McCain and Palin in Michigan (AP Photo)
The news is all over the place about John McCain shifting his campaign resources away from the state of Michigan, essentially ceding the state to Obama. This is also a decision, according to CNN, on which his VP running mate, Sarah Palin, disagrees.
The fact is, John McCain mentally pulled out of Michigan in January of 2008 during the primary, when he told Michigan voters that the lost jobs in Michigan "aren't coming back." He lost Michigan to Mitt Romney in the primaries, seeing that voters probably weren’t buoyed by McCain’s defeatist tone. So it should be no shock now to McCain that he can’t win Michigan. After all, he basically told the people in that state in January that there was nothing he could do to help them to recover from the job loss.
This could come back to bite him in other states being hit hard by job loss. One state comes to mind: my own state of Ohio, which has been hit very hard with job loss in the last 8 years. McCain made an appearance in Youngstown in April, where the message was the same as it was in Michigan - jobs are gone. An excerpt from a New York Times article titled McCain: These Jobs are Gone, Gone, Gone says it very plainly:
Is NAFTA a four-letter word?
No, Senator John McCain told an Ohio voter on Tuesday, he didn’t think so.
“I am prone on occasion to make a mistake,’’ the presumptive Republican nominee told Jack O’Connell, a retired labor leader, at a town hall-style meeting at Youngstown State University. Still, he said, “last time I checked, NAFTA has five letters, not four.’’
Mr. McCain was responding to a question from Mr. O’Connell, who called NAFTA, or the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, “a bad four letters,’’ then asked Mr. McCain what he thought of the deal. Mr. McCain’s answer made the crowd laugh, even if his more substantive response –- the overall result of NAFTA has been “a benefit to our country’’ — was politically unpalatable to many Ohio voters who blame the trade deal for lost American jobs.
Nonetheless, Mr. McCain kept up his free-trade-is-good message in this economically depressed city, a contrast to his Democratic competitors, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who both have called for renegotiating NAFTA. Mr. McCain also repeated his message that lost manufacturing jobs would not return, a position that polls show may have helped him lose the Michigan Republican primary in January to Mitt Romney.
But Mr. McCain, who compared the struggles of Youngstown to his own back-from-the-dead campaign, insisted that in the end workers would be better off through retraining and education programs in technology he has promised them as president.
“I can’t tell you that these jobs are ever going to come back to this magnificent part of the country,’’ Mr. McCain told another questioner, Sam Carbon, a student at Youngstown, who asked Mr. McCain about how he planned to save American jobs. “But I will commit to giving these workers a second chance. They need it, they deserve it. I know that’s small comfort to you, but I can’t look you in the eye and tell you those steel mills are coming back.’’
Now, he’s giving voters in Michigan the “I don’t care about you” attitude by pulling out of the state because he can’t win there. He also doesn't have the campaign money to even try. I have a feeling that Ohio voters who live in what is now considered a swing state leaning toward Obama won’t take kindly to McCain’s flip and thoughtless comments about job loss in Michigan or Ohio.
The old saying goes – “Never say never.” While McCain thinks that some states have permanently lost jobs and that they will never return, I don’t see that as a hard fact. Just looking in the city of Cleveland, the city is trying very hard to recover lost manufacturing jobs from the steel and automotive industries by gaining new jobs in medicine. In fact, Cleveland is one of the best places to be in the world if one needs medical treatment, and medical field continues to grow here by leaps and bounds. While it hasn’t made up for all the “blue-collar” job loss, it certainly has helped to slow the complete decline of jobs in the area.
So while John sees no hope, I see a chance for these areas hit my manufacturing job loss to reinvent themselves to attract a new kind of employment boom, in things like medicine, renewable energy, technology, etc. Some of those industries could very will bring some blue-collar jobs back that McCain says are gone for good. And NAFTA probably does need a second look, and changes to that could bring even more blue-collar jobs back, but McCain doesn't seem to think NAFTA is broken. Things do not have to be hopeless…well, except maybe to John McCain, who has no real vision for the future.
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