Clinton staffer talks strategy with Michigan officials

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

A top strategist for the campaign of presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday met with elected officials and other party faithfuls to map out a plan to bolster turnout and make Michigan blue for the former first lady.

Marlon Marshall, the director of state campaigns and political engagement for Clinton, said campaign officials see Michigan as an important state and are not deterred by Bernie Sander’s victory here in the Democratic primary in the spring.

Marshall held two meetings — first with union leaders and then with political leaders such as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

To win Michigan, he said, they’ll have to engage voters in areas like Detroit on issues such as raising the minimum wage and economic equality, and explaining what’s at stake with a Trump presidency.

“The purpose of my trip is really to meet with folks who understand how to win campaigns in Michigan,” said Marshall after his sessions. “We want to make sure that we are collaborating with those individuals on the best strategy to win Michigan. These are people who know how to turn out voters, they know how to persuade voters.”

Marshall said he heard a lot about “how do we make sure that we are connecting our campaign to the issues that are actually happening here in Michigan,” like raising wages and jobs.

Marshall has extensive election experience, working on political campaigns including John Kerry’s. He also worked in the White House under President Obama.

Stabenow said Marshall is a “terrific” choice for the position.

“We talked about organizing and the importance of reaching out and getting folks to register and getting folks mobilized to vote,” she said. “It was great to have someone at his level here and have him here early before the national convention, saying that Detroit’s important and Michigan’s important.”

Marshall said the Clinton campaign sees Michigan as a battleground state, and he plans on making more stops here and in other states such as Ohio and Florida. Corralling Sanders’ supporters will be equally important, he said.

Stabenow said that winning Michigan will be critical for Clinton.

“Every road to Hillary Clinton winning runs through Michigan,” she said.

State Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, who also attended the meeting, said the meeting produced “plausible ideas” and that Marshall seemed receptive.

“After all, we’re just simply talking about how to make Michigan a national leader again on the presidential front,” said Johnson, who backed Sanders in the primary. “This was a good start and conversation.”

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, who attended the meeting, said she’s “very encouraged” about having the right strategy to win Michigan for Clinton.

Lawrence said it was important to tap into Bernie’s fans and figure out how “can we make sure that those supporters ... and understand that that agenda is part of Hillary Clinton’s.”

“We have to use that energy that Bernie created here in Michigan and group that with Hillary Clinton now that we’re unified,” she said. “I know that we can win Michigan but we must do it in a very strategic way. Our messaging has to be one that connects.”

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