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Clinton; Obama campaigning for - but not in - Michigan

by: Hazen Pingree

Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 08:10:46 AM EST

You won't see either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in Michigan, but from all appearances they are now locked in a spirited battle for our delegates.

What? I thought the Michigan "primary" happened a month ago?

Well, consider this...

On Monday, Hillary stumped at a General Motors plant in White Marsh, Maryland. Flanked by Michigan DNC member, GM lobbyist (and Hillary donor) Debbie Dingell, Hillary declared that we're going to have the "strongest and best automotive sector in the world" - ripped the South Korea free trade deal and promised $22 billion in federal grants and bonds to help automakers retool to build "green" vehicles.

Yesterday, Barack stumped at a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin. In his speech he ripped NAFTA and touted his 10-year, $150 billion plan to promote "green" manufacturing.

Interestingly, Debbie Dingell was there too - and delivered a kind quote to the Detroit News:
"It was significant," said Michigan Democratic activist and GM Foundation head Debbie Dingell, who attended Wednesday's speech and toured the plant with Obama. "When he talks about these issues, he demonstrates that he gets it."
Today, if media reports are to be believed, Hillary will be going to - you guessed it - another GM plant. This time in Lordstown, Ohio. 

Gee, I wonder if Ford's and Chrysler are getting envious?

What's going on here?

(More below the fold...)
Hazen Pingree :: Clinton; Obama campaigning for - but not in - Michigan
Well, trying to determine exactly what's going on beneath the surface as political alligators thrash each other is seldom easy. But here's my bet...

Three campaign events at GM plants in one week is significant. Of course, one could say it's just the candidates trying to piggyback on news this week that GM has posted it's biggest annual loss ever and is offering buyouts to all its UAW employees. No doubt that's part of the mix. But I have to believe it's not a coincidence that the candidates keep visiting plants owned by the employer of the almighty Debbie Dingell.

And of course the fact that the candidates are spending so much time at auto plants has to be taken as a sign that they're vying for the (at least) tacit support of the UAW, which just happens to be THE predominant organizational force behind the Michigan Democratic Party.

If my hypothesis is true, the Dingells and the UAW are simply being realists. They have to see the margins that Barack keeps racking up. They also can't avoid seeing projections that show Hillary will have to get at least 63-percent in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania (not likely) in order to win in pledged delegates.

There is a very real possibility that Barack Obama might just win this thing. The Dingells and the UAW understand this - and no doubt they're starting to think about what their future will look like if Barack becomes the nominee without their help. It's time for them to start making nice.

So what will this mean for Michigan?

Earlier this week, Michigan Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer did a radio interview with Jack Lessenberry. It offers a some clues:
MB: There may be other options for getting the delegation seated, short of having to do a caucus.

JL: What kind of other options?

MB: Well, there may be some arrangements whereby people are seated but there may be some restrictions or conditions put on how they vote. We're exploring a lot of different options.
A new caucus seems unlikely. But judging from Mark's comments, there are some serious negotiations underway to seat Michigan's delegates. I have to guess any solution that comes out of this will involve allocating a significant number of the "uncommitted" delegates and superdelegates to Barack. But the players want to hear the candidates talk about their issues first. Hence the litany of auto plant visits. If it continues, who knows? Maybe one of these days - perhaps en route to a GM plant in Texas or Ohio - one of the candidates may actually set foot in our state! Hope springs eternal!
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Obama speech to Detroit Economics Club?

When Obama is visiting the auto plants, does he repeat his comments to the Detroit Economics club regarding gas milage?

By the way- I agree with Obama on the issue. However why pick that major scab in a campaign. This will be hard to overcome in Michigan

He talked about green energy investment big-time at the speech.

I know that General Motors received some bad news yesterday, and I know how hard your Governor has fought to keep jobs in this plant. But I also know how much progress you've made - how many hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles you're churning out. And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years. The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it's where it will thrive. I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America; right here in Wisconsin; and that's the future I'll fight for as your President.

My energy plan will invest $150 billion over ten years to establish a green energy sector that will create up to 5 million new jobs over the next two decades - jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. We'll also provide funding to help manufacturers convert to green technology and help workers learn the skills they need for these jobs."

[ Parent ]
Obama the Brave leaves the statement that he "went to Detroit and told the automakers to raise MPG" has been left out of his speeches the past few days (doesn't want to get booed by UWA members).

Personally, I agree with the UAW on this.  My Hybrid Toyota Camry actually gets about 32 mpg, so claims by some non-Michigan Democrats that we can raise limits to 35 or 45 right away or anytime soon is just unrealistic.

Steve Pestka for Congress

[ Parent ]
Barack is courageous and bold! My hybrid 2003 Prius gets 44 mpg
The point is this: The window sticker on this car new claimed 60 in the city and 52 on the highway. It has never even been close to that performance. It has consistently averaged 44mpg.

Contrary to what we are told, it gets better mileage on the highway. Six or seven hour trips will yield a high of maybe 52mpg.

If we had the ABSOLUTE TRUTH put on those EPA stickers, it will be along time to get to 35mpg.

My point then is that to get to the 35mpg bar we must act NOW! The fake mileage stickers on cars now are irrelevant. They are nonsense. The  mileage we get from our cars is lousier than Detroit will have you know. Plus, they do those tests in laboratory treamill conditions. NO wind, no drag. They are nonsense.

Barack had the cahonas to tell Detroit what it needs to HEAR. Burying our heads in the sand is idiotic. Now that it appears that Barack could win, Debbie and the other super clowns, er, delegates from Michigan are getting cozy.

This stupid State of Michigan needs to hear what Barack said. It is time to get the head out of the rear end on mileage.

Vote Obama. Save this country before it is too late. Hillary is yesterday and yesterday is gone. I want this planet saved and I want an intelligent, articulate new voice as my Commander in Chief.

[ Parent ]
Phil, Have you seen this?
The Superdelegate Transparency Project Portal

Chris Bowers did a diary on it at dk.  

In any event, I've been trying to fill in data on the MI page; and I can bumble around in it, but I don't feel particularly competent.  Will you take a look and see if you can finish it?    

[ Parent ]
it looks right to me
Unfortunately, as Stormy mentioned, we don't have any superdelegates from West of Lansing.

It sure seems like someone like say Sue Levy (chair of Kent CDP) or Scott Bowen (former AG candidate, GR lawyer, former GR City Commissioner, former Kent CDP chair) or Gary McInerney (general GR Democratic powerbrooker) could be added to MDP CC and then DNC.

Steve Pestka for Congress

[ Parent ]
Can you register and finish it?
There are more delegates, but I don't know their classifcation.  I also don't know how to tally the votes.  Is the total in the SOS for uncommittee the total # or do the votes for dodd, etc. get tallied in somehow?  

I just called the MDP, DNC and Gov.s office and pitched a bitch about this primary.  MDP said it was the candidates who removed their names. I said yes them, and those who refused to campaign and those who refused to count us, and those who refused to care.  

If they don't fix this, I am going to vote for McCain.  They don't want my vote, they won't get it.  

[ Parent ]
Fuel efficiency
Nope, Barack didn't repeat his comments regarding fuel economy.

Here's my spin answer: the difference between the DEC and Janesville speeches is that the DEC was primarily composed of auto executives and other bigwigs who have the power to DO something on fuel economy. Line workers - like those in Janesville - don't have any authority over those changes and arguably have been hurt the most by the Big 3's foot-dragging on fuel efficiency.

OK, now here's the politics...

Last fall, when Obama addresses the DEC the political landscape was very different. It was blatantly clear that organizationally Michigan was going to be either Edwards or Hillary territory. Obama was already on record with his position on trading help for automakers with health care for increases in fuel economy - he included it in "The Audacity of Hope" (though since the car companies went to VRBAs the that situation has changed significantly) Now here's one thing we often forget: outside of Michigan, there is no love lost for our car companies on the fuel economy issue - particularly in a Dem primary. Outside of our borders, car companies aren't much higher in public esteem than say - oil companies - are here.

So...if you're Obama and there seems no way in hell Michigan will ever go for you, why not make lemonade out of lemons and use the situation to your benefit out of the state. This he did, and produced a few TV ads about it, which apparently served him well enough to keep him alive and kicking to this point.

But now Obama wants to get some of our delegates or at least neutralize their power. And it looks as though the UAW is ready to deal. So, yeah, while I haven't seen anything to suggest he's changed his position on fuel economy (which is what some candidates would have done in his situation), he's not going out of his way to talk about it in front of UAW workers either.

Yup, it's politics. And yes, it does conflict with his message of change, hope, a new kind of politics, etc. Insert your guffaw here. But at some point one does have to be practical.

"HAZEN S. PINGREE...He was the first to warn the people of the great danger threatened by powerful private corporations, and the first to awake to the great inequalities in taxation and to initiate steps for reforms. THE IDOL OF THE PEOPLE"

[ Parent ]
I rate this a 4. Very interesting

You make some very good points.
Your points are all well-founded, well done Governor.  While I do not think for a moment that we'll see either candidate in MI before this thing is decided, I do see a silver lining here.  

Whoever ends up on the ticket, we will see many visits by them to MI once things are settled.  I'd even go so far as to say that we outside of the Detroit/Lansing/Grand Rapids part of the state will be included on the itinerary.  

Not only would this help shore up support for the Presidential ticket (hopefully winning over the coveted Indies and the disaffected, moderate R's), it would give a much needed boost to our candidates up and down the ticket.  


To prepare for when your life flashes before your eyes, make sure it's fun to watch.

good insider analysis
a well balanced and interesting post

Are you a fly on the wall?
Great job.  I don't know how you know or surmise, but I like the song you are singing.  

Pretty shrewd insights . . .
. . . for a guy who's been dead 107 years now.

[ Parent ]
Its because he is transparent and gets
to float in and out of places without being seen.  Glad he's on our side.  

[ Parent ]
Calm Down a Bit and Look at the Bigger Picture
Like reading Hazen Pingree's stuff but sometimes I wonder whether we are missing the Bigger Picture. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a supporter of Hillary Clinton. I think it is great that Debbie Dingell is helping Obama and Hillary get into these GM plants so that the issue of the shrinking industrial base in this country, in the mid-west, and in Michigan is getting the kind of attention it deserves. That is why if we could have had a Michigan primary earlier the issue could have been joined earlier.  The story of the tragedy of historic neglect of that manufacturing base where thousands of middle class jobs have been lost, thousands of families devestated, jobs shipped to Mexico and China could have been higlighted to a nation that seems to forget quickly the hollowing out of our industrial base. We seem to be moving--especially under Bush--to a low wage service economy where even many of those low paying jobs are no longer safe.

I wish we had a Debbie Dingell at Ford and Chrysler and small parts and supplier plants around the country helping our Presidential candidates get into those places and talk to the workers and the managements learning about and talking about this truly American tragedy, where a caring government could intervene to protect our jobs, our manufacturing base and ultimately our national security.

Debbie is being consistent with what her argument was about why Michigan should have an earlier primary by what she is doing now. She should keep doing this---regardless of some who wish to spend their time questioning motives. In fact, any Democratic leader or office holder who has the opportunity to educate either of our potential Presidential nominees, should be emphasizing that a national industrial and manufacturing policy is a top priority. In the end thousands of Michigan and US families' lives depend on a future without Bush/McCain.

Probably far more to do with the UAW (which tended to like Edwards, but couldn't get 60% to join him since Ill UAW is powerful and it looked like HRC was going to win) than with Debbie.  Now, one of them will be the nominee (and the other will now likely be the VP), so it's time to make up with industrial unions (which are also powerful in Ohio).

Steve Pestka for Congress

Campaign Contributions
Ooops! In the interest of accuracy, you identify Debbie Dingell as a Hillary contributor. My friends who look at who has contributed to who, tell me she is also a contributor to Barak Obama. This little fact seems to sustain her credibility that she is nuetral at this point unless someone is trapped into an old idea of believing that spouses can not have different views. I know campaign contributing is hard to sometimes track and it does not probably really matter regarding my earlier point that she should keep helping the Presidential candidates get into the GM plants to talk to workers and all of us should keep educating these candidates about the serious jeopardy of the industrial base of America and why our economic issues in Michigan, the mid-west and beyond need to take center stage as the "one state recession" caused by Bush' negelect of the industrial heartland becomes a national one. Just thought I would mention this.  

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