President Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016 because he paid attention to the state in a way Democrats did not, and that attention will continue through the 2020 presidential campaign, says Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
“For so long, we were not a state that had presidential candidates visiting our state. We were kind of flown over,” said McDaniel, who was head of the Michigan Republican Party in 2016. “And he really went against conventional wisdom that Michigan was a state that was unwinnable for Republicans and came here significantly more than Hillary Clinton did.
“I think he cares about the voters in the state. He cares about manufacturing. He cares about jobs in the state,” she said. “Coming back to Michigan is something that’s important to him.”
Speaking to MLive just before Trump’s Thursday night rally in Grand Rapids, McDaniel said Trump’s affection for Michigan has continued during his presidency, McDaniel said.
“Democrats haven’t paid attention to Michigan for a while,” she said. “President Trump has. He’s been here since he’s been president. He’s obviously coming today doing this big rally in Grand Rapids.”
McDaniel said Michigan is definitely a battleground state for 2020.
“It’s going to be a key,” she said.
The slender margin in 2016 — Trump won the state by fewer than 11,000 votes, about 0.2 percent of ballots cast — means Trump can’t take Michigan for granted in 2020. McDaniel said that’s particularly true with the recent changes in state laws, including allowing people to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day. That reform typically benefits Democrats.
“It’s going to be a state that’s going to take a lot more infrastructure than what we had in 2016 to be competitive in 2020,” McDaniel said.
But she thinks Trump’s message resonates well in the state. She pointed to the “very, very high turnout” at the Grand Rapids rally.
“I think a lot of what resonated with President Trump and people in Michigan –, with people like in Macomb County and out here in Kent County — is the fact that he was a businessman, that he wasn’t going to Washington as a stock politician,” she said.
People also are enthusiastic about Trump’s cutting of regulations, “things that were limiting (business owners’) ability to hire new employees or invest in equipment for their company,” she said. “And then also the tax cuts, has really boosted our economy and Michigan has seen 90,000 new jobs come to the States since President Trump’s been in office.”
In this campaign, voters can expect for Trump to fight hard for re-election, McDaniel said.
“I think he’s going to compete,” she said. “President Trump campaigns at a level like you haven’t seen other candidates.
“Now it is going to be a little harder to be as nimble now that he’s the president; he has Secret Service, getting into a state it’s different than being a candidate,” she said. “But he recognizes how important Michigan is. And certainly the RNC recognizes it and the campaign does. So we are going to be all in in Michigan.”