Cruz: Detroit destroyed by ‘left-wing policies’

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz go at it during the Detroit GOP Debate Thursday at the Fox Theatre.

Detroit’s comeback and its well-documented struggles with poor schools and high crime rates came up in the spirited Republican debate Thursday evening moderated by Fox News.

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On a question about Detroit’s manufacturing struggles and job losses, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz lambasted the “left-wing” destruction that drove people out of the once-mighty city that brought cars to the country and built the Arsenal of Democracy that helped win World War II.

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“Detroit is a great city with a magnificent legacy that has been utterly decimated by 60 years of failed left-wing policy,” Cruz said about the domination of Democratic politicians to loud applause that echoed throughout the Fox Theatre.

He spoke about how Detroit thrived but “then for 50 years left-wing Democrats have pursued destructive tax policies, weak crime policies” that drove residents out.

“This city now has just 700,000 citizens. There are vacant homes, one after the other after the other. Crime has been rampant,” he said. “And it is an outrage.”

Cruz said lifting burdensome tax policies and regulations would help bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States.

On a question from Fox panelist Megyn Kelly about the struggles of the Detroit public school system teetering on bankruptcy, Ohio Gov. John Kasich spoke about his record in cities like Cleveland and predicted that Detroit, too, would “rise” with the right involvement, policies and collaboration.

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Kasich erred when he said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan controls the school system — the state still has oversight through an emergency manager — and he talked about how the “African-American Democrat mayor” of Cleveland, “the union and business leaders came to see me and said: Would you help us to pass legislation to really create a CEO environment so that we can take control of the schools?”

“Cleveland’s coming back, the Cleveland schools are coming back because of a major overhaul,” Kasich said. “It’s the same thing that has to happen in all of our urban schools.”

Kasich said he would take 104 federal programs, bundle them up and send them to the states “because fixing schools rests at the state and the local level, particularly at the school board level.”

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The former congressman also talked about bolstering mentoring and vocational education in urban school systems. He also touted his support of letting parents use taxpayer dollars to choose either private or public schools, arguing “you need school choice, both vouchers and charter schools.”

“We as adults have to fight in our neighborhoods, in our communities for our children’s education,” Kasich said. “Put the politics aside and everyone in this room could play a role in lifting their schools and lifting the students that are in those schools because too much politics gets in the middle of it. The people of this town are going to rise.”

After the debate, Trump told reporters he would reverse decades of decline in Detroit’s manufacturing job base without specifying how.

“You watch,” Trump told a reporter. “We’re taking them back from China, we’re taking them back from Mexico. We’re going to bring jobs back to Detroit.”

lfleming@detroitnews.com