- FRED DE SAM LAZARO, NewsHour Correspondent:First Lady Laura Bush’s visit with the Michigan delegates this morning highlighted the state’s importance in November.LAURA BUSH, First Lady of the United States: Michigan could be the Ohio of this time. You know, Michigan could be the state that carries the ticket for us.
- FRED DE SAM LAZARO:For Michigan’s delegates, the economy seems to be a top concern this election. Retired General Motors worker Ron Michals said the state had been severely hit.
- RON MICHALS, Michigan Delegate:There’s an old saying that, when the country catches cold, Michigan catches pneumonia. It’s been heavily relying on industry, and building cars, and everything that goes with it, so there have been slumps like that.
- FRED DE SAM LAZARO:Michals has three sons who have lost jobs, contributing to Michigan’s 8.5 percent unemployment rate, the nation’s highest. Since 2000, the state has lost more than 250,000 manufacturing jobs.Real estate businessman Dennis Buchholtz, a delegate from Warren, said McCain’s plans for keeping taxes low would help spur economic growth.
- DENNIS BUCHHOLTZ, Michigan Delegate:I’ve never been hired by a poor man. You take the money away from a rich man, he’s the only one that’s got the money to build the factory or build the shopping center. And you raise the taxes to the level that we used to have, and the money leaves the country.
- FRED DE SAM LAZARO:Gerald Wall, a delegate from Higgins Lake, argued for more government aid to the auto industry, a view he acknowledged may not be shared by many fellow delegates.
- GERALD WALL, Michigan Delegate:Well, you know, some people talk about the Chrysler bailout, if you were around then. It did work.
- FRED DE SAM LAZARO:That sounds surprising coming from a Republican.
- GERALD WALL:Well, it worked — I understand that. And I am very, very conservative. But the old saying, “Desperate people do desperate things.”
- FRED DE SAM LAZARO:Delegate Carol Curtin of Evart (ph), meanwhile, said she was confident McCain’s overall leadership ability would help Michigan’s struggling economy.
- CAROLYN CURTIN, Michigan Delegate:I can’t say that I’ve actually studied McCain’s economic proposal to know it really well. I just have confidence in him and his demeanor. And I think that he’s the right person to lead our country forward.
- FRED DE SAM LAZARO:More than half the voters in Michigan’s January Republican primary ranked the economy as their most important issue.
- JIM LEHRER:And more on who are the Republicans now from Ray Suarez.
Convening the Delegates
At the Republican convention in St. Paul, GOP delegates have been discussing the economic downturn and their support for Sen. John McCain’s policies. The NewsHour speaks with delegates from Michigan about their viewpoints and with political experts about the delegates’ differences, similarities to voters.