Barack Obama endorses Gretchen Whitmer and seeks to increase turnout in Detroit

Barack Obama endorses Gretchen Whitmer and seeks to increase turnout in Detroit
  • Obama Speaks Out for Gretchen Whitmer and Other Democrats in Detroit
  • Polls show a close race with Republican challenger Tudor Dixon
  • Low turnout in Detroit court hurt Whitmer’s re-election chances

DETROIT (AP) — Inflation, gas prices and violent crime are tough problems, but Republicans aren’t serious about solving them, former President Barack Obama argued Saturday at a rally to boost support for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. and other Michigan Democrats.

Instead, most Republicans are “obsessed” with “owning the freedoms” or “getting Donald Trump’s approval,” Obama told a crowd of about 3,500 at Detroit Renaissance High School, suggesting the GOP is just “interested in getting angry and then finding someone to blame.”

But “I can tell you what Gretchen Whitmer is obsessed with,” Obama continued. “She focuses on the fundamentals: good jobs, lower costs, better schools, and fixing the damn roads.”


With the November 8 election just days away, and polls suggest Whitmer is locked in a close battle With Republican challenger Tudor Dixon, Obama made it clear that he was in Michigan’s largest city for a singular purpose: “I’m here to ask you to vote.”

Detroit, home to Michigan’s largest concentration of black voters, remains a major Democratic stronghold. But decades of population loss and low voter turnout rates have diminished its electoral impact.

Whitmer lost Detroit in the 2018 primary, but local voters delivered on her in the general election with a 41 percent turnout, up from 31 percent in 2014 but far from Obama’s 53 percent in 2008.

Whitmer carried Detroit by 173,590 votes en route to her 406,659-vote state victory over Bill Schuette, the former attorney general.

Detroit Secretary Janice Winfrey forecast a 35 percent voter turnout this year, which would be 6 percentage points lower than in 2018 and hurt Whitmer’s re-election chances. As of last week, absentee ballot returns in Michigan are up 79 percent compared to 2018, the last election before voters opted to expand absentee voting for no reason, but only 49 percent in Detroit.

“I understand why people are anxious” and may be “concerned about the course of the country,” Obama told Detroit voters, acknowledging the pocket-draining effect of inflation, which he attributed to global factors such as the war between Russia and Ukraine and issues related to the supply chain. to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m here to tell you that going offline is not an option,” Obama said. “We don’t have time to get depressed. The only way to make this economy fairer is if we all work for it. The only way to save our democracy is if we work together for it, all of us.”

Whitmer shared the stage with Obama after leaving earlier with “Gretch Did,” a new ode by Detroit rapper Gmac Cash released Saturday with a accompanying music video paid for by Put Michigan First, a big spending group run by the Democratic Governors Association.

In her own speech, Whitmer touted the state’s new spending on public education and road repair as evidence that she is fighting for Michigan families. whitmer is borrow money to fund state highway repairs after the Legislature rejected his 2019 proposal to raise fuel taxes.

The first-term Democrat also highlighted her effort to protect abortion rights by obtaining an injunction barring prosecutors from enforcing a 1931 ban after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“If you don’t believe that the right to choose is an economic issue, you don’t have a uterus,” Whitmer said to loud applause.

“The stakes are too high to take anything for granted, anyone for granted, any community for granted, or any hope for granted,” the governor continued. “So please do something every day between now and this election.”

Republicans called Obama’s visit a sign Whitmer is “desperate” after seeing her double-digit polling lead over Dixon shrink to 3.3 percentage points, according to the latest Real Clear Politics average.

“After a failed third term of the Obama-Biden agenda, Barack Obama is not the golden ticket Michigan Democrats think he is,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Preya Samsundar said in a statement.

“All Michigan families will see is more crime, more economic uncertainty and more financial pain if they choose a rubber stamp like Gretchen Whitmer.”

Dixon was throwing her own weekend help for the final stretch of the campaign: Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is now an independent, was expected to join the GOP gubernatorial hopeful at seven events. Separated on Saturday and Sunday.

The Democratic rally in Detroit featured a series of speeches to boost the vote from officials, including US Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, Representatives Brenda Lawrence and Rashida Tlaib, and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein and candidate to the superior court Kyra Harris. Bolden of Southfield, who would be the first black woman to sit on the state’s highest court.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel said Democrats “saved democracy” in 2020 by fighting attempts to overturn the state’s presidential election, which Joe Biden won by 154,188 votes over Trump. .

“Democracy is on the ballot,” Benson said, calling Republican hopeful Kristina Karamo and Republican attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno “election deniers” who are part of a national strategy to undermine the election and “make sure that we don’t have high voter turnout again. ”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan used his own rally speech almost exclusively to criticize Karamo, the Republican nominee for Secretary of State who this week filed a lawsuit which aims to invalidate Detroit’s absentee ballots due to the city’s signature verification process.

Karamo wants to “cancel votes from the city of Detroit,” but not from other parts of the state where Republicans are likely to do better, Duggan told the crowd. “Let’s make Kristina Karamo really mad. Get out, vote early, bring her friends.”

Erica Muhammad, a local voter who previously taught in Detroit schools, said she attended Saturday’s rally because she misses the diversity Obama brought to the White House.

Muhammad told Bridge Michigan that he doesn’t blame Democrats for the slow economy and supports Whitmer for his strong support of public education.

She called abortion the most important issue for her this fall, saying she fears a potential state ban under Republican leadership will force women back into dangerous positions where they may have to consider “the perch” rather than the care. professional medical.

Muhammad criticized Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tudor Dixon for opposing legal abortion even for women who become pregnant as a result of rape.

“You’re walking down the street and something happens to you, and then you have no choice? That doesn’t make sense,” Muhammad said.

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