Metro Detroit plays significant role in presidential election

Major candidates make several stops in region

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published January 4, 2017


METRO DETROIT — This past year, the region, especially Macomb County, and specifically the city of Warren, proved to be a pivotal campaign stop for U.S. presidential hopefuls Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, as all four candidates held rallies there in hopes of becoming the next commander-in-chief.

The candidates spoke about the economy, the automotive industry, education, health care, foreign policy, immigration and more to local residents, including supporters and protesters.

Trump, the Republican business mogul elected to be the next president of the United States in the Nov. 8 election, rallied at the South Campus of Macomb Community College in Warren March 4 — prior to the March 8 Michigan primary election — and again Oct. 31, eight days before Election Day. He also came to Freedom Hill County Park in Sterling Heights Nov. 6.

On March 4, Trump reminded the crowd, “I’m not controlled by a union. I’m not controlled by anyone.” Trump addressed illegal immigration, ISIS, the Affordable Care Act and more.

“This is car country. We’re going to keep it car country. The car business is being abused. We want the cars to be built here,” he told the crowd of 4,000 people. “A lot of the business comes from overseas and is going to Mexico. China, they’ve taken our jobs. Their leaders are too smart for our leaders.

“I believe in free trade, but it’s got to be fair trade. It’s got to be smart trade. It’s got to be even trade,” Trump said through applause. “When you want to do business in China, it’s damned impossible. It’s not going to happen like that anymore.”

On Aug. 11, former Secretary of State and New York Sen. Clinton spoke to an enthusiastic crowd about her economic policy at the Futuramic Tool & Engineering Co. in Warren. Clinton laid out her job creation vision for America. The plan, she said, would create more than 10 million new jobs nationwide.

“Here at Futuramic, so well-named, you are on the front lines of what I believe will be a true manufacturing renaissance in America,” Clinton said in August. “What happened here is what can happen across America. America’s best days are ahead of us if we make up our minds and actually go out and make that happen,” she added. “In America, if you can dream it, you should be able to build it.”

On March 5, nearly 3,000 people came out to “Feel the Bern” at MCC’s Warren campus to see presidential Democratic candidate and Vermont Sen. Sanders.

Republican Ohio Gov. Kasich rallied March 2 at Warren’s Ukrainian Cultural Center, and held a Wayne County town hall meeting March 7 at University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Warren was a major player for the candidates because of its ties to the auto industry, manufacturing businesses and its diverse population. Michigan is always a significant campaign stop because of its Electoral College number of 16.

The 2016 U.S. presidential election will most likely go down in history as one of the most interesting, unpredictable and impassioned. It took an emotional toll on the entire country; started nonstop, ugly debates on social media; and ended many friendships.

“It is one of the craziest campaigns I’ve seen in my life, with totally unexpected twists and turns,” said Oak Park resident Aaron Tobin, who attended Trump’s rally Oct. 31. “Friendships have been broken. Civil conversations seem to have taken a break. You can’t even discuss your views. People are very passionate about who is running. Their passion is blinding them to be objective.”

Tobin, 50, backed Trump.

“I wanted to show there is Jewish support for him,” he said. “One of the things that impressed me about Trump, you know where he stands. He gives you a straight answer.”

Roseville resident Mike Steenland has been “a Democrat many years,” but this election he got behind Trump. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan resonated with the 50-year-old.

“That spirit we’ve lost as a nation,” said Steenland, who felt inspired every time he watched a Trump rally on television.

Kara Agby, 20, a student studying integrative public relations at Central Michigan University, backed Sanders.

“A lot of people that I associate myself with feel the same way (about Sanders),” said Agby, who is originally from Harrison Township. “It’s kind of nice to have support from not only millennials as a group, but people I associate with. It’s pretty cool that as I’m coming up into the workforce, it’s really fun to be a part of this movement. It’s a future to believe in, and it’s fun to have my friends on board with that too.”

Nedra Jordan, 70, of Pleasant Ridge, arrived at Futuramic at 10 a.m. Aug. 11 to get a front-row seat for Clinton’s remarks. She said she’s volunteered for the Clinton campaign in the past and wore a shirt to the speech that said, “Women’s rights are human rights.” The phrase was once used by Clinton, who, as first lady of the United States, delivered a speech during a 1995 United Nations conference in Beijing.

“Hillary is fantastic, and I think she’s the answer,” Jordan said. “I think she’s going to be the greatest president we’ve ever had. We just need to give her a chance.”

“He’s the voice of reason,” 46-year-old Lisa Budnick said of Kasich while at the Grosse Pointe Woods town hall meeting. “He’s definitely my top choice. I like his ideas. I think he’s smart.”

Staff Writers Brian Louwers and Nick Mordowanec contributed to this report.