Detroit — Some Michigan residents, including the state's attorney general, are shocked the health of the Great Lakes were not mentioned during the two-day CNN Democratic debates held in Detroit.

A day before the Democratic presidential debates begin in Detroit, five Democratic governors with states that border the Great Lakes laid out a funding plan for the waterways that they hope all presidential candidates will embrace.

The proposal emphasizes a need for a firmer commitment to reducing nutrient pollution, increased efforts to address PFAS contamination, and better funding for the Soo Locks and other water infrastructure, lake habitat and coastal restoration, and invasive species prevention measures at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted two days ago, saying the "health of our families, our economy and 51 million jobs depend on preserving our Great Lakes."

"This agenda requires bold action," Whitmer said in a Monday statement. "We must partner with the federal government to ensure we're doing everything we can to protect our freshwater, which is why I'm encouraging all 2020 presidential candidates from both parties to sign on to this agenda."

But the health of the Great Lakes never crossed the Fox Theatre stage on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and Michigan residents noticed.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called out CNN and the candidates on Twitter saying, "Hey, remember the time the Dems had 2 days of debates in Michigan and not one candidate brought up the Great Lakes even once?"

She said Michigan is literally called the Great Lakes State.

"This is like if the debates were held in (Arizona) and the Grand Canyon was being filled up with PFAS, invasive species, algae blooms and livestock manure and no one thought to mention it," she tweeted.

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Candidates might have been hesitant to spend too much time on Michigan-focused topics in part because other states have earlier primaries that lay first claim to the limited political capital the candidates are able to spend on stage, said University of Michigan Director of Debate Aaron Kall. 

Biden also has a sort of “home field advantage” in Michigan, given his endorsement by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, which may have discouraged other candidates looking to gain a foothold in Michigan. 

Even so, Kall said, “when you talk about climate and the environment, it does seem certainly in the Democratic primary that there’s no downside” to speaking about the role of the Great Lakes. 

In other cases, candidates might have overstepped their knowledge of Michigan issues, Kall said. He called New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s claims of Russian meddling in Michigan in 2016, where Trump won by a little more than 10,000 votes, “specious.”

“Sometimes, attempts were made and not successful as they could have been,” Kall said. 

Other's agreed no mention of some of the world's freshwater supply was disappointing. 

Julia Pulver tweeted saying it's like when Democrats debated on "oil and gas companies, but never once mentioned #Line5."

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