Michigan Democrats hope to build on Obama visit with new ads
Lansing — Former President Barack Obama is long gone after campaigning Friday for Michigan Democrats, but candidates he’s backed are hoping to keep his message alive with new advertisements before Tuesday's election.
Six days after rallying with her in Detroit, Obama is featured in a new 60-second radio ad for gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer, whose campaign says the spot is set to air in the state's largest media markets as part of an effort to boost voter turnout.
And Haley Stevens, running for U.S. House in the 11th Congressional District, is using footage of Obama’s visit — and a prominent shout-out — in a new online ad.
Republicans were the first to use footage from Obama’s rally at Cass Tech High School. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super political action committee endorsed by House Republican leadership, this week launched a $1 million ad campaign that highlights a flub by 8th Congressional District challenger Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, who vowed to put “party before country” before correcting herself to say “country before party.”
Her campaign has called the ad misleading because it does not include her correction. Slotkin is challenging U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, whose campaign has also circulated a truncated clip of Slotkin's gaffe.
In his new radio ad for Whitmer, Obama praises the former Senate minority leader for her role in increasing Michigan’s minimum wage and expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, calling it a “huge” move that provided health care to nearly 680,000 lower-income residents.
“In this election, the health of millions is on the ballot,” he tells listeners, urging them to make a plan to vote. “The character of our country is on the ballot.”
Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette is a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, but he has repeatedly said the Healthy Michigan expanded Medicaid plan is “the law of the land” and is “not going anywhere.”
“Sen. Whitmer brought him into Detroit to prop up her campaign because she lost there" during the primary "despite having the political machine on her side but that can’t hide the fact her tax hike plan puts every Michigan paycheck at risk," Schuette campaign spokesman John Sellek said.
"All of Bill Schuette’s ads all featured people from real life right here in Michigan, not a parade of political celebrities, including the parents of a survivor of Larry Nassar, a survivor of human trafficking that Bill helped regain control of her life, and a Detroit police officer who testified to Bill’s strength as a leader in keeping people safe."
The new 30-second digital ad from Stevens, who is competing with Republican Lena Epstein to replace retiring GOP Rep. Dave Trott, features footage of Obama praising the Rochester Hills Democrat for serving on a presidential auto task force that helped General Motors and Chrysler avoid collapse.
“And Haley Stevens, by the way, she was a critical part of my team that helped the auto industry come roaring back,” said Obama, who continued and expanded a government bailout started under GOP President George Bush.
The Stevens campaign is airing the ad online as she fights criticism from Epstein, a Bloomfield Township businesswoman who has questioned Stevens' description of her role on the auto task force that formed in 2009 and was led by financier Steven Rattner.
“Haley Stevens was caught inflating her resume by claiming to be chief of staff when Treasury (Department) records show she was just an assistant, but Lena Epstein was actually creating jobs in the auto industry in the private sector running one of Michigan’s largest women owned businesses,” said John Yob, a consultant for Epstein’s campaign.
Two auto task force leaders have said Stevens accurately described her title and duties.
The National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday released what it says is its first-ever nationwide get-out-the-vote ad, and it’s running on radio stations in Detroit, as well as 14 other markets as part of a $500,000 total buy.
“Tuesday’s election has historic consequences. Will we elect a Republican to represent us in Congress? Or will we allow a Democrat to take office and take us backwards?” the narrator says.
NRCC spokeswoman Maddie Anderson said, "The NRCC has proven it knows how to mobilize and energize Republican voters. It’s critical that they turn out and prevent Nancy Pelosi from taking power."
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who served with Obama, is expected to campaign with Slotkin, Whitmer and other Michigan Democrats on Thursday evening in Lansing. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is scheduled to rally with Republicans Thursday night in Sterling Heights.
Staff Writer Melissa Nann Burke contributed