Castro, Booker only candidates to bring up Michigan at 3rd Dem presidential debate

By: - September 13, 2019 9:32 am

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) (L-R), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), former tech executive Andrew Yang, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, former housing secretary Julian Castro appear on stage before the start of the Democratic Presidential Debate at Texas Southern University’s Health and PE Center on September 12, 2019 in Houston, Texas | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Michigan was a big topic at the last round of Democratic debates in July — just as you’d expect for events held in Detroit.

Cory Booker after the second debate | Andrew Roth

During the third debate in Houston on Thursday night, however, our state’s stock definitely fell, with only former U.S. House and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) mentioning Michigan.

The event also featured former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and businessman Andrew Yang.

Castro referred to the Mitten State in his opening statement — the first one of the night — along with a slew of other states after he assured the audience that “there will be life after [President] Donald Trump.”

Julian Castro after the second debate | Andrew Roth

“But first, we have to win,” Castro added. “And that means exciting a young, diverse coalition of Americans who are ready for a bold future. That’s what [John F.] Kennedy did; it’s what [Jimmy] Carter did; it’s what [Bill] Clinton did; it’s what Barack Obama did — and it’s what I can do in this race. Get back Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia and Arizona, and finally turn Texas blue and say goodbye to Donald Trump.”

Booker raised the Flint water crisis, something that Castro, author Marianne Williamson and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio discussed at the Detroit debates in July.

“If you’ve talked to someone who’s a parent of a child has had permanent brain damage because of lead, you’ll know this is a national problem, because there’s over 3,000 jurisdictions in America where children have more than twice the blood lead levels of Flint, Mich.,” Booker said on Thursday.

During the first night of the Detroit debates, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) hit Sanders over his Medicare for All health plan for harming union workers in Michigan, something the U.S. senator strongly denied. Sanders also bragged about winning the 2016 Michigan Democratic primary and Ryan said he visited immigrant children in Grand Rapids earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Warren touted the impact of her green manufacturing plan in Michigan. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) name-checked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her infrastructure plan. Buttigieg was asked about worker retraining in light of a General Motors plant closing in Warren and he talked about commonalities with his hometown of South Bend. Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) said Detroit was almost “destroyed” by bad trade policy.

On night two in Detroit, Yang talked about automation in Detroit and how his universal basic income plan would help city residents. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has since dropped out, noted Detroit’s most polluted ZIP code, 48217, which he visited.

Plenty of candidates made the case that they could win Michigan and noted their visits to the state, including Biden and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) who also ended her campaign. Booker talked about African American voter suppression in Michigan and touted his family ties in Detroit.

And in the first debates in Miami, it was Yang, Ryan and Klobuchar who played the Michigan card.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 23-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on C-SPAN, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ people, the state budget, the economy and more. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 100 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive.