point lead to just three points—within the margin of error for the poll reports the Detroit Free Press.

From the Free Press:

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama square off in their first debate.
Commission on Presidential Debates

The first Presidential debate of 2012 is in the history books.

Radio, Television and Newspapers are filled today with opinions, verdicts and spins.

Who came out on top?

Will the undecided voters be moved one way or another?

Did the 90-minute debate contain anything likely to strike a deep chord with voters here in Michigan?

Keep the blood pressure down, play some Bingo tonight.
WNYC

Our friends at WNYC have come up with a way to keep score at home tonight as you watch the first presidential debate.

There's little doubt by now you've heard, because it sure seems like everybody’s heard, Mitt Romney’s now-famous – infamous – 47 percent comment. It set the political grapevine ablaze this week with discussion and speculation that this is the gaffe that’s sunk the Romney campaign with 46 days to go until Election Day. Much like John McCain’s “Michigan moment” in 2008 when he pulled his campaign out of the state and everyone just kind of declared, "game over."

But there are still 46 days to go and Romney and many of his fellow Republicans are saying: Whoa, not so fast...  It ain't over til it's over. “A lot of folks would just as soon have this election be done now… The fact is elections are held on one day, November sixth, and not before," State Attorney General Bill Schuette, Romney's Michigan campaign manager, said this week.  It's a variation on the classic, "the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day.”

Redirecting the Message

Political campaigns are really about three things: one is identifying your voters, another is making sure your voters get out on election day and the third - which is especially critical to getting out your voters as well as persuading the ones who are undecided - is “messaging.”  Because in politics, “messaging” is a verb. So, for the Romney campaign, the question is, how to pull off that pivot, how to change the subject. And the message of the moment is, "Hey, everybody makes mistakes."

“Well, I think Barak Obama has made a lot of mistakes, too. When he said the private sector is doing just fine. That’s nonsense. When a small businessperson is successful, he said that person didn’t build it. We know that’s not true," Schuette explained, trying to create an equivalency between the two candidates and the two campaigns. Those are things the president said that – taken out of context, certainly – but still were missteps that Republicans have now turned against him. Republicans have also reached back to 1998 when President Obama was still a state senator in Illinois to something he said, that he believes in wealth redistribution, ignoring that he also said he believes in free markets.

The Super PAC Restore Our Future and other groups have spent about $13 million for ads since February.
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Update 5:13 p.m.

A pro-Mitt Romney group will start running ads attacking President Obama’s jobs record in Michigan beginning tomorrow.

Recent polls show the president leading his Republican challenger in Michigan. And the Romney campaign has focused its own TV ad spending elsewhere.

Charlie Spies is co-founder of the Restore Our Future "Super PAC." Super PACS can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and individuals.

Spies says polls suggest Romney is still competitive in Michigan:

“Right now it shows Michigan with a slight Obama lead, but certainly within the margin that it’s competitive. And we’re very optimistic about the upper Midwest…both Wisconsin and Michigan.”

Spies says recent campaign stops in by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife show the Obama campaign is still worried about losing Michigan.

10:48 a.m.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody spoke with Restore Our Future reps this morning.

They confirmed that they will start running a new ad in Michigan markets starting tomorrow.

It's a one million dollar ad buy.

They told Carmody they expect to do a similar ad buy in Michigan next week.

10:09 a.m.

Conservative 'Super PACs' supporting Mitt Romney's presidential run recently pulled their ads out of Michigan.

It was an indication the state wasn't polling well for the Republican candidate.

But Sarah Wheaton over at the NY Times blog "The Caucus" writes some Super PAC money might be coming back.

Despite losing traction in the polls after the nominating conventions, Wheaton says Romney has one clear advantage over President Obama - "outside groups with much more money to spend supporting his candidacy and tactically placing their bets in states where they believe he has a chance to win."

Right now, Michigan appears to be a long shot bet for these groups.

Restore Our Future’s $720,000 investment in Michigan is particularly remarkable. Mr. Romney’s campaign and his other allies seem to have all but given up on the state, even though the candidate grew up there and his father, George Romney, was once governor. The Romney campaign itself, which is running state-specific spots in those states it ostensibly considers to be the most in play, left Michigan off that list.

...But the ability of super PACs to raise and spend freely gives them flexibility to invest in some long shots. And it could also provoke the Obama campaign to spend some precious ad dollars on a state it considers relatively safe.

It remains to be seen how the polls will play out in Michigan after a video of Romney was released of the candidate making some potentially politically damaging comments while talking at a private fundraiser earlier this year. The Romney camp quickly put together a press conference to respond to the video.

NOAA

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign did not show up at a conference in Cleveland to discuss the Great Lakes.

Organizers of the Great Lakes Restoration Conference say both presidential campaigns were sent invitations at the same time.

Former E.P.A. director Carol Browner spoke on behalf of President Obama at the conference yesterday.

She touted the president’s investment of one billion dollars for cleaning up and restoring the lakes.

When asked if the president would support permanently separating Lake Michigan from the Mississippi River to keep Asian carp out, she said it’s being studied.

"That process is underway and I have the utmost confidence that the president will take the results of that process very, very seriously," said Browner.

A spokeswoman for the Romney campaign said they couldn’t fit the event into his schedule.

She criticized the Obama administration for not acting more quickly to stop Asian carp.

Official White House portrait

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - President Barack Obama's re-election campaign says the wife of Vice President Joe Biden will speak at events in three Michigan cities on Saturday.

The campaign says Jill Biden will appear in Battle Creek, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. It says details on her appearances will be announced later.

The stops come during a planned tour during which the vice president's wife will appear Friday in Minneapolis and Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham talks with Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Michigan Radio

Tonight brings the emotional high point of the Democratic National Convention - the speech from President Barack Obama.

All week long, Michigan Radio's Lester Graham has been in North Carolina. He's been covering the convention and the Michigan delegation.

Governor Snyder talked about Republican hopes of turning Michigan to a red state. But the  Democrats in Charlotte will likely have something to say about that.

Graham tells us the delegates in Charlotte are optimistic, but they know they have some work to do to get people to the polls in November.

MichigaMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder at a Univ. of Michigan basketball game.n Gov. Snyder gets cagey on subject of weight loss.
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Cyndy spoke with Michigan Governor Snyder for Thursday’s premiere show.

The Governor is just back from the Republican National Convention and told Cyndy that he thinks Michigan could go for Republican Mitt Romney in November.

“There are good chances and I told that to their [the Romney] campaign,” Snyder said.

He noted the major sweep for Republicans – both statewide and nationally – in 2010 as an example of the GOP making headways in the state.

Snyder also says he doesn’t plan to say negative things about President Obama during the presidential campaign.

“Public service is a major challenge on anyone,” Snyder said. “We need to partner with the federal government and local government and we want to work in a positive, constructive way. I don’t believe in doing negative activities,and I stick to the positive side of things.”

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

Buttons for sale at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan delegates are meeting and debating and planning at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

But the delegates are also buying stuff.

One of the things you find at these political conventions are souvenirs. 

I pulled Michelle Evans Pejokovich off the cash register for a moment to tell us what they're hawking.

"We have t-shirts, iPhone covers, car magnets, bracelets, bangles, cuff links, t-shirts, tote bags, runway for change," said Pejokovich.

Some of the other items for sale:

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan delegates are at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this week. Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham is covering the event, and gave us his impressions about this year’s convention.

Graham said there’s some concern about whether there is enough enthusiasm to get the vote out for President Obama this year, as opposed to four years ago.

“Michigan Democrats seem to be convinced that if they can get the vote out, they’ll be doing fine, that Michigan will be a blue state again, and that Barack Obama will be re-elected as President,” he said.

Kate Wells

Vice President Joe Biden took the spotlight at Detroit’s Labor Day parade. It's one more sign that the auto bailout is shaping up as a central theme of the Obama-Biden campaign.

Last week Republican nominee Mitt Romney asked Americans if they were better off today than four years ago. Now comes part of the Democrats’ response: you sure are if you’re an auto worker.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Romney campaign says it plans to actively campaign In Michigan “until the end”.  But there is one major campaign component that Romney officials haven’t committed to yet.  Four years ago, the John McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan a month before the presidential election. State Republican leaders blamed that decision for hurting GOP turnout in Michigan in 2008.  Katie Gage says that won’t happen this year.  She’s a deputy director for the Romney campaign. Gage says the Romney campaign will be in Michigan “until the end”, with phone banks, local campaign offices and mailings.

The Republican National Convention is over. The Democratic National Convention is about to begin. And unless something unexpected happens next week, my guess is that the world will little note nor long remember what anybody did at either gathering.

It's a "swing-state" edition of It's Just Politics this week. The big political question in the mitten-state currently seems to be "Is Michigan a true battleground - a swing state - in this year's presidential race?" You certainly would not be blamed for thinking so considering all of the campaign love that Michigan got this week.

Vice President Joe Biden was in Detroit on Wednesday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was in West Michigan yesterday campaigning on behalf of fellow Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and, just today, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan visited Commerce Township.

Are we a (politically) fickle state?

This level of attention would seem to suggest that Michigan is a battleground state alongside  those perpetual swingers: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Colorado. There are certainly reasons to believe why this could be the case, even though Michigan has gone for the Democratic nominee in the last five presidential cycles. But, if you look back even further, the five cycles before that, Michigan voted for the Republican presidential candidate every time.

It would appear that we are a fickle state. Michigan may be blue, but it elects Republicans in statewide races all the time: Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson – just to name a few. And, even while Democrat Jennifer Granholn was governor, Attorney General Mike Cox and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land were both Republicans.

Interestingly enough, Michigan’s record tilts more heavily toward sending Democrats to Washington D.C.. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow are, of course, Democrats. And, in this election cycle, Republican Senate nominee Pete Hoekstra hopes to alter that trend, like Spence Abraham did –albeit for just one term – in 1994.

What do the polls say?

In this year's race, President Obama’s generally been given the edge in most polls in the state, even though Mitt Romney was born in Michigan and his father was governor here. But, just because he can claim "native-son" status, the Romney name does not always equal ballot magic. Romney's brother, Scott Romney, lost his reelection bid to the Michigan State University and his mother Lenore Romney failed in her U.S. Senate bid back in 1970. A former sister in law, Ronna, who ran with the Romney name also lost a Senate race.

A poll was released this week by Foster McCollum White and Associates for the Fox TV station in Detroit that gave Romney a four point lead over President Obama; and a slight lead for Pete Hoesktra over Senator Debbie Stabenow.

But, then, another poll was released this week that put President Obama and Senator Stabenow in the lead. So, it begs the question - which poll is right? The reality is there’s no objective measure for regular folks to use to judge the credibility of a poll. The only reality to compare it to is… other polls.

Is Michigan a swinging state?

So, aside from the polls - the question remains: are we a swing state or not? It would seem if the presidential campaigns didn’t think Michigan was relevant to them in November then they wouldn't be spending so much time here. But, one can argue that there are a whole lot of other reasons why candidates visit a place. Certainly, persuading voters is a big one. Keeping the base energized is another - especially in a year like this when it seems like most people have made up their minds who they want, or who they don’t want in the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden warns that if Mitt Romney is elected President, the country will return to the “failed policies” that caused a near-economic collapse in 2008.

Biden rallied supporters at Detroit’s Renaissance High School Wednesday. It was a stop on a brief campaign swing through Michigan that also included a fundraiser in West Bloomfield.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is refocusing his tax plan to strengthen the middle class. Romney was in Colorado Thursday to outline his plan, which included points that have been previously released.

In Michigan and other states the campaign lined up several small business owners to share their support for Romney.

Tyce Holst owns Taylor Rental and Party Plus, a rental store in Holland that employs 10 full time workers. Holst says the recession forced him to lay off two employees.

Student debt by year
Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Students at Michigan's five largest universities sought more loans to pay for college, according to a Detroit Free Press database

These students will join recent graduates around the country whose outstanding private and federal education debts have topped $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to the data, as of 2010, students in Michigan have the 11th highest average debt of any state.

user cohdra / MorgueFile.com

If you get an email from President Obama, saying he wants to pay your electric bill, it's best to delete it.

A countrywide email and text message scam in which the sender offers to pay the recipient's utility bills through a new federal program in exchange for sensitive identity information has hit metro Detroit.

And some are taking the bait, reports The Detroit News' Charles E. Ramirez:

The President and the Chief Justice: An ironic history

Jul 11, 2012

Of all of the hyper-partisan episodes in the long political career of President Barack Obama, there is one that strikes me as being historically ironic.

In 2005, the then-junior Senator from Illinois voted against the confirmation of U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. as Chief Justice of United States Supreme Court. It turned out to be Justice Roberts whose actions on that court saved President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation.

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