Michigan governor’s message to Democrats ahead of debate: ‘Focus on the fundamentals’

Posted at 5:16 PM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 19:16:24-04

Michigan’s governor has a simple message for the 20 Democratic presidential hopefuls primed tomeet in Detroit this week for a second round of televised debates: “Stay focused on the fundamentals.”

“People are losing sleep over the fundamentals, not about what is happening in Washington, DC,” Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” hosted from Detroit on Monday. “Giving a vision and solutions is these issues I think is most powerful thing any candidate can do.”

The Democrats running for president may want to listen to Whitmer’s advice on capturing the Democratic vote in Michigan — while President Donald Trump won the state in the 2016 presidential race, Whitmer defeated her Republican contender as a part of the “pink wave” of female Democrats that ousted Republicans from some of Michigan’s top statewide offices in the 2018 midterm elections.

Whitmer said she won her seat by hammering on so-called kitchen table issues.

“I ran on fixing the roads … I ran on cleaning up drinking water,” Whitmer said, referring to the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where the government’s cost-cutting measures led to lead-tainted drinking water.

In discussing big issues like health care and the climate crisis, Whitmer said candidates should “attach the bigger ideas out of Washington, DC, into the daily lives of people.” When candidates get caught in the details, she said it “just feeds into people’s anxieties.”

Ultimately, Whitmer said there are no tricks to winning votes in Michigan.

“What is the magic sauce in Michigan? There’s nothing mystical about it,” Whitmer said. “People want leaders they can look up to, who can solve problems and actually deliver results for our people.”

CNN will broadcast the second round of Democratic National Committee-sanctioned debates live from Detroit at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday and Wednesday. Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper will serve together as the moderators for both debates.