tate GOP endorses Engler, refocuses
attention on Republican government
The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 22, 1997 - 5A,
MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP)
The good times may be rolling in
ichigan, but voters won't necessarily
*e Gov. John Engler the credit next
year unless he reminds them that things
didn't go so well under former Gov.
That was the consensus of political
consultants, pollsters and party activists
gathered Saturday for the 22nd biennial
Michigan Republican Leadership
Conference on Mackinac Island.
"We are experiencing an unprece-
dented period of good feeling ... that
Ahtses (voters) to almost take for grant-
Vwhat's happening," said David Hill,
director of Hill Research Consultants
and a pollster for Engler.
"They begin to forget who's responsi-
ble for this ... (and) about John Engler's
contribution. We must make them
understand the risk of going back to the
To do that, Republicans plan to put
the blame for the state's troubles in the
Os squarely on Democrats and espe-
ially Blanchard, the Democrat who
was governor from 1983-90.
And they plan to paint this year's
Democratic front-runners - guberna-
torial candidates Larry Owen of East
Lansing and Doug Ross of West
Bloomfield - as tied to the policies of
"Larry Owen, Doug Ross are from
the Blanchard administration." said
Engler press secretary John Truscott.
"They still hold that philosophy that
government should do for you."
Truscott ran through a list of
Engler's accomplishments, from
reforming welfare to getting the
unemployment rate down to 3.7 per-
cent to cutting taxes.
In a Friday news release, however,
Michigan Democratic Party Chair
Mark Brewer said Engler can't claim
credit for Michigan's resurgence.
"Under President Bill Clinton, our
nation has enjoyed the lowest rate of
unemployment and inflation in modern
history. Every Great Lakes state has
reaped the benefits of this prosperity,"
Brewer said. "Our robust economy is
the Clinton difference."
Brewer defended Blanchard's record,
noting that by 1990, when Blanchard
lost to Engler in his bid for a third term,
"the 'comeback state' had already gen-
erated 650,000 new jobs, vastly lower
welfare rolls and lower state payrolls."
He chided Engler for letting roads
and bridges deteriorate, cutting money
for adult education and at-risk stu-
dents and disregarding the environ-
But for Republicans attending the
conference, Engler was the hero of the
hour and their hope for the future.
They gave him a standing ovation
"We are experiencing an
unprecedented period of good
f,.. that causes (voters) to
almost take for granted what's
- David Hill
and cheers of "four more years!" when
he stood to introduce U.S. House
Speaker Newt Gingrich during
In fact, Engler is doing such a good
job in Irene Bagby's eyes that the GOP
delegate sees little reason to remind
voters of the past. She wants him to
focus instead on saying what he plans to
do in the next four years.
"The comparison (to Blanchard) is
unnecessary. Things are going extreme-
ly well under John Engler," the Lansing
resident said. "Why not continue to
focus on the good he's doing and con
continue to do?"
State Sen. Bill Schuette said Engler's
message for the future should focus on
more tax cuts. He predicted an income
tax cut will be part of the Engler's agen-
da next year.
Engler's message "has to be the
Republican Party is the party of tax cuts
in the past and of tax cuts in the future.
Republicans have to dominate the tax
issue," the Midland Republican said.
Hill agrees that part of Engler's win-
ning strategy will have to include telling
voters his vision for the future. But that
can't be his entire message.
His thoughts echoed those of
Washington-based political consul-
tant Michael Murphy, who has helped
steer Engler election efforts in the past.
"Half the campaign is talking about
the bad old days, and half is talking
about what the third term is all about,"
the consultant said.
So what's the third term going to be
"Stand by," said Murphy. "It's com-
Michigan Union Ticket Office
& all TicketMaster outlets.
Charge at 313/763-TKTS or
online at www.ticketmaster.com
Concert info at http://
UM Major Events
Division of Student Affairs