Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, has adopted a new mantra in recent months, one he thinks will help deliver Michigan’s highly sought after 17 electoral votes to Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the upcoming presidential election.

“If you like what Jennifer Granholm has done for Michigan,” he says, “you’re going to love what Barack Obama is going to do to America.”

Anuzis has two goals with his oft-recited slogan. First, he aims to directly tie Michigan’s economic woes — among them, the nation’s highest unemployment rate and a continual exodus of skilled workers commonly referred to as the “brain drain” — to the governorship of Jennifer Granholm.

He also hopes Michiganders will think an Obama presidency would hurt the national economy to the extent that Granholm has, as he says, hurt Michigan’s economy.

Though Democrats have balked at Anuzis’s blame of Granholm, noting that the Michigan Senate has had a Republican majority throughout her time in office, Anuzis said he thinks the correlations work.

“I believe that we can say this to people in Michigan,” he said. “We can draw a correlation, saying, ‘Look at Jennifer Granholm: It’s the same Harvard education, the same liberal policies’” as Obama.

Elizabeth Kerr, spokeswoman for the Michigan Democratic Party, insisted that Anuzis’s are “completely false.”

She attributed the state’s economic problems not to Granholm’s policies but to trade agreements and policies enacted by the Bush administration that have sent Michigan jobs to countries like Mexico.

“George Bush’s administration has completely failed (Michigan’s) infrastructure,” Kerr said. “Their trade agreements are unfair — they totally benefit the big CEOs and do nothing to help the workers.”

Kerr said she doesn’t think voters will equate Michigan’s problems directly with Granholm, or that Obama will hurt the national economy.

“The voters already understand it’s failed federal government policies that put Michigan in this downward economic spiral,” Kerr said.

The next step, she added, “is stressing that McCain will bring four more years of George Bush. And once voters see his record as it really is, I think that they’ll understand that.”

Anuzis’s attempt to link Granholm and Obama will likely be just one of many tactics employed by both parties in what will be a fiercely contested presidential race.

Though Democratic candidates have won the state in the previous four presidential elections, Michigan is hardly a given this year for Obama, as numerous polls have shown the two presidential candidates separated by just a few points.

Anuzis said he thinks those undecided voters are starting to believe in his new message.

“I think that when you can relate it to something local,” he said, “when people feel the unemployment, see what’s happening and if we can say Barack Obama is promising more of the same, I think you’re going to see people start nodding their heads and saying, ‘This makes sense.’”

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