Yang, Ryan, Klobuchar mention Michigan in 1st Dem presidential debates

    Michigan map via Canva

    Michigan may be front and center in the presidential race with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and 14 Democratic hopefuls stumping here already, but we only got a few brief mentions in the first Democratic debates this week.

    Three candidates, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and businessman Andrew Yang — who have all campaigned in the Mitten — name-dropped the state in debates.

    Susan J. Demas: The road to the White House runs through Michigan (so far)

    In the first debate on Wednesday night, Klobuchar emphasized her electability in her closing remarks.

    “I’m someone that can win and beat Donald Trump,” she said. “I have won every place, every race, and every time. I have won in the reddest of districts, ones that Donald Trump won by over 20 points. I can win in states like Wisconsin and Iowa and in Michigan.”

    The Minnesota U.S. senator made similar points in an exclusive interview with the Advance in May.

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    “In my state, I visit all 87 counties every year,” Klobuchar said. “And I spend a lot of time in rural Minnesota, and that’s why … one year [2012], I think I won every county but two. I won 42 of the counties that Donald Trump won [in 2018]. And every single election, I’ve won every congressional district, including the reddest ones, including former [ultra-conservative] U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman’s. So I am a fierce believer in going where it’s not just comfortable, but where it’s uncomfortable.”

    U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan in Grand Rapids, May 4, 2019 | NIck Manes

    In that same debate on Wednesday, Ryan was asked about the war in Afghanistan. He said the United States has to be “completely engaged” in foreign affairs and took a swipe at Trump for U.S. State Department vacancies.

    The congressman added that “these flare-ups distract us from the real problems in the country. If we’re getting drones shot down for $130 million, because the president is distracted, that’s $130 million that we could be spending in places like Youngstown, Ohio; or Flint, Mich.; or rebuilding — or rebuilding …”

    Moderator Rachel Maddow then interrupted him and threw a question to U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

    During Thursday’s debate, Yang was asked about his signature issue, Universal Basic Income (UBI), in which every American adult would be given $1,000 a month.

    Andrew Yang speaking in Detroit | Derek Robertson

    It’s something he stressed at a Detroit event this spring. Yang gave a similar speech on the Miami debate stage, saying that “Donald Trump is our president today that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And we are about to do the same thing to millions of retail jobs, call center jobs, fast food jobs, truck-driving jobs and other jobs through the economy.”

    The next round of Democratic debates is slated for July 30 and 31 in Detroit, so you can expect much more Michigan love there.

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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