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Kasich plans to speak at Michigan GOP meeting

Chad Livengood and Jim Lynch
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Ohio Gov. John Kasich plans to speak at the Michigan Republican Party’s leadership conference on Mackinac Island in September, making him the fifth GOP presidential hopeful to commit to attending the biennial gathering of party leaders and activists.

The state GOP announced Kasich’s commitment to attend the Sept. 18-20 conference on Wednesday.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina have committed to speaking at the confab, held every two years in the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

The party expects to get three more candidate commitments so that eight presidential hopefuls speak at the four scheduled meal events, Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said at a Wednesday Detroit News editorial board interview.

There is an outside possibility the conference could add a Sunday meal event to accommodate two more candidates, she said.

“We may add a Sunday, so that could take us to 10,” McDaniel said. “But I don’t foresee that happening right now.”

The party is gearing up for 2,500 Republicans to attend the three-day conference, she said, adding that attendees are attracted by their ability to hear and meet the candidates.

Kasich, who officially launched his campaign for president last week, has placed an early emphasis on stumping for support in Michigan, which has a presidential primary scheduled for March 8 next year.

On Saturday, Kasich made a three-city swing through Michigan, with stops in Southfield, Grand Rapids and Grandville.

It was Kasich’s third visit to Michigan this year — the most of any Republican in the 16-candidate presidential field.

McDaniel said the Republican presidential candidate visits to Michigan are helping to put the state on the radar for 2016. She said several candidates have indicated their election strategy includes targeting Michigan, but wouldn’t divulge who.

Even though a GOP presidential candidate hasn’t won Michigan since 1988, the state can’t be taken for granted, McDaniel said.

“If any candidate is writing Michigan off,” she said, “then I think that would be folly — including the Democrats.”

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