Michigan Voters Mainly Concerned About Economy

     

    Republican presidential candidates are campaigning in Michigan ahead of a primary election there on Tuesday.  Opinion polls show a tight race between former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who was born in Michigan.  Both of the leading candidates are trying to appeal to voters concerned about the U.S. economy.

    As a gentle snow falls on Kalamazoo, Michigan, class is in session at the Bult home.
    Colleen Bult home schools her five children, which she says is the easy part.  What’s more difficult for her and her husband, is figuring out how to make ends meet. “We feel very blessed that he does have a job. It’s always in the back of our mind that it might not be there tomorrow," she said.

    Bult and many others in Michigan say they are making do with less these days.

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a native of this state, is trying to key into such voter concerns. “It’s tough.  You’ve got a lot of people in real trouble in this country," he said.

    Romney is running about even in public-opinion polls with Rick Santorum, who hopes to appeal to working-class concerns here.

     

    Michigan's economy has suffered dramatically for years.  There are some recent signs of recovery, but Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce President Steward Sandstrom says voter confidence is still down.

    “This idea of the cost of living’s gone up, especially gas prices, and we’ve seen that daily, and the income not going up. … It stifles things," he said.

    High gas prices are a concern for David Rhoa.  His company, Lake Michigan Mailers, spends about $10,000 a week on fuel.  It's just one of many issues he grapples with as a small business owner.

    “When you look at what’s going on in the state, when you look at what’s going on in Washington, is there any predictability in what’s going on?  Can you predict what’s going to happen next? It affects people on Main Street because they start saying, 'You know what?  I can’t plan for what’s next," he said.

    Rhoa still hasn’t decided which candidate to vote for in Michigan’s February 28 Republican primary election.

    That’s not the case for Colleen Bult, who is solidly supporting Rick Santorum.

    But with her oldest child in college, and four more on the way, she says no candidate has the right equation about how to help them pay for it. “Do we have a plan?  Trusting it, day by day, and hoping that God has a plan," she said.

    Bult's immediate plan is to deal with the snow piling up on her sidewalk, something she can manage with a little help from her students.


    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

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