By Christy Strawser
CBS Detroit Managing Editor
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Republicans and Democrats will have warring parties — literally — during President Barack Obama’s Wednesday swing through the battleground state of Michigan.
While businesswoman Denise Ilitch holds a $40,000-a-person, Michigan-themed fundraiser at her Bingham Farms home and the Henry Ford in Dearborn hosts a $5,000-a-plate event, local Republicans announced they’ll hold their own competing event: The People’s Pizza Party.
It’s a play on Denise Ilitch’s powerful family, which owns the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, and many landmark downtown buildings — in addition to founding the Little Caesars Pizza chain. Little Caesars is not affiliated with Ilitch’s fundraiser, which is a private event.
But that’s not stopping the Oakland County Republicans, who are hosting the pizza event at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at their headquarters, 42611 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills.
“I hope you will join us as we dine on pizza the way ordinary people do: Paper plates, paper napkins and plastic cups,” Oakland Republicans said in a press release.
Obama’s event at the historic Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn costs $5,000 to have dinner with the president and get a photo, $1,000 for a VIP rope line to shake his hand and $250 to attend. About 600 are expected.
It may or may not be a coincidence that Republican candidate Mitt Romney announced his first bid for presidency at the Henry Ford. Romney’s father George Romney was Michigan’s governor from 1963 to 1969.
The Denise Ilitch event will feature Michigan products, including white fish, vegetables, home brews, and Motown music. Participants will pay $40,000 for a cocktail reception and $10,000 per person for a dinner and candid photo.
“More importantly, the president of the United States is coming to our hometown and state,” Ilitch said in an interview with “Michigan Matters” host Carol Cain. “I’m going to be able to help showcase Michigan to our president.”
Obama is expected to haul in $1 million between the two fundraisers.
“Making a point to insult what they call the 1 percent and the next day sitting down with them for a $40,000-a-plate dinner…There’s some hypocrisy there,” Michigan GOP spokesman Matt Frendewey said.
He added that Republicans haven’t decided where to get their pizza for the “people’s party,” but it will be Domino’s, Little Caesars, Jet’s or Hungry Howie’s, all Michigan-based chains. “We’re all about supporting Michigan companies,” Frendewey said.