If you want an honest opinion, ask a stranger, or so the saying goes. During the past couple of weeks, the political press corps has been spread out across Michigan, following Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul around the state, finding all kinds of things out.
Their stories have reflected a state that some Midwesterners might not recognize. So, here’s a list of what we learned through the Michigan primary.
1) We’re in a class war. The Michigan Republican party is divided between wealthy people and working class and middle class Republicans, or so writers told us.
Ron Brownstein of the National Journal found the latter at the Knights of Columbus hall in Lincoln Park.
They’re what he needs if Santorum is going to eventually beat Romney. He ” will likely have to reach more deeply into blue-collar, heavily Catholic, working-class white communities that have became central to the Republican electoral coalition, especially between the coasts,” Brownstein wrote.
Paul West of the Los Angeles Times found the same thing when he went to Troy. “The bitter Republican primary battle in Michigan has turned into an all-out class war,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Romney received attention last week when he talked about his family’s four cars — a Ford Mustang, Chevrolet pickup and his wife Ann’s “couple of Cadillacs.”
He was steadfastly unapologetic. “”If people think that there is something wrong with being successful in America, then they better vote for the other guy,” he said on Fox News. “Because I’ve been extraordinarily successful and I want to use that success and that know-how to help the American people.”
2) Michigan has great trees and looks like Pennsylvania. Throughout his campaign, Romney kept remarking that Michigan’s trees “are the right height.” Nobody knows how he drew that conclusion, and we’re sure Massachusetts trees must feel kind of jealous. But it sounded a little bit like the Pure Michigan ads that the state’s tourism office runs.
Meanwhile, Santorum told a crowd in the Upper Peninsula that Superiorland reminds him of Pennsylvania, which he represented in the U.S. Senate. “I feel a great connection to the people up here,” Santorum said, citing the mining industry, timber, tourism and proximity to a Great Lake.
3) You can eat a pasty for breakfast. Pasties, the hearty hand-held pies eaten by Cornish miners, are a staple of Michigan cuisine north of Gaylord. But we’ve always thought of them as a lunch or dinner treat.
Not Santorum. He stopped in to Lawry’s Pasty Shop in Marquette, and later told a crowd in Kalamazoon that he had a pasty for breakfast — complete with Heinz ketchup from his native state, according to the Marquette Mining Journal. We don’t know what kind of pasty he had, but Lawry’s sells two varieties on line: the 12 ounce beef, and the 17 ounce beef.
4) Detroit is a pretty hip city. Well, we knew that, but now the New York Daily News thinks so, too. “Despite hard times, the Motor City is full of surprises,” the paper told its readers in a piece titled, “Great American City: Detroit.”
Wrote the Daily News, “Not many people pondering vacation destinations think of the Motor City — but they should.
Detroit surprises. So do its residents… They smile. They say hello. They are helpful and creative and work hard for what they have. It shows in everything they do.”
That’s a nice note to wave good bye to campaign staffers and journalists departing once the vote totals come in. But we’ll see you in the fall. And also, in Ohio. We’re sure we’ll learn a lot about the Buckeye State from you, too.