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How can Democrats beat President Donald Trump in Macomb County? Nominate a presidential challenger who is not afraid to criticize his own party like Donald Trump, said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

“He was not the typical candidate because he wasn’t a politician,” Hackel said Friday on WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record” with host Tim Skubick. “The Democrats are going to have to find that same thing.”

While Democrats already have a large and growing field of presidential contenders for 2020, Hackel said he does not think any of the announced candidates could beat Trump in Macomb County next fall.

His comments came after Trump’s re-election campaign rally last week in Grand Rapids. The moderate Democrat recalled a similar scene at Trump’s Freedom Hill rally in the run-up to the 2016 election.

“I have never seen such an intense amount of interest in a candidate for president as I’d seen that particular evening,” Hackel said. “That place was packed with people, and that interest, believe it or not, is still there for Donald Trump.”

Trump won Macomb County by an 11-percentage point margin over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 as he became the first Republican presidential candidate to carry Michigan since 1988.

Two years later, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won the county over Republican nominee Bill Schuette by 3.5 points en route to her statewide victory, making clear it remains a bellwether region.

Hackel said Democratic presidential candidates who go “far to the left” could have trouble in Macomb County. He acknowledged he voted for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, over Clinton in the 2016 primary.

Other Macomb voters did the same, Hackel said, not necessarily because they believed in “his extreme liberal policies,” but because they did not like Clinton.

Snyder joins Kasich group

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is joining the national advisory committee for a new group spearheaded by former Ohio Gov. John Kasich to “promote reasonable and proven solutions to America’s challenges.”

Kasich is a prominent Republican critic of President Donald Trump who has not ruled out running against him again in the 2020 primary. His new “Two Paths America” group, along with recently announced plans for a new book, make clear Kasich intends to remain part of the public debate.

Snyder, the Ann Arbor Republican who did not endorse Trump in 2016, is among 12 “prominent thought leaders” joining the Two Paths America advisory committee to “promote center-right solutions to some of the major issues facing our nation,” the group said Wednesday.

Others joining Kasich on the committee include Republicans such as former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, former Weekly Standard editor-at-large Bill Kristol and former U.S. Reps. Tom Davis of Virginia, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Bob Inglis of South Carolina.

“America is hungry for some conservative ideas and these respected thought leaders are determined to help find some new and innovative ideas,” said former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, who sits on the Two Paths America board.

Snyder, Levin head leader group

Snyder also will join Meijer executive Hendrik G. Meijer and former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, as co-chairs of a state advisory committee to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

The group of more than 80 Michigan leaders will “highlight the importance of American engagement overseas” as well as the state’s focus on diplomacy and development, according to a statement announcing the committee.

The committee includes Democratic former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Republican Grand Rapids businessman Peter Secchia, former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser, former Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer, Democratic MSU Trustee Dianne Byrum, and several former House and Senate leaders.

“By investing in programs that fight poverty, promote stability, and wipe out diseases we’re not just saving lives but advancing America’s security and economic interests. That makes Michigan safer and stronger,” Snyder said in a statement.

The group will hold its first event in Michigan April 18 with a lunch to discuss Michigan’s potential for global leadership with Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph.

“If we want to create a better future for our children and communities, we must continue to be engaged overseas,” Levin said.

 

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