Posted on July 10

Clif Reeder
Senator McCain speaks in Belleville to a group of Michignaders in a town hall meeting at the Bayloff Stamped Products factor. (CLIF REEDER / Daily)

BELLEVILLE – Sen. John McCain returned to Michigan today for a town hall meeting with factory workers. The discussion largely focused on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s plans to replace the state’s lost manufacturing jobs.

“America is hurting, Michigan is hurting, the automotive industry is hurting today,” McCain said.

Prefacing his statement by saying “I don’t want to insult your intelligence by saying this because you already know.” McCain then acknowledged the staggering numbers facing Michigan: There are 425,000 jobless Michiganders, which equates to about 8.5 percent of the state’s workforce.

McCain told the factory workers present at the event, which took place at Bayloff Stamped Products, that the jobs already lost to outsourcing may be gone forever.

But he seemed hopeful that green technology and the opportunities its development could create would bring new jobs to the state and the country.

McCain described his plan to develop green technology in the automobile and energy industries. With a tentative plan to open 45 nuclear power plants, which he said would create 700,000 jobs, McCain said he believes the United States can stimulate the poor job market by generating these technologies.

“The future of energy in America is green technology,” McCain said. “I think green technologies, including in the automotive industry, are going to fuel the economy in the years to come.”

McCain’s stance on developing hybrid and other energy-efficient cars was met with some opposition by audience members, but he quickly quelled their concerns.

“Human activity which has produced greenhouse gases is affecting this planet’s environment,” McCain said. “Suppose I am wrong and there is no climate change going on . All we do is give our kids a cleaner planet. Suppose I am right and we do nothing . I think we owe our kids and grandkids more.”

Although the presumptive nominee said he was committed to helping the environment, he expressed an interest in drilling for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and off the coast of states like Florida to cut gas prices and reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

McCain also repeatedly mentioned cutting spending in Washington, D.C., saying that he was tired of seeing taxpayers’ money spent on frivolous expenses.

“We will stop the out of control spending in our nation’s capitol,” he said. “You can count on me.”

After a brief introduction by a Bayloff spokesman about the hardships of the automotive industry, McCain took the stage for an open forum, during which he answered questions for about an hour.

He began by saying that he thought the town hall meeting was the best way to address the problems facing the United States and criticized Sen. Barack Obama’s decision not to participate in the meetings McCain proposed.

“I regret that Sen. Obama has not decided to come here or anywhere to join me in a town hall meeting,” he said.

But McCain wasn’t all business. He kept things light-hearted and drew frequent chuckles from the small crowd, most of whom were middle-aged and white.

The next stop for the McCain campaign is tomorrow morning in Hudson, Wis., where he will host a women’s town hall meeting.

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