In Mich., GOP Stalwarts Shore Up the Base
By Al Kamen
When the McCain campaign abruptly pulled out of Michigan two weeks ago, some Obama aides and top Democrats in the state's congressional delegation dismissed it as a ploy and argued the GOP would be back in the state full-time, big-time.
And indeed, since that stunning announcement Oct. 2, it's not as if the Republicans have disappeared. The Republican National Committee has been running ads there and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is still fixin' to head over to shore up the base and work those swing voters.
The Michigan GOP was not particularly gracious in reaction to Sen. John McCain. "He's a general who left the battlefield in the middle of the fight," said L. Brooks Patterson, an Oakland County executive and GOP leader. "I'm disappointed in his behavior; he's thrown a lot of good Republican candidates under the bus." The resentment has continued even though recent polls confirm the wisdom of McCain's move.
The great fear, of course, is that McCain's retreat -- and incumbent Sen. Carl Levin's (D) ridiculously huge lead in the Senate campaign against Michigan state representative Jack Hoogendyk -- could produce a GOP turnout more like that of an off-year election, while Democrats come out in high numbers. And there are concerns about drops in fundraising. All this could mean massive losses in down-ballot races at the state and local level and a loss to Democrats of maybe a couple congressional seats.
But not to worry. Big-name Republicans have stepped into the breach, coming to the rescue, as one recent state party e-mail put it, to "fire up the troops and raise money for our party." Native son Mitt Romney was there recently for a two-day tour doing events for the state organization, various Republican candidates and for Rep. Tim Walberg (R) , who's in a hotly contested race.
Romney even came by the state headquarters in Lansing after an event for Walberg, the e-mail said, and "thanked everyone for their efforts, encouraged folks to never give up and left us with a surprise check for $50,000 towards our statewide efforts!" There was chatter that Minnesota governor and former vice-presidential wannabe Tim Pawlenty might come by to help, as well, the party said.
President Bush is headed there tomorrow for a meeting in Grand Rapids with business leaders and then off to nearby Ada for a closed door fundraiser to help GOP congressional candidates.
And don't forget that Mike Huckabee will be heading to Michigan next Wednesday for a luncheon fundraiser for Hoogendyk in Farmington Hills -- $500 for a photo op. He's also going to be at the other end of the state that day for a speech at the Benton Harbor Economic Club.
Sound like some folks are already prepping for the 2012 campaign?
Posted at 4:18 PM ET on Oct 14, 2008
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