Rick Snyder, right, greets state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and U.S. Rep. Candice Miller on Tuesday. (Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News)
Sterling Heights -- Self-described "tough nerd" Rick Snyder, fresh from winning the nod to be the Republican candidate for governor, said he'll stick to his message of job creation and reviving the state economy in the runup to the general election.
"I'm a proven job creator," he said Tuesday before a Macomb County GOP fundraising dinner. "It's about getting Michigan working again."
Snyder headlined a lineup of GOP stars, including U.S. presidential hopeful and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, at the party's annual Lincoln Dinner in Shelby Township. Snyder faces Democratic nominee Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, in November.
Pawlenty said he was backing Snyder because Michigan is "pivotal" in terms of rallying Republicans nationwide.
Jared Maynard, chairman of the Macomb County Republican Party, said Pawlenty's support "highlights Michigan's governor's race as a national issue."
Asked if he was concerned about losing the endorsement of Right to Life of Michigan over his stance in favor of stem cell research, Snyder said: "I am a pro-life person, but the real issue is jobs. Social issues are important, but our priority is getting jobs in the state. If we can do that, crime will go down, abortions will go down and social problems will go down."
In his first major public talk since clinching the gubernatorial bid, Snyder laid out for a crowd of about 570 people his plans for reinventing Michigan. He said those are based on three "pillars": creating a globally diverse economy; protecting natural resources and restoring Michigan's central cities; and building a job-creating environment.
Snyder also said that he would eliminate the state business tax and reform the regulatory system. "It's happy talk -- it's a cheerleading session," he said. "It should be a report card."
Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, a candidate for state attorney general, said Snyder will have to work hard to unify the Republican base.
"It's not an easy process because you have to take all these teams and make sure they believe they are a part of this process as well," he said.
Audrey Victor, a certified public accountant who attended the dinner, said she believed that Republicans will be behind Snyder whether they voted for him in the primary or not.
"I voted for (Pete) Hoekstra, but I'm 100 percent behind Snyder," she said.