Michigan is in play in the waning days of the election campaign, and whether Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or Republican rival Donald Trump will win the Great Lakes State dominated the Sunday morning talk shows.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Michigan an “absolute toss-up” in the presidential race, suggesting “it’s all over” if Trump can win a state like Michigan that Democrats have carried since 1992.
“When you look at a place like Michigan, where jobs have gone to Mexico and China and people are out of work and people want things to get better, I think Donald Trump is offering that vision for the state of Michigan,” Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“If I would have told you a year ago that we have a candidate that can win Florida, Ohio and Michigan, we would say that’s a candidate that’s going to win.”
Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she remains confident that Clinton will win Michigan, noting the state’s demographics include relatively large populations of African-American, Hispanic, Arab-American and millennial voters.
“What has not been covered is that Michigan has early absentee voting, and in that early absentee vote Democrats have ‘banked’ 50,000 absentee votes, meaning they are over what the Republicans have,” Granholm said, also speaking on “State of the Union,” apparently citing internal Democratic calculations.
“The number of absentee votes is well over what it was in 2012 for Democrats. So we’re feeling good about that bank.”
Clinton, Trump, GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence and President Barack Obama will all be campaigning in Michigan on Monday — another sign of how tight the race appears to be.
Clinton has a 5-percentage-point edge over Trump, 47.3 to 42.3 percent, according to a RealClearPolitics average of recent polls. That’s close enough to make Democrats nervous.
“Beds are damp,” Van Jones, a former Obama adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“There is a crack in the blue wall, and it has to do with trade,” Jones added. “This is the ghost of Bernie Sanders. There is a discontent among some Democratic voters over trade, and some blame Hillary Clinton. So, you’ve got to go back there and shore it up.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement, blaming it for America’s loss of manufacturing jobs and promising to renegotiate it. Clinton also has vaguely promised to make improvements in NAFTA, signed into law by husband Bill Clinton in 1993.
Recent public opinion polls showing a tightening race in Michigan are consistent with a trend the Trump campaign has seen “for quite a while now internally,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday a call with reporters.
“We also like what we hear on the ground in Michigan, in terms of the resonance of the messaging,” Conway said, noting that both Trump and Pence already visited the state last week.
“And we trust the savviness and the brilliance of the Clinton campaign. If they thought Michigan was in the bag, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama would not be returning there today or tomorrow.”
Sitting next to Granholm, RNC chief strategist and communications director Sean Spicer, responded: “I wouldn’t want to put my money in that bank.”
“Governor, since 1988, a Republican hasn’t carried Michigan,” said Spicer.
“The idea that you’re deploying the president of the United States 48 hours from an election to Michigan, says that that blue wall has cracked big time.”
Clinton campaign chair John Podesta said Clinton initially focused on states with early voting, but is now seeking to close the deal in places like Michigan where voters cast most ballots on Election Day.
“We feel like we’ve got a lead in Michigan. We want to hold onto it, and we feel we can do that,” Podesta said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
Conway and deputy campaign manager David Bossie said Trump is “expanding the map” while Clinton is playing “follow the leader” in the final days of the election.
The campaign is eyeing five or six potential paths Trump could navigate to pick up the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, Conway and Bossie told reporters.
Trump is set to visit Michigan on Sunday afternoon for a rally in Sterling Heights. He and Pence will be back in the state late Monday for an 11 p.m. event at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids — their last official campaign stop before the polls open on Tuesday morning.
“We’re excited with what we’re seeing in Michigan,” Conway said. “It’s a late add to our schedule. Mr. Trump will return to New York that night, get up the next morning, go vote and get right back on the trail for his final close.”