Bernero, Snyder Square Off in Only Debate

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

WIXOM, Mich. (AP) -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero on Sunday accused Republican Rick Snyder of being an investor in a high-tech company that opened a new office in China this summer, questioning whether the Ann Arbor businessman is really creating jobs in Michigan or just overseas.

"My opponent has sent hundreds of job overseas," the Lansing mayor said in the only debate between the two candidates. "The workers, they had the chance to stand in the unemployment line. What did you give up?"

Snyder said Bernero was just flinging mud.

"I'm a positive person, and unfortunately we've had too many negative comments," Snyder said. His campaign produced a release from Discera Inc. President and CEO Bruce Diamond that said the company's China office employs five people and that none of those were jobs eliminated in the United States.

Both candidates wore dark suits, white shirts and blue ties. Bernero wore a flag pin on his lapel, while Snyder wore a pink ribbon, showing he supports the fight against breast cancer. Snyder's wife, Sue, is a breast cancer survivor.

A new News 10 poll released Sunday showed Snyder with a 20-point lead just three weeks before the Nov. 2 election. Bernero tried to use the debate to narrow the gap by making Snyder look like a businessman who has become personally wealthy while caring little about workers at the companies he has run or invested in.

Snyder tried to paint Bernero as a "traditional politician" who won't make the changes necessary to lower Michigan's 13.1 percent unemployment jobs or ending the political partisanship and divisiveness in Lansing.

Snyder, Bernero and a trio of third-party candidates are running on Nov. 2 to succeed Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who can't run again because of term limits.

Bernero ran an underfunded and largely invisible campaign during the Democratic primary. The Lansing mayor beat House Speaker Andy Dillon handily but came out of the primary still largely unknown.

Snyder put $6.1 million of his own money into his primary race in which he bested four more conservative opponents. He promotes himself as "one tough nerd."

The hourlong debate took place at the Detroit Public Television studio. Debate sponsors and media watched on a large screen in a nearby room.

Two editorial page editors asked questions, Nolan Finley of The Detroit News and Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press. The Center for Michigan, a nonpartisan group based in Washtenaw County, hosted the debate.


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