Oct 31, 2014 10:54 AM

Obama urges Snyder's defeat despite common ground

The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) When President Barack Obama campaigns in Detroit on Saturday night, he will be urging the defeat of a Republican governor with whom he has more common ground than most and who, unlike other GOP leaders, doesn't condemn the unpopular president or his policies.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's approach is part necessity Detroit's bankruptcy, for instance, prompted a series of meetings with high-ranking White House officials to plot ways to pull the city from a fiscal pit. It's also mostly personality the governor locked in a tight race with Democrat Mark Schauer says he avoids partisan rhetoric in an attempt to remain "relentlessly positive."

It's different in some other states that Obama visited this week to try to boost Democrats challenging Republican incumbents in Tuesday's midterm elections.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he was glad about the president's visit, saying voters see him as a "failure on any number of issues out there." Maine Gov. Paul LePage once said he wouldn't be afraid to tell Obama to "go to hell."

Snyder's criticism directed toward Obama is typically a broader critique of "Washington" and its culture of political infighting.

Snyder is among nine GOP governors to expand Medicaid for low-income people a key component of Obama's health care law despite adamant opposition from conservative lawmakers. He was involved in talks with the Obama administration and Detroit officials to secure $25 million from the federal government to build a streetcar line through the heart of the city.

The more moderate governor also has embraced immigration reform and earlier this year asked the U.S. government to designate tens of thousands of work visas for Detroit to attract highly skilled, entrepreneurial immigrants to the city.

He has expressed frustration, though, with Obama's administration for not yet committing to pay for a $250 million U.S. customs plaza as part of a planned multibillion-dollar, government-owned bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Canada plans to cover almost the entire cost of the bridge in exchange for future toll revenues.

Snyder suggested in a recent campaign town hall that Obama officials have offended Canada by not pledging funds.

Asked about his relationship with Obama and the administration, Snyder told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it had been "constructive."

"Hopefully he'll see all the good things going on in Detroit, all the good things we've done," he said of the president's planned rally for Schauer and U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters at Wayne State University.

Snyder's campaign released a new TV ad Thursday highlighting efforts to address "50 years of neglect" in Detroit, where a state-appointed emergency manager filed for the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history with Snyder's OK.

While Snyder declined to criticize Obama, state Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak wasn't shy. He called the president's visit a liability for Schauer and Peters and accused the trio of lying when they said people could keep their health insurance plans that later were canceled under the federal health care law.

"It's a Hail Mary at the 11th hour that suggests they know they're behind," Schostak said.

But Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson said it's an honor to have Obama in a state he won by 9 percentage points in 2012, saying Obama will focus attention on the importance of Democrats voting in the non-presidential election. Schauer, who was elected to the U.S. House when Obama won his first term and lost re-election two years later, said he and the president agree on the federal rescue of General Motors and Chrysler, raising the federal minimum wage and fighting for equal pay for women.

Obama is unlikely to refer directly to Snyder, instead lumping him together with the Republican Party.

"I think he's going to fire up the troops. If voters turn out, we're going to win," Schauer said.


Follow David Eggert on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00


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