By Carol Cain

With the presidential election 18 months away, looks like Michigan is shaping up as the newest hot spot and swing state that matters most to Democratic presidential candidates and President Donald J. Trump.

(Credit: Mandel Ngan)

(Credit: Mandel Ngan)

Democrats know their path to the White House must include Michigan and Trump, and the GOP is ready for a rumble.

Ohio has been a vital state in recent years in indicating who wins the White House. But it isn’t technically considered a swing state by pundits as it voted GOP in 2016 and also steered red in the 2018 midterms.

Michigan, meanwhile, is up for grabs.

The president is heading to Grand Rapids, Thursday and will no doubt take a victory lap after initial reports about the FBI probe found not enough evidence to charge him with colluding with the Russians in the 2016 election.

With Michigan on his mind, Trump was seen last week golfing with Detroit’s Kid Rock and recently requested Michigan’s new Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sit next to him at the National Governor’s Association dinner at the White House.

(Credit: Andrea Hanks/ White House)

(Credit: Andrea Hanks/ White House)

“President Trump expanded the map, winning states that Republicans have not won in decades,” said Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for Trump’s campaign. “Among these states was Michigan. He will be returning to Michigan and sharing his undeniable list of achievements with the American people. He brought back hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs and growing paychecks.”

Unlike 2016 when Hillary Clinton mostly ignored Michigan during the general election, Democrats are armed with new leadership and stepping up to avoid mistakes that possibly cost them the White House.

Whitmer took to Twitter a few weeks ago and rolled out the welcome wagon for Democratic presidential candidates, adding, “all roads to the White House lead through Michigan.”

(Credit: Kena Betancur/ Getty Images)

(Credit: Kena Betancur/ Getty Images)

Presidential hopefuls U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke crisscrossed Metro Detroit last Monday with campaign stops.

(Credit: Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images)

(Credit: Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images)

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris will be in Detroit as the keynote speaker at the influential 64th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner of the Detroit Branch NAACP on May 5. It’s a high profile speaking platform with over 10,000 people and has been a favorite of previous Democratic presidential candidates (Bill and Hillary Clinton and Al Gore to name a few).

(Credit: Bill Pugliano/ Getty Images)

(Credit: Bill Pugliano/ Getty Images)

Many in Southeast Michigan are quietly holding their collective breath in anticipation of former Vice President Joe Biden’s decision on whether he will throw his hat into the ring. Biden’s legendary in these parts, and is extremely close with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and was a frequent visitor during the Obama years as the auto industry fell apart and GM and FCA went through bankruptcies.

“Just like every other state President Trump won in 2016, Michigan will be critical to the President’s re-election bid in 2020,” said Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the National Republican Committee who hails from a well known Michigan political family. Her grandfather is former Michigan Gov. George Romney (a former presidential candidate), and her uncle is U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

(Credit: Scott Olson/ Getty Images)

(Credit: Scott Olson/ Getty Images)

“President Trump’s America First policies continue to benefit Michiganders immensely, from manufacturing jobs coming back to Michigan to the President’s roaring economy,” McDaniel added.

Until 2016 Michigan had voted Democratic in every presidential race since George H. W. Bush in 1988. However, the 2018 mid-terms found a pink and blue wave sweeping Michigan and other states as women won top jobs. In Michigan that included females winning the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state races.

(Credit: Shealah Craighead, White House)

(Credit: Shealah Craighead, White House)

US Congresswoman, Debbie Dingell, raised the warning flag for fellow Democrats 18 months before Trump claimed victory in 2016. She earned the nickname “Debbie Downer” because of her prophetic words about Trump’s campaign catching on with blue collar, the middle class and folks who felt disenfranchised from both parties.

When asked about his prospects this time, Dingell said: “It’s a long time between now and next November.”

(Credit: Tasos Katopodis/ Getty Images)

(Credit: Tasos Katopodis/ Getty Images)

“Michigan is at play and whoever connects with the workers will be the winner,” she said. “Yes, the climate is a little different than two years ago but this state remains very competitive. Trade mattered two years ago, trade matters now and Democrats must do a better job of talking about it.”

(Credit: Jim Hill)

(Credit: Jim Hill)

Peter Secchia, Grand Rapids businessman and former U.S. Ambassador to Italy, has been on board with Trump since the beginning. He isn’t worried about the Democrats.

“People in Michigan welcomed him,” said Secchia, adding Trump’s message is as relevant today as it was in his first campaign. “He professed reality to the ‘changing of the Guard’ in DC he ran on, and voters approved.”

The Michigan Democratic Party just announced it is joining with their counterparts in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. There are strengths in numbers.

(Credit: Bill Pugliano/ Getty Images)

(Credit: Bill Pugliano/ Getty Images)

“This effort will not only strengthen our respective abilities to defeat Trump in 2020, but it will allow us to get an early start on laying the groundwork to elect Democrats up and down the ballot throughout Michigan and across the country,” said Lavora Barnes, the new chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.

Newly elected Michigan Republican State Party Chair Laura Cox added her thoughts: “Democrats know that their path to retake the White House runs right through our state. President Trump and Republicans across Michigan are ready to fight to deny them that path.”

© 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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