‘Big rig’ tour bashing GOP starts with honk

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — A liberal nonprofit group and Democrats on Thursday kicked off a “big rig” tour of eight Michigan cities in the coming week to denounce Republicans and the policies they have supported.

“As you can see behind us, we have the big rig that is outfitted as a symbol of Republicans rigging the economy for their corporate donors, while stacking the deck against working Michiganders, seniors, students and veterans,” Progress Michigan Director Lonnie Scott said Thursday morning as the truck honked into a cold fall drizzle.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon and AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber also spoke at the first stop in the tour organized by Progress Michigan.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump vaulted to the party’s nomination this year in part by decrying the “rigged” economy and political system.

The “MI Big Rig” and its accompanying Democrats will tour eight Michigan cities to show that “people are fed up with Republicans in this state having the wrong priorities,” Scott said.

The truck is adorned with unflattering pictures of prominent GOP leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof of West Olive, House Speaker Kevin Cotter of Mount Pleasant and Gov. Rick Snyder.

Scott said Republicans have controlled the state government for the past six years. And at every stop, the public will be able to learn more about Republican policies that critics say have hurt the average Michigan resident.

The activists even blamed Republican policies for the Flint water crisis, although state career bureaucrats – not Republican party officials or elected leaders – have been deemed responsible for the failure to provide corrosion control chemicals to Flint’s water supply after it switched to the Flint River in April 2014.

The switch, made by Flint emergency managers appointed by Snyder’s administration, and the lack of corrosion control chemicals allowed lead to leach into the city’s water supply as corrosive river water coursed through the pipes.

The truck is scheduled to make stops in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Mount Pleasant, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Oakland County and Macomb County.

“No amount of attempted showmanship can change the facts: Under Republican leadership, Michigan is on the comeback,” said Sarah Anderson, spokeswoman for the Michigan Republican Party. “This is an attempt to distract from the failed policies of Michigan Democrats who drove our state into the ditch and have nothing but rhetoric to offer Michiganders.”

mgerstein@detroitnews.com