Ground down by years of stalled job growth, urban decay, and a rising cost of living, Michigan voters are wary of the revitalization talk, according to the headline in the New York Times.
But that didn't stop the Republican presidential candidates from delivering a message of hope and optimism as they stump for primary votes in the Great Lakes State. What all the campaigns seemed to lack, however, was a targeted agenda of action items designed to get the state back on track.
Michigan native Mitt Romney, in what many pundits call a must-win situation, said "the nation needs Michigan to succeed. Because if Michigan can't make it, then America's got real challenges down the road."
But it was Senator John McCain and Governor Mike Huckabee who seemed to rhetorically rise above Michigan's temporary economic hardship most sincerely and effectively with an appeal to the state's greatness.
Gov. Huckabee said America has a duty to help Michigan regain its footing.
"There was a time in this country when Michigan was the centerpiece, the heartland, of what Franklin Roosevelt called the 'Arsenal Democracy' where, it wasn't just about building cars," Gov. Huckabee said. "It was about building the capacity to defend this nation. Had it not been for Michigan, we would not have won World War Two because it was out of the manufacturing mindset that was headquartered here that we understood how to build our tanks, our airplanes, our jeeps. Had we not had that capacity, we might not have the freedom that we have here today. This country owes Michigan a lot for its freedom."
"Michigan helped save America," Gov. Huckabee said. "Now it's time that America help save Michigan."
John McCain sounded a strikingly similiar theme in his speeches: "The best and most productive workers in the world reside in the state of Michigan, my friends, and they can compete with anybody," he said.
The questions for the candidates - Democrats, too - is 'where's the beef?' How, specifically, does Washington, D.C. propose to move Michigan more quickly toward modernity?" It will take more than tax cuts and worker retraining programs to make the state - and, by extension, the nation - a force in the 21st century.