The Mackinac Policy Conference is supposed to be about getting business leaders and elected officials together to talk about the policy issues of the day. But there’s another group that’s always at the conference as well: consultants, lobbyists, and public relations types.
John Truscott and Kelly Rossman are the principals of the bipartisan PR firm Truscott Rossman. They are also two highly respected political onlookers here in Michigan. Truscott and Rossman join WDET’s Stephen Henderson from the Mackinac Policy Conference to talk about the upcoming presidential election, as well as preview the 2018 gubernatorial election.
Truscott, a Republican, says most GOP supporters can rally around Trump in November, at the very least to avoid a Hillary Clinton presidency.
“I think the one saving grace is that everybody on the Republican side thinks that Hillary Clinton is worse (than Donald Trump),” says Truscott. He says many Republicans believe Trump will “even out” and stop saying such bombastic things between now and November. Although, “You can’t take those back, either,” he says.
Rossman, a Democrat, says she’s appalled by many of the things Trump is saying on the campaign trail.
“I get that this is, as Kathleen Parker says, the election of our disaffection, that neither party is in love with its candidate,” she says. ”But I would much rather go with someone that has the depth and breadth of experience that Hillary Clinton has, that has definitely made mistakes - no doubt about it - but at least she’s predictable.”
The two can agree on at least one thing - that the 2018 election season is already in full swing. They say there are no surprises so far about who is eyeing a run for governor in Michigan.
“The people in it have been assumed to be in it for a long time,” says Truscott, citing names such as Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on the Republican side. However, he says one person floated for governor early on seems to be uninterested. He says U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, who is leaving Congress to run for Macomb County public works commissioner, likely won’t seek the governor’s office in 2018.
“I think we can only assume that,” he says. ”She’s got her hands full running for that race and I think she’s got a really good shot at winning it.”
On the Democratic side, Rossman says she’s excited about the people who are considering a run for governor, including U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) and former state Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing).
“I think we’ve got great options,” she says, noting that Democrats have history on their side for winning back the governor’s seat after eight years of a Republican administration. “It is Michigan’s history that we turn it over every two terms.”
To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.