LANSING (AP) — The head of the state Republican Party said
Friday the party has released an ad saying Democrats in Washington
have a “back-door plan to outlaw trucks, vans and SUVs”
and criticizing Gov. Jennifer Granholm for going along.

Although the ad doesn’t mention Democratic presidential
candidate John Kerry’s name, it’s clearly aimed at him.
A Granholm spokesman dismissed the ad as “fantasy.”

“John Kerry has not made any statements along the line of
what they’re saying. He has made it clear to everyone,
including Governor Granholm, that he will work with the auto
industry to make things better in this country,” spokesman
Chris De Witt said. “All they’re trying to do is hide
the terrible Bush economic record in this country and in Michigan
in particular.”

The GOP ads began running Wednesday. On Friday, Kerry and
running mate John Edwards unveiled their energy plan at a campaign
stop in Missouri. While Kerry called for increasing motor
vehicles’ fuel efficiency, he didn’t set a per-gallon
goal, as he has in the past.

The plan includes $10 million to help U.S. automakers retool
their plants to build more fuel-efficient vehicles. It also would
require the federal government buy more hybrid and advanced diesel
vehicles and offer consumers incentives up to $5,000 if they bought
one.

In the past, Kerry has promoted legislation to raise
fuel-efficiency standards on cars and light trucks enough to
produce a fleet average of 36 miles per gallon by 2015, up from the
27.5 mpg now required.

Granholm said while endorsing Kerry in January that she
didn’t support Kerry’s 36-mpg goal and was giving her
endorsement only because it was clear he was willing to be
reasonable about raising fuel efficiency standards.

“I would not be standing here if he didn’t make it
very clear that he’s not interested in hurting the auto
industry,” she said then.

The state is home to the Big Three automakers and more than a
quarter of a million residents who earn their paychecks working for
automakers and auto suppliers.

But GOP arguments that Kerry would cost Michigan jobs
didn’t stop the United Auto Workers international union from
endorsing Kerry in March, despite the union’s own concerns
that higher fuel-efficiency standards would be bad for
autoworkers.

The GOP ad, entitled “Jobs Killer,” warns of dire
consequences if fuel efficiency standards are increased.

“If you drive a pickup truck or an SUV, take good care of
it. It might be the last one you’ll ever own. Democrats in
Washington are using junk science to push unreasonable mileage
restrictions on new vehicles.

“It’s a back-door plan to outlaw trucks, vans and
SUVs,” state GOP Chairwoman Betsy DeVos says in the 60-second
ad.

“Economists predict that if this crazy scheme becomes law,
Michigan would lose 130,000 jobs. The worst news is that Governor
Granholm is going along, giving her full support to the same
politicians who back this radical plan.”

The ad urges listeners to tell Granholm to “stop playing
politics with Michigan jobs” and ends with the statement:
“Good luck getting the kids to the soccer game in a
Volkswagen.”

GOP spokesman Matt Davis said Kerry’s decision to not set
a goal in his latest call for more fuel-efficient vehicles is just
political expediency.

“No one knows what he will do,” Davis said.
“The issue is, Governor Granholm is responsible for the jobs
in this state. … If she’s going to work in conjunction
for a president who’s endorsed in the past … higher
Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency standards of 36 miles per gallon,
she needs to be called on that.”

But Mark Brewer, Michigan Democratic Party executive director,
said President Bush has proved a greater threat to Michigan’s
economy, with 145,000 manufacturing jobs lost since Bush took
office.

“The GOP would like to use CAFE as a smoke screen to hide
their dismal economic record. Unfortunately for them, the people of
Michigan are much smarter than that,” Brewer said in a
statement.

“While Betsy DeVos attempts to scare Michiganders with her
60 senseless seconds, Ford Motor Co. announced yesterday that they
have officially kicked off production of a hybrid version of the
Escape SUV — showing that America can do better and that the
autos of the 21st century can be made in Michigan, despite GOP
attempts to limit innovation,” Brewer added.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat who has staunchly
defended the auto industry and fought efforts to raise
fuel-efficiency standards, praised Kerry’s plan Friday during
a conference call with reporters.

“I’m particularly pleased to see that Senator Kerry
is holding out his hands to the industry,” Dingell said.
“He’s committed to not losing jobs in the auto industry
or Midwest.”

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