Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will likely point to his success in turning around Detroit as he builds a potential campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, and he plans an extensive travel schedule next year to "explain the Michigan story to the rest of the country."
"As we solve these problems, one of the things you find is the perception of an area tends to lag five or 10 years behind the reality of it," Snyder told Politico
on Wednesday, one day before Detroit was to regain control of its own finances just 16 months after the city filed the largest municipal bankruptcy
in the history of the United States.
Snyder's emergency manager
for Detroit is stepping down, and the city has eliminated billions of dollars in debt
, marking not only a win for the city, but a political claim for Snyder that will boost his national profile.
The governor's tour is officially to promote the economy of Detroit, and he insists his focus "right now" is on his own office's agenda, but "you know that there are traditional timelines that people have to look at if they’re looking at those things. I’m just focused on being governor right now."
But even with Snyder's Republican leadership, Michigan is divided politically, with Detroit leaning Democratic. As the city was put into bankruptcy, its public employee unions pushed back and said they would not allow cuts in their benefits.
Snyder told Politico the federal government can learn a great deal from what was accomplished in Detroit.
"Washington is a mess," said Snyder, a former chief executive at Gateway Computers. "If they’d stop fighting and blaming one another, they’d get a lot of work done. Why don’t they show some successes and get some of those things done together? We all represent the same customers, the citizens, so let’s just solve their problems."
Snyder said Wednesday during a press conference that Detroit is not only emerging from bankruptcy, but response time for police and firefighters has improved, as have city services such as trash collection.
The Michigan governor is one of four from the Midwest alone who may be considering a presidential run in 2016, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker being most likely to campaign. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said he will decide this spring, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he is waiting to see how the ever-growing field of potential Republicans shakes out.
Snyder did not say if the early primary states of Iowa or New Hampshire will be among his tour stops.
But while talk of a Snyder campaign is getting some buzz, former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who lost the GOP primary to Snyder four years ago, said the governor gets "straight A's across the board" for handling Detroit's bankruptcy, but he may be better suited for other roles within a GOP presidency.
Instead of the White House, Cox said, a Republican president would do well to appoint Snyder as Treasury secretary or to direct the Office of Management and Budget.
But Jase Bolger, the GOP speaker of Michigan's state House, said that Snyder should not be underestimated as a contender.
"If you look at Michigan on paper in 2010, we looked very much like the country today: mounting debt, long-term problems," he told Politico. "To those who say he doesn’t have a chance to be president, I say the parallels are eerie."
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