Snyder economic tour to kick off in Nevada

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder is kicking off his national tour touting Michigan's economic turnaround later this week with an appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition's spring meeting in Nevada.

Snyder will be traveling to Las Vegas late Thursday for informal meetings with members of the Jewish political organization and reporters attending the gathering, spokesman Jarrod Agen said.

The governor's appearance at the event marks the start of his "Making Government Accountable: The Michigan Story" campaign, a privately funded national tour that fellow Republicans think is designed to boost Snyder's credentials for making a run for the White House in 2016.

"Not long ago, Michigan was at rock bottom, actually ranking No. 51 in state unemployment rates — including Washington, D.C. — with our state's jobless rate peaking at 14.9 percent," Agen said Wednesday. "Since that time, Michigan has had the largest drop in unemployment in the nation."

But Snyder is not among the list of GOP heavyweights speaking at the conference because the agenda was "set far in advance," Agen said.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, former President George W. Bush, House Speaker John Boehner and other big name Republicans are scheduled to speak to members of the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Venetian Resort and Hotel.

Nevada has tentatively scheduled its Republican presidential caucuses for Feb. 13 next year, making it one of the earliest states in the race for the GOP nomination and attracting visits this year from potential candidates, along with Iowa and New Hampshire.

Snyder has not definitively ruled out mounting what experts say would be a long-shot bid for the Republican nomination in a crowded field of governors, senators and other presidential aspirants.

The governor wanted to start a national tour this winter touting Michigan's economic resurgence, but was unable to travel in recent months after rupturing a tendon in his right leg and being hospitalized for a blood clot.

"I do look forward to marketing Michigan. But I've been open about wanting to do that for the last year or so. We need to tell the Michigan story to the rest of the country because quite often it's normal for perceptions to lag five or 10 years," Snyder told reporters Tuesday at a conference of automotive industry engineers in Detroit.

"And don't we want people to know how great things are going in the city and the opportunities we have? Let's get out and tell people."

After attending the Jewish coalition's meeting Friday in Las Vegas, Snyder is headed to Washington, D.C., for Saturday night's annual White House Correspondents Dinner, where he is a guest of Bloomberg News, which is owned by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Snyder supporters recently formed a tax-exempt political nonprofit "Making Government Accountable" to raise undisclosed donations to fund his national travel talking about Michigan's improving economy since he took office.

The Detroit News reported Friday that former Michigan Republican Party chairman Bobby Schostak is raising money for the fund.

On Monday, Snyder will be in Santa Monica, California, to speak on a panel at the Milken Institute about his efforts to shepherd Detroit through a historical bankruptcy in 2013 and 2014.

Snyder will be joined by former Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and Ken Buckfire, one of Orr's financial consultants in the bankruptcy.

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Staff Writer Michael Wayland contributed.