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After much debate about the right number of debates, Michigan’s gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Virg Bernero and Republican Rick Snyder, finally faced off in the only formal debate of the campaign on Sunday October 10th.
It didn’t take long for the gloves to come off regarding jobs, and allegations that Snyder sent jobs overseas when he was CEO of Gateway.
“I helped create 10,000 jobs. And very successfully did that. When the company got in trouble, they asked me to come back. I came back as interim CEO and I brought jobs back to the U.S. I brought tech support and manufacturing jobs back to the United States. And why did I do that? Because I understand the value of the American worker, and how it’s much better to have high quality great American workers instead of low cost labor,” said Snyder.
But Bernero went on the attack, claiming Snyder wasn’t being truthful.
“As far as Gateway, either he lied to SEC or he’s lying here tonight. He signed off on 10k forms to the SEC, clearly approving and certifying the outsourcing that took place. As far as Discera, it’s on two websites that they are expanding in China. Their own company, Dicsera, that he’s on the board of, put out a press release saying they’re moving R and D overseas to China, and the specific quote is ‘we’re helping Chinese businesses compete and win in the global market place,’” said Bernero.
Another issue the candidates tackled during the debate concerned tax reform.
Snyder said the state’s personal property tax is creating havoc and the Michigan Business Tax is a jobs killer, and he said, we need to get rid of both.
“People want to see the MBT go away. As I said on the campaign trail, when they brought it in, they replaced the single business tax. It’s just like Lansing went to the video store and rented ‘Dumb and Dumber,’” said Snyder.
“It’s funny that my opponent talks about ‘Dumb and Dumber.’ He’s got one of them working for him. One of the guys who authored the Michigan Business Tax that he wants to eliminate is actually Brian Calley, his Lt. Governor. So I guess if you don’t want ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ you better not vote for the Republican ticket,” said Bernero.
Snyder and Bernero finally agreed to this one hour-long debate after much hullabaloo surrounding the issue.
Bernero originally had asked for eight debates and repeatedly criticized Snyder for allegedly trying to avoid participating in any.
A new poll released Sunday shows Snyder with a 20-point lead just three weeks before the Nov. 2 election, and Bernero tried to use Sunday’s debate to narrow the gap.
Bernero ran an underfunded and largely invisible campaign during the Democratic primary. The Lansing mayor beat House Speaker Andy Dillon handily but came out of the primary still largely unknown.
Snyder is an Ann Arbor businessman who put $6.1 million of his own money into his primary race. He promotes himself as “one tough nerd.”
The hour-long debate took place at the Detroit Public Television studio. Debate sponsors and media watched on a large screen in a nearby room.
(Copyright 2010 WWJ Radio. All Rights Reserved. AP contributed to this report.)