Etch-A-Sketch was big news in NW Ohio yesterday, because Ohio Art is based here, but there’s a substantive problem now brewing for Mitt Romney in Ohio and Michigan, and it just highlights how dead-on the Etch-A-Sketch comparison really is:
Michigan politics is rarely subtle. But the current dustup over a proposed new bridge to Canada has been particularly nasty. Billionaire trucking company owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun, who beat out Warren Buffett in bidding for the 81-year-old Ambassador Bridge more than three decades ago, is now doing his best to undercut Republican Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s efforts to build a publicly owned competitor to what is the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing.
Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group founded by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch that has embraced some Tea Party causes, bankrolled a public-relations campaign against the proposed public bridge, including mass mailings to state voters. Matty Moroun, who has a personal net worth of $1.7 billion, according to Forbes, also hired Dick Morris, the onetime campaign strategist turned Fox News Network (NWS) pundit, as an adviser. Moroun “has co-opted some of the Tea Party movement, which sends shivers up Republicans’ backbones,” says Tom Shields, spokesman for a coalition of business, labor, and political leaders that supports Snyder’s plan.
Americans For Prosperity and the Koch Brothers oppose the new bridge because it’s publicly funded:
Americans For Prosperity-Michigan today announced a statewide campaign to stop Michigan from plunging $620 million further into debt. The Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC), a taxpayer funded Detroit bridge which traffic studies show is unwarranted, is expected to be introduced in the State Senate within a few weeks.
Mitt Romney (of course) won’t take a stand:
In the lead-up to last month’s presidential primary in Michigan, Republican front-runner Mitt Romney refused to take a stand on the proposed $2 billion span, which is supported by Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, the Canadian government, and a host of labor and industry officials in both countries.
On Thursday, the Obama Administration released a statement supporting a proposed second span connecting Detroit and Windsor.
“The New International Trade Crossing is one of the Department of Transportation’s top border priorities,” said the U.S. Department of Transportation in a statement. “The Detroit-Windsor corridor is the largest commercial crossing in North America and carries 24 percent of trade between the U.S. and Canada. We are working with Michigan and the Canadian government to support construction of a new bridge that will boost trade and relieve congestion on the existing crossing,” the statement said.
The GOP Michigan governor supports the bridge. The Obama Administration supports the bridge, and they’re backing that up with 2 billion in matching highway funds. Canada supports the bridge. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers, and Dick Morris oppose… well, Dick Morris is just picking up a paycheck, so I guess we don’t know where the Fox News personality bloc is on this.
Where is Mitt Romney on the bridge? No one knows. He won’t say:
A day after GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney refused to take a stand on the proposed new bridge between Canada and Detroit, the Romney campaign issued a statement that provided some answers, but not a definitive position.
“Governor Romney believes that it is up to the people of Michigan to decide if another bridge is in the best interest of their state. Governor Romney has confidence that Governor Snyder and the Michigan legislature will come to an agreement on this issue,” read the statement by Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams.
A bridge between the US and Canada and the economy in at least 4 US states and, more broadly, two countries is now a state issue. That’s an absolutely ridiculous answer. It’s an embarrassing answer. Funny, Mitt Romney had no problem supporting Governor Kasich’s union busting law in Ohio, and that really WAS a state issue. Romney was strongly in favor of union busting within the state of Ohio. He had an opinion on the teachers, firefighters and police officers in a state he’s never lived in, but he’s passing on a bridge between the US and Canada in his “home state” of Michigan?
Roy Norton, the consul general of Canada in Detroit, in an email to The Blade Thursday, said 8 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada. “Since one-quarter of all U.S. trade with Canada crosses the Ambassador Bridge, therefore 2 million U.S. jobs depend on the Ambassador Bridge,” he wrote. He said the number of Canadian jobs reliant on the Ambassador Bridge “is comparable,” so that would be another 2 million jobs. Mr. Norton, whose region includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky, has urged transportation interests throughout the region to support a new river crossing. “Exports from Ohio to Canada increased [in 2010] by more than 20 percent over 2009,” Mr. Norton wrote. “As it has for many years, Ohio continues to enjoy a significant trade surplus with Canada. Modern border infrastructure linking the Midwest to Canada is essential to moving existing and future trade.” Last year, he also said that building a second Detroit River crossing is Canada’s top national infrastructure priority because of the corridor’s importance to U.S.-Canada trade.
Romney’s afraid to walk out on the bridge because powerful lobbyists within the base of the GOP oppose the project. How in the world is this person going to be as President? What’s the plan, here? He’s elected President and then becomes a completely different person, becomes a person who makes decisions and takes on risk? When is this complete transformation of his essential character and temperament scheduled to occur?