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Posted on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

Not only is Rick Snyder a nerd, he's also a wimp, says Virg Bernero

By Ryan J. Stanton


Michigan gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero waits his turn to speak Sunday at a meeting of the College Democrats at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He said not only is Rick Snyder a 'nerd,' he's also a 'wimp' for not wanting to debate him.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Michigan gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero went on the attack against his Republican opponent on Sunday in Ann Arbor, calling Rick Snyder a "wimp" for backing out of debates.

"You know, he's refused to debate," Bernero told a crowd of about 100 people gathered inside the Michigan Union. "Apparently not only is he a nerd, but a wimp."

Bernero arrived on campus mid-afternoon to address the College Democrats at the University of Michigan — about an hour after a news conference in Detroit where he demanded that Snyder, the self-professed "tough nerd," live up to his reputation and engage him in debate.


Bernero talked about his record as a county commissioner, state representative, state senator and mayor of Lansing on Sunday. His opponent is seeking his first political office.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Snyder, an Ann Arbor venture capitalist, unilaterally ended debate negotiations between the two campaigns on Friday. Bernero called that a "slap in the face" to Michigan voters who want to compare the two candidates side-by-side.

Bernero, an energetic speaker who political experts say stands to gain more from going head-to-head with his opponent, had called for eight televised debates. Snyder wanted three. 

Bernero's campaign announced on Friday that he had agreed to most of Snyder’s debate terms, and three debates would happen. But then Snyder backed out entirely.

Snyder said on Sunday negotiations failed in part because Bernero released the debate terms to the media before they were agreed upon. “I said enough of this, and we made our final best offer, and it was turned down,” Snyder told the Detroit Free Press.

Bernero is now calling on local television stations across the state to set up debates and invite both candidates. Snyder has yet to express any interest.

Addressing a crowd of mostly U-M students in Ann Arbor, Bernero talked about the differences between himself and Snyder — with a Democrats-versus-Republicans theme. He placed emphasis on his track record of working in government, noting that he and his running mate, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, make up the state's first two-mayor ticket.

"We get it. We're on the front lines," Bernero said. "We're the ones that make sure that the 911 calls get answered, that the potholes get filled, that the garbage gets picked up. You know, we're the ones that have to deal with the home foreclosures."

Bernero spoke of investing in cities like Detroit, which he called "the face of Michigan." He said the urban cities need to be the "hub of the wheel" instead of the "hole of the doughnut."

On that same note, Bernero offered specifics about his strategy to help grow and diversify the state's economy in the coming years.

"We need green enterprise zones to reuse those old sites, those old facilities," he said. "We need foreign investment zones ... to encourage foreign investment dollars here instead of having just our jobs go overseas — to actually invite and encourage foreign investment in this country. We have some tools available that we haven't used, so we're going to do that."

Access to capital is another challenge, Bernero said.

"There's a lot of people that have great ideas right now, that have great businesses now that could expand, but they cannot get a loan because Wall Street has redlined Michigan," he said. "So I have a proposal for a state bank. One other state in the union has done it: North Dakota. It puts $30 million a year into state coffers in addition to the economic activity that it stimulates. So there are things we can do right now, and we must."

Bernero called Michigan "ground zero" in the fight for the American Dream. He said he would work with President Barack Obama and Congress to preserve manufacturing jobs.

"I'm going to be pushing for fair trade instead of free trade because it matters," he said. "All we're asking for is a level playing field. If we get a level playing field, we win. We have the most productive workers in the world. Look at the Detroit Three. They're back on top, according to JD Power. We knew what we were capable of. The Republicans said, 'Let them die on the vine.'"

Talking about what prompted him to run for governor, Bernero said he reached his decision several months ago after reading the plans put out by Snyder and other Republicans.

"I studied their plans and I said, 'My goodness, I can write a better plan than this. Like, in one night, I can write a better plan than this,'" he said.

Bernero criticized Snyder's viewpoint on manufacturing.


U.S. Congressman John Dingell, D-Dearborn, addressed the crowd before Bernero spoke on Sunday. Dingell praised Bernero, giving him credit for not shipping jobs overseas, which he said is more than Rick Snyder can say.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"We're not giving up on advanced manufacturing," Bernero said. "We're a manufacturing state. In fact, the Midwest, we're still heavily dependent on manufacturing. My opponent says, manufacturing, 'it's time to put that to bed.' That's a term he used — 'put that to bed and move on.' Think about that for a minute because you guys are smart. Move on from manufacturing, as though manufacturing is something archaic? That's what he wants people to believe."

Bernero acknowledged he's 20 points behind Snyder in the polls right now, but said the only poll that matters is on Election Day — and he already overcame similar odds to win in the primary. Bernero said he believes voters will change their minds when they learn about his record.

"As mayor, I've done it," he said.

U.S. Congressman John Dingell, D-Dearborn, and state Sen. Glenn Anderson, D-Westland, also made appearances at Sunday's meeting. Both are seeking reelection and stressed the importance of fighting for their party's representation in Lansing and Washington, D.C.

"We are only four seats away from taking the majority in the Michigan Senate," Anderson noted. "And you don't know how painful that is to go in there every day and see the Republicans in control, stopping everything that would make a difference to everybody in this room, and we need to change that. They've been in control for, I believe, 26 years."

Dingell blamed the nation's ongoing economic problems on the Republicans, suggesting they're the ones who should take responsibility for the depression inherited by Obama.

"They left President Obama two wars, they left President Obama a depression, and they left President Obama an economic downturn and a deficit of $1.3 trillion," Dingell said. "And now they're a little like the fella who blamed the fire department for the fire that they were putting out, or like the rooster that bragged about his crowing, which he said made the sun rise."

Bernero also took a few shots at the GOP. He recalled the story of how he first realized he was a Democrat, back in the fifth grade when his teacher was writing on the chalkboard.

"It was our introduction to political parties and she wrote, 'Democrats for the working person,' and she put, 'Republicans for the rich.' I thought, 'Well, we're not rich, and my dad does work hard. I must be a Democrat,'" Bernero said with a laugh.

"You can say, 'Well, that's very simplistic,' on one end," he acknowledged. "But then again, I'm 46 years old, I'm running for governor, I've been a county commissioner, state rep, state senator, mayor ... and from what I can see, she was right on."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 11:48 p.m.

This is what I don't understand about granholms theory on business taxes. She gives tax breaks to the movie industry, and I can tell you we have alot more movies being filmed here than ever before. Congrats, that seemed to work. So why not drop taxes for companies that are already here so that they stay? The fact is that companies do not pay taxes. It becomes part of their cost structure and they calculate it into the sales price of whatever they are selling. So the consumer pays the business taxes. Solution: remove business taxes and increase the sales tax to make up the difference. Since we pay it anyway, our out of pocket money would not be any different. Do you know why Dems want to tax business and not people? Because then the voters are not aware of how much actually pay in taxes. If they want more money simply take it from businesses and make them get it from the people, the people are then mad at businesses for raising prices and not the government. If we as consumers knew how much more everything costs to cover business taxes we would revolt. Not only is this hiding taxes, it hits the poor worse than anyone, because the poor are forced to spend almost all of their money to buy consumer goods. As for a business person running the state? Who better to understand what it would take to bring in new business AND keep the ones that are still here?

Eric P

Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

""" Bernero also took a few shots at the GOP. He recalled the story of how he first realized he was a Democrat, back in the fifth grade when his teacher was writing on the chalkboard. "It was our introduction to political parties and she wrote, 'Democrats for the working person,' and she put, 'Republicans for the rich.' I thought, 'Well, we're not rich, and my dad does work hard. I must be a Democrat,'" Bernero said with a laugh.""" Wow to think someone would admit that they got their politics from something so simplistic--- good thing the teacher (who obviously had an agenda) did write "well historically the Republicans were abolitionist and the Democrats were pro-slavery" We might have a totally different Governors race on our hands.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 8:25 p.m.

Bernero agreed to everything other than tape delay of the debate. Tell me why Snyder wants tape delay? Easy, to get his mistakes fixed before it actually shown. A common tactic of a person not familiar with the issues. How about random people ask Rick about any number of questions. He knows NOTHING about them. How many people would hire somebody with no experience in a field to run that business? Maybe Gateway should have hired a guy who never used a computer in his life. If your company does that, it will end up exactly like Gateway (failed and foreign owned)


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 4:13 p.m.

I do not see Bernero with any reasonble shot at winning since he needs a substantial percentage of the outstate vote and to win big in Metro Detroit, as Jennifer Granholm did in two elections. Don't underestimate Rick Snyder. His cash and connections to Ron Weiser made him unbeatable in the GOP primary when he was a virtual unknown at the end of last year. Rick Snyder has been a longtime CEO of Ardesta, where Marcia Higgins previously worked. Ann Arborites should embrace Snyder and his moderate values so he can help redirect state tax dollars to Tree Town. I look forward to Michigan government being controlled and influenced by two successful Ann Arbor residents such as Snyder and Weiser.

Roger Roth

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 1 p.m.

Couple of things: Is it true that if you ran a company, then you are qualified to run a government? If you have tons of people in Asia who can and who want to do your job and do it for pennies on your dollar and your gov. supports companies outsourcing manufacturing jobs, how is it that a candidate can promise to work to increase manufacturing jobs in your state? Doesn't add up in my book. Unless they're going to be minimum wage. "Green jobs, you say?" China is already a world leader in green mnfg. jobs. I think we're doomed. If you work in manufacturing, consider moving to a place where you can work and live on about a third of what it takes in the US, i.e., outsource yourself. I think politicians are all talking through their hats. I liked Bernero's advocacy for the working class. But now I think he's just like the rest of them. We middle class working people had better hope Michael Anthony shows up at our door with that fat, million-dollar check. (60's TV) Or, learn to play tennis so we can cash in on the $1.7 million first place money at the US Open.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

@ mike from saline, Persistency is a fool's best asset. I believe this board is full of unemployed Republicans? Most of the real negative comments it appears, e.g pro-Snyder commentary is from outside of A2, so there is no point to me being on the board any longer. Bless you all.

mike from saline

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 7:46 p.m.

@Rasputin, Democrats always need a good exuse for losing. Buying the election seems to be the one they've [or at least, you] have settled on this time. One more you have any idea what a neocon is? or do you just like saying it? can you define it? A little hint, it's got nothing to do with State Government! Neocons are a sub-group of conservatives who believe in using American power [both military, and eccomomic], to influence events around the globe. It's about foreign policy!! There's an old saying; "Its better to remain silent, and be perceived a fool, than open your mouth, and remove all doubt.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

Another point I'd like to make regarding the whole Rick "spin machine" Snyder, back in 2000 Al Gore ran and nearly defeated Bush light, but didn't quite make it. Besides the "chads" another reason why Gore didn't get a clear majority of votes was because he was perceived as the "Nerd" going up against the "Frat boy drinking buddy". I think it is amusing that Ricky is trying to portrait himself as a "nerd" when in reality he is a Venture Capitalist trying to buy his way into politics. But hey, such is the life of neocons; they think everything is for sale! Not.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 7:37 a.m.

@ robyn, Because the Republican controlled senate refused to balance the budget and raise taxes, robyn! I will never forgive republicans for victimizing our children's education and using it as a ploy against Democrats. To me, Republicans or the Grinchs of the world only interested in feeding their egos and pocket books. It really is that simple. Remember Engler? He is another one of the many reasons Michigan is STILL hemorrhaging jobs and an educated workforce. Enough with Republicans, they are not the answer.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:15 p.m.

Paul Taylor: What is wrong with being rich? Snyder isn't a silver spooner he earned his wealth. Can Benero make that claim? Seems the Bully used daddy's union ties to create a career where he has never had to make it in the private sector. Who has the silver in theri mouth????????


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:34 p.m.

@ Jay : Exactly - you just said it better and in fewer words.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:22 p.m.

"... Maybe Bernero can debate Granholm and tell us how his administration would differ substantively from hers." This bit of sarcasm makes a pretty decent point, actually, whether unintended or not. Virg Bernero should communicate early and often to voters about how his administration would be assertive and activist in ways that Granholm's generally hasn't been. Not until her final year in office has Granholm shown any sign of consistent leadership, and that's been a substantial part of what drags the statewide Democratic ticket this year, in tandem with the economy. Republican obstruction in the state legislature hasn't been the whole story. In his campaign, Bernero should give heavy emphasis to how the creation of a state-run bank, along with expanded incentives to aid depressed cities, a stronger focus on green industries, and a major tax overhaul — among other policies and proposals — will represent a break from what both political parties have been doing (or not doing) over the years.

Jay Thomas

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 4:23 p.m.

@Gene: Then you would be misinterpreting my meaning... it looks deliberately (which should be perfectly clear IF YOU'VE READ THE ARTICLE which I quoted). And this story is about Michigan and Michigan politics -- not Texas. Good grief. The public schools are for everyone and as such liberals, conservatives and everyone else who is teaching need to respect boundaries. Parents who are not liberals do not have to suffer their children being spoon fed the talking points of the Democratic party simply because they cannot afford to send them to a private school. Bernero's 5th grade teacher had no business telling her class that Democrats are for working people and Republicans for the rich ---> on public property... on the public's dime. Even if you think it makes her the teacher of the year. Keep your politics to yourself when it comes to everyone's children. As a public school teacher you don't have the right to preach your politics to a captive audience. It's not a veiled attack on teachers but a statement of fact.

Paul Taylor

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

To all the above folks having a hard time with Bernero's "bullying" tactics: THIS IS POLITICS. These guys are not running for First Bestest Friend. I want to see how they fair one-on-one. I want to know that Snyder has the courage of his convictions, and that he can articulate this vague "plan" he has for "reinventing" Michigan. Could I read his website? Sure. But I surely want to know that the man can make his arguments up-front, without crib notes, and in public view. Now, while I tend to lean towards the Democrats, it's Snyder's avoidance of public scrutiny that really, truly offends me. And, as someone who was once, and still considers himself to be, a 'nerd,' I am offended at Snyder's running as one. What he appears to be is a yet-another rich guy who is running from behind a screen of affability, fearful above all of the common folk seeing the man behind the curtain! A true NERD would man up and debate, not hide behind a bought-and-paid for public relations flak screen.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:54 p.m.

eclectablog: Suggest you research Snyder a little more. He comes from a modest background and is self made. Bernero is the silver spooner as daddy led him into politics with his union connections. The days of the union is past and is nothing but a monopoly on labor.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

As a child I learned a simple rhyme starting with Sticks and Stones. I am surprised with the tone of people here. Michigan needs help, not in fighting and name calling. I would love to see a set of debates, but I would rather that a set of written questions be given to both candidates and we get detailed answers. Debates are all about TV, not about strategic thinking. Michigan does not need an actor or a TV star, we need a strategic thinker. So far in crawling the available Gateway documents and the Lan sing City governments, I am still wondering if either candidate is worth voting for. Nothing sticks out for either one as being the person to help Michigan climb out of a hole. I do know that if this election gets too nasty, that it will be very difficult to work across the aisle in Lansing and that is exactly what it will take to fix Michigan. The task will be an unhappy one and everyone will end up short of what they want. -Which candidate can reach compromise with the other party? -Which candidate has vision? -Which candidate can go to Washington and get our taxes sent home, right now we are still a net contributor to the Federal budget? -Which candidate can convince companies to come to Michigan or expand here? I am still waiting to find out.

Gene Alloway

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:31 p.m.

@robyn and jay- "Public schools on the other hand are not really a 'parental choice' and thus they should accomodate A) all aspects of political and/or religious ideals - or none at all." You also agreed when Jay said that: "It doesn't surprise me that public school teachers indoctrinate their students. It should be illegal however." The trick is defining religion, politics and education with far-right, now main-stream Republicans (see the recent Texas School book massacre). They cast scientific facts and non-Christian religions under the bus in public schools - no birth control discussions, no discussion of evolution without intelligent design (already shown to NOT be science in a court of law) and more. As for all other religions having the same options - in a perfect US that is true. But the right wing, backed by a more extreme Republican party, don't even want holy places built for other religions than Christianity. How would a parents at a public school in Tennessee feel if they had to accommodate a Muslim prayer room? A remark singling out Public school teachers as those who indoctrinate is simply a veiled attack on public schools and public teachers. As for not having a choice to go to public schools - you said yourself - private schools exist. If you don't like public schools, I find it hard to believe there are not other options. And I don't want teachers just to report the facts. There are important conclusions that arise from the best scientific facts and data. Like abstinence does not work. Like global warming exists. Like evolution does occur, using numerous mechanisms, and that yes, the Republican party has a century old tradition siding with monied power, while Democrats have staked their effort on programs for the working poor and middle class. Maybe the teacher could have said it differently, but they were essentially correct.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

I bet he didn't want to use the word "wimp", but settled... Snyder should debate. I wouldn't feel comfortable voting for someone who just makes speeches. I don't even know what he stands for beyond the usual self claimed that he creates jobs. How conservative is this guy? Will he accept federal money? Does he support same sex marriages? Is he pro-choice? Does he support no child left behind? Does he agree with Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin?


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 2:53 p.m.

@InsideTheHall: Really? Because to me and a lot of folks I have spoken with, this looks lime Snyder playing role of the petulant rich-kid brat who says, "We do it MY way or I'm taking my ball and going HOME!" I can almost see him stamping his little feet. By the, "union puppet masters"? You're ignorance at how the unions in this country have benefitted nearly every middle class American is showing. You should wear a slip.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 2:17 p.m.

The adult Bully Bernero is acting like the little bully on the play ground who is not getting his way. Snyder will debate but not be bullied by Bernero on the terms and conditions of the debate format, timing, and number. This tactic is right out of the UAW political playbook when posturing at the bargaining table. You can almost see the strings on Bernero as his union puppet masters craft his every move.

Stephen Landes

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

It seems quite possible to me that all Mr. Bernero has to talk about is the debate "plan". Once the all too public negotiations between candidates ends Mr. Bernero has nothing to talk about. It is in his interest to keep the debate about the debates going as long as possible; this keeps his name in the news without him having to explain what his divisive policies will do to Michigan. Detailed questioning expecting detailed answers just doesn't happen in a debate -- time is too short and questions too many.

mike from saline

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

Snyder seems to be running out the clock. The reason he's running out the clock is, Because he CAN! Smart move! Benero seems to be desperate. The reason he seems desperate is, because he IS [27 points behind]! It's the only thing he has left!

Wolverine Fan

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

Ryan Stanton - are you paid by Bernaro's campaign? this is the latest example of the biased, one-sided "news" article I've long come to expect from the Ann Arbor News.. could you be more biased?


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 1:50 p.m.

Maybe Bernero can debate Granholm and tell us how his administration would differ substantively from hers.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 1:31 p.m.

On the contrary demistified, I am disappointed that there will be no debates. I think it's a good way to see how a candidate thinks on the feet so to speak. It also opens both candidates to having to expound on statements and clarify exactly what their positions are on specific issues. Going to a townhall meeting is all well and good - but the microphone is being pretty much controlled by the candidate - there is no real opportunity to really get to the heart of the issues. It's like a long political ad for the candidate participating in the townhall meeting. As long as the voters seem to agree with what I'm saying - I'll just continue talking... No real substance in that.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 12:56 p.m.

A sizable majority of the posts here are negative campaigning by Snyder supporters, accusing Bernero of negative campaigning. The pot calling the kettle black.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.

Wow, Could Snyder have picked a better person to run against?


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

I have a question for all you Democrats supporting Snyder: Why would you vote for a Republican that takes your vote for granted? Because that's just what he is doing with his refusal to negotiate in good faith with the Bernero campaign to make these debates happen. He's counting on your support and clearly doesn't feel the need to earn it by engaging in debates that we all count on to make an informed decision. Being taken for granted by a Reoublican and you're still voting for him? Hmmm...


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

@ rasputin: Nice. Accusations of not caring about the education of children based upon.... Speculation that YOU seem to know what other people think and the assumption that anyone who is not aligned with your particular political views is a republican? There is no basis what so ever that people who support any particular candidate for whatever reasons they have chosen to support that candidate fall under some all bad things encompassing label of your own determination. Perhaps some people wander why Governor Granholm found it necessary to cut school budgets but not state employee budgets? Or maybe even cut out special projects that were not necessary or needed because the education of our children should be priority? This state has held our children hostage to it's constant demands that the children will suffer if we don't agree to pay more money - but in the mean time - the money is being spent elsewhere! I'm sorry - but that's extortion! My kids are not political fodder to be used by Granholm or any other politician to extract more money from me! And you playing THAT card is just as reckless and spiteful!


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

... How can Snyder "buy" the election? Simple. He spends millions more of his personal fortune to dominate the airwaves. Debates provide a level playing field...." Correct. Widely viewed debates could definitely interfere with the proper and legal purchase of the Michigan governor's chair. With his considerable wealth, Rick Snyder can afford to become his very own special interest. Of course, having strong interests in your corner doesn't guarantee victory in November, but a politician can only rarely win without such backing. In 1992, Ross Perot used enormous personal funds to promote his views on the country and the world in that year's presidential contest. He didn't win, of course, but his wealth was essential to propelling him into televised debates side-by-side with Clinton and Bush, and then garnering him 19% of the vote nationally. Without his great fortune, Perot couldn't have run for dog catcher. Right now, keeping public attention away from the governor's race works to Snyder's benefit. If and when his lead in the polls drops down to 5-10%, we'll see if he changes his mind and discovers an enthusiasm for public debate. Not to mention that in any one-on-one meeting between the two, Snyder is all but guaranteed do poorly unless the format is highly restrictive. Should an encounter with Virg Bernero amount to little more than a joint question and answer event held for the benefit of media, that would be safer for him. Plus, there are big bullies in Michigan who will work for the Snyder campaign (with some reluctance, admittedly). These will prominently include the Mackinac Center, cheerleaders for the abandonment of blue collar workers, and the Grand Rapids-based GLEP, a manufacturer of intelligent design.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

Are these big bad bully attacks from Virg outright lies? I don't think so. If these were lies, I can see a problem, but bringing out differences between candidates makes sense to me. I don't see any Rush Limbaugh/Ann Coulter outright lies here. Every time Virg says anything, check


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:51 a.m.

Based on the feedback on this board, we have a lot of sensitive Republicans commenting? Where were you all when K-12 education was cut? When Gov. Granholm needed your help and your bi-partisanship to assist our state in turning the corner on the worst ever economic times? Holed up in front of your Geometry books being nerdy? Doubt it. You republicans could care less about folks and I hate to disappoint you, but he with the most still dies like everyone else.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

@ dres: I think it had more to do with what was going on within the GOP... And still is in many of the races. There has been a big shake-up within the GOP with candidates being supported by 'outside' groups that are pushing change upon the GOP (which the GOP isn't liking a whole lot). I got the distinct impression that Snyder was not the 'choice' of the GOP here in Michigan. The primaries really made it apparent who their 'golden children' were - and in many of those cases - the party 'pets' didn't win the nomination. Now - I KNOW there will be Democrats that are going to jump all over this like buzzards on a garbage scow - but it reflects a huge shift in the GOP, it's no longer 'business as usual' - these outside groups figured out that they couldn't change the party from the outside - so they became part of the party to change it from the inside. This has been a bit frightening for the old GOP gang, and there has been backlash toward GOP candidates during the primaries. I think Snyder made a smart move by NOT attending a debate at that time. How does it help a party to have the candidates that are vieing to respresent that party tearing eachother up? Also it would undermine the candidate to be representing a party that pretty much said they didn't want THAT candidate. Best to stay out of it and keep your integrity intact for the REAL race.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

@ gene : You said: Interesting that some posts are against "teacher indoctrination". I take it to mean that they are against religious schools, and school prayer, and other non-educational doctrinal aspects in schools across the nation. I think you're grapsing for straws that do not exist. PRIVATE schools with a specific religious ideology are just that - private. A parent makes a choice to send their child to a school which they know will teach their children religious study. If a parent does not want their child 'indoctrinated' with those beliefs - they do not have to send their child to that school. Public schools on the other hand are not really a 'parental choice' and thus they should accomodate A) all aspects of political and/or religious ideals - or none at all. It's a fact that teachers have their own personal opinions about many issues, however - they should remain neutral in the classroom. Both sides of the coin should be examined - however, no teacher should feel obligated or compelled to TELL the student which side of the coin is better than the other. As for religion - if one religious group is given special accomodations for their religion, then all groups must be equally recognized. There should be no indication or perception that one religion is more acceptable or 'special' than any other - or that being non-religious is somehow 'wrong'.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

Bernero is the one who refused to respond to the invitation - that was originally offered by Snyder. He kept changing the agreements - Snyder would accept and then Bernero would demand a new change. You can only negotiate for so long before you have to set a limit. Snyder set a limit and Bernero couldn't or wouldn't step up and deal. Snyder has been open about everything that has transpired - even during the negotiations, but suddenly Bernero makes statements to the contrary and he's Mr. Up-front and Honest? I don't think so. I was not supporting either candidate - I was rather disappointed that there would be no debates - I had made sure to stay informed about both candidates and any possibility that they would have a public debate so that I could attend. The information I found did show Bernero as remiss for making constant demands and then changing those demands each time Snyder aquiesced to those demands. The fact that Snyder continued to accomodate Bernero's demands made me question his ability to lead and not be pushed around or manipulated. However - he did draw the line and expected Bernero to step up and be satisfied with the changes that were made to accomodate him. But he didn't. Bernero can say whatever he wants to say - but the facts are available to anyone who cares enough to do a bit of research. Personally - I beleive that everryone should do their 'homework' on every candidate and not take what they say at face value.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:17 a.m.

All, Running a government is very different then running a business. What kills me is if you were sick you would want the best doctors and you may get a second opinion. Why would we expect less out of our government. These people make decisions that impact our daily lives. I would also like to remind you all of the 2000 election, the one where Spencer Abraham was ahead by double digits and lost it at the end. His site says it was due to negative ads, but I know he dished out some too. In the end when people vote they do not always vote for who they told the pollster they would vote for.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:15 a.m.

Rick Snyder also skipped a GOP primary debate: (Note that link takes you to Snyder's site, so it is pro-Snyder.) Sounds like he isn't into the debate thing, and he will use whatever excuse he can to avoid them. While the other candidates were putting themselves on the line, he chickened out. He knows he has a lot to lose in a debate, and is just skipping them with any excuse he can find. I'm not sure why I'd vote for someone who is so "safe" at a time when we need risk-takers and leaders. And anyway, complaining that the terms of the debates were released early to the media is a little silly. What difference does it make anyway, what the rules are? When is the last time the two candidates for governor did not have at least one substantive debate for voters? I'm not sure I'd call Snyder a wimp, but refusing to debate Republicans and Democrats alike is not encouraging. How is he going to handle himself as governor if he refuses to present himself to the state before the election?

Gene Alloway

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:54 a.m.

Interesting that some posts are against "teacher indoctrination". I take it to mean that they are against religious schools, and school prayer, and other non-educational doctrinal aspects in schools across the nation.

Gene Alloway

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:52 a.m.

In answer to Robyn, and to give the other side of the debate story: This is a press release from Bernero: "(Lansing, MI) Rick Snyder announced today that he is refusing to engage in debates with his opponent gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero. Rick Snyder unilaterally called off debates over two minor details, denying Michigan voters the chance to compare the two candidates side-by-side. "It's a slap in the face not to me, but to Michigan voters," Bernero said. "A person who wants to be governor should be willing to publicly discuss his record and his views. I am ready to stand before voters and answer tough questions about my plan anytime." "What is Rick Snyder afraid of?" said Cullen Schwarz, Bernero campaign spokesman. "Snyder is hiding from the media and voters, figuring he can buy the election with prepackaged ads so he won't have to answer questions about his record." Bernero's campaign originally asked for eight widely viewed debates throughout the state to allow as many Michigan residents as possible the chance to hear ideas from each of the candidates and compare their plans for themselves. After weeks of negotiations, Snyder offered a final proposal at 11:30 a.m. today and demanded the Bernero campaign respond by 4 p.m. or there would be no debates. Snyder's final proposal looked much like his first, with only three debates. The proposal insisted the debates by hosted by moderators chosen by the Snyder campaign. Snyder's proposal also included a debate in Detroit, which would be held at noon with no live audience. "We accepted 99 percent of what they wanted, all we asked for in return was neutral moderators and to have the debates at night instead of the middle of the day so people could see them," Schwarz said. "This is typical political game playing at its worst. If Mr. Snyder decides he wants to participate in the democratic process after all, we are ready to talk anytime." Bernero officially accepted the three debates proposed by the Snyder campaign, offering only two minor modifications: one, that Snyders campaign not be allowed to unilaterally dictate to members of the media who will serve as debate panelists, as the Snyder campaigns proposal does; two, that the third debate hosted by the Detroit Economic Club be held in the evening and broadcast live. The DEC has already agreed to host a debate in the evening. The Bernero campaign will continue to pursue public debates with the Snyder campaign before the Nov. 2 General Election."

Gene Alloway

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

My apologies on misspelling Bernero's name in the previous post.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

@ Jay Thomas: What I think is also very telling about that remark is that he has not 'matured' politically since he was in 5th grade. I know that I veiwed things far differently when I was a child than when I was a young adult, my ideology has changed and matured as my life has changed. The fact that he still holds an indoctrinated ideal that he has carried with him for so many years is a bit odd...

Jay Thomas

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:41 a.m.

Bernero also took a few shots at the GOP. He recalled the story of how he first realized he was a Democrat, back in the fifth grade when his teacher was writing on the chalkboard. "It was our introduction to political parties and she wrote, 'Democrats for the working person,' and she put, 'Republicans for the rich.' I thought, 'Well, we're not rich, and my dad does work hard. I must be a Democrat,'" Bernero said with a laugh. It doesn't surprise me that public school teachers indoctrinate their students. It should be illegal however.

Gene Alloway

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

Debates, name calling, and ideas. Snyder backed out of the 3 debates because Bernaro announced it too soon. Not a very good reason, unless you wanted control and that control meant you did not want to debate your opponent anyway. Sure, you are ahead in the polls, but as a voter, if a candidate cannot meet another in a debate and show me that his ideas have merit under an opponents pressure, that's a black mark for any candidate, regardless of the party. Debate is a core tenet of democratic ideals. Bernaro called Snyder names, which seems to make him a bully. Well, Snyder called himself a nerd, so that's not name calling. And as for wimp, well, Snyder backed down from an important political match over some minor point of protocol. Don't know if that makes him a wimp, but it sure doesn't show any political courage and toughness, just political maneuvering. Politics are a contact sport - if you can't debate, if you can't take the rough and tumble, how will you handle tough problems in Lansing? Ideas. In the comments, it looks like folks want Snyder to reverse things Dems have done. However, Show me how that helps. Show me that we weren't losing jobs under Engler. As someone pointed out, we already have less of a tax burden now than under Engler. How'se that working out?As for Value for Money Budgeting - sounds good, but also sounds like TQM and a dozen other past business schemes that promise much and deliver little. What it means is Private Public partnerships - a fancy word for more outsourcing for government, which never has been a given win for state budgets. And guess what? Washington state budget STILL has a budget deficit of over 2 billion, and business organizations pushing a state income tax ( they don't have one). Yet Snyder says his plan is greatly based from Washington State because the closed their deficit gap. So - here we have a business guy pushing an outsourcing program based on a system that simply didn't do what he says it did. Not a new idea, and not an accurate one. Bernaro? Sounds like he is trying to build on the strengths we have, instead of lofty sounding budgetary maneuverings we've tried before. He's carrot and stick - reward businesses large and small that create jobs, not export them. Increase green technologies, including energy on land in the state lying fallow. He'll not reward outsourcers. And for me, the bottom line - Bernaro's done stuff like this. He's been an executive facing long term political issues, budgets, jobs, infrastructure etc. He's not a venture capitalist, using money to jump into a business, generate profit as quickly as possible, then jump out, uncaring of the long term. We certainly need investors but until folks realize not every business idea works in public organizations (and vice versa) then we'll keep having amateurs trying to run government for the short term only, instead of creating long term strength. And no, I don't work for Bernaro. I just looked at each candidate's website and policy plans before I wrote this. Maybe more folks should.

sad day

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

my, my, my....maybe Snyder does not want to Bernero's screaming level.Smear is not the answer, nor is the hostility.Snyder you are a true gentleman.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:07 a.m.

about buying an election. I agree with grye, I didn't receive any money for my vote. Bernero would just be more of the same and Dingle needs to retire.

John Q

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:06 a.m.

Snyder claims he's one tough nerd. A few tough words shouldn't hurt the nerd. How about he comes out of hiding and actually debates Benero?


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:49 a.m.

agree with dading, it's one thing to call yourself a nerd. When someone else does it in this tone, mocking it and then calls him a wimp on top of it just makes him sound like a bully.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:46 a.m.

Nice Job! Half a story is better than no story eh? Right after the Primary Snyder sent a letter to Bernero about holding debates in different areas across Michigan so that the voters would have the opportunity to see the debates and possibly participate by submitting questions for the candidates. Virg Bernero kept making last minute changes and missed the deadline. One would have to think that IF debating Snyder was important enough to now come out and call Snyder names - he would have made sure that the negotiations for the debates would not have slipped by a deadline. This is a press release from Snyder: Debate negotiations end without agreement after Bernero campaign refuses to consider reasonable debate proposal by Snyder and demands 11th-hour changes ANN ARBOR, Mich. Debate negotiations between the Rick Snyder and Virg Bernero campaigns have ended without agreement after negotiators for the Lansing mayor refused to accept an offer on the table to hold three televised debates between the candidates. No further negotiations are scheduled. The Snyder campaign had proposed one debate to be held at the Detroit Economic Club at noon and to be re-broadcast on NBC Affiliate WDIV in Detroit with statewide affiliate tie-in; one debate to be broadcast statewide on Public Television and moderated by the non-partisan Center for Michigan; and one more televised event to be held in Northern Michigan. We offered a fair, final proposal with three televised debates with statewide hookup with fair panelists and the Bernero campaign didn't accept it, said Communications Director Bill Nowling. Its unfortunate that the Bernero campaign has turned down this reasonable proposal. This is how the negotiations have gone, just as we think we have an agreement, the Bernero campaign comes back with more last-minute conditions that are not part of the deal. Nowling said the Snyder final offer was delivered to the Bernero camp earlier today after more than two weeks of back and forth negotiations. Instead of accepting the offer on the table, the Bernero campaign insisted on last-minute changes to the proposal. The Snyder campaign had already agreed to modify its debate offer from earlier in the week after the Bernero campaign balked at a proposed debate on statewide radio, insisting that all three debates be televised. Rick wants voters to know where he stands on debates and the status of negotiations with his Democratic opponents team, Nowling said. We put a fair and reasonable debate proposal on the table; Mayor Bernero's campaign chose not only to not accept it, but to make additional demands at the eleventh hour. Nowling said Rick Snyder will continue to talk directly with voters on his Reinvent Michigan Town Hall Tour. Snyder has held 58 town hall meetings across Michigan.

Jay Allen

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

This is NOT a slam post on one candidate or the other. This is merely observations. In all seriousness, what does a 1-on-1 debate do? Seriously, please. 1 candidate says "X" and the other candidate says "Y". It is the SAME thing you can find on the internet. 20-30 years ago before Al Gore gave us the internet, debates were all we had, I agree to a point then. If Virg ole buddy is dumb enough to call a man to his face 1-on-1 a "wimp" IN A DEBATE, then he has lost THAT debate. When you do your own research and decipher what you read, that is getting to the nuts and bolts of who is who and what is what. But in 1-on-1 debates it is very hard to filter out all of the political jargon that is used. The issues are all clouded with rhetoric. Here is what negative ads & comments do. They take the focus off of the real issue and that being what the name caller has to say. If you have nothing new, nothing good, nothing fresh, then you beat up on the other guy. Been this way forever, this is nothing new. The ONLY point I will make politically, Snyder agreed to 3 debates which has been the standard. Thus a good example of the political "word" wrangling that is done. Old virg tries to say that Snyder "refuses" to debate him. Those people who refuse to READ what is being said see the headlines and think that Snyder (in this case) is chicken to debate virg so Snyder must have something to hide. Not the case at all. Now before all the left side extremist jump on me, BOTH parties do it. The left, the right and believe it or not, so does the middle. Again NOTHING new, just virg is the first one in now.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:40 a.m.

Virg Bernero is the second coming of Howard Wolpe.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

They sell there pitch to get in, them when the time comes to the work no one does the work!


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

All of this talk about "buying an election"... Can tell us who has actually spent more so far? My guess would be Bernero. All of those attack ads I have been hearing and seeing can't come cheap. It may seem a bit wimpy on Snyder's part at first, but loudmouths and bullies soon lose relevance and implode when people start to ignore their rants and demands. Like others have said above, I don't think Bernero's attack mode is going to work in this economy and election year. People want plans and details. I would still like to see a debate in hopes that we get more from both candidates. Somehow, I don't think that will happen from either, even if we get a debate or two. I'm afraid that it would be just more attacks from Bernero and more broad brushstrokes from Snyder. I still put more trust in Snyder and a business-like approach rather than more "Politics as Usual" that I think Bernero will give us.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

I can't wait until November! Synder has run a company...Bernero seems to just run his mouth.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

Sounds like a loosers convention of RICH DEMOCRATS!


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:52 a.m.

If I were unsure of which of these two to vote for I think Bernero's negativity would make the decision for me. We don't really need a negative person running a state that needs a positive upswing.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:52 a.m.

Oh, I remember guys like Bernero back in Junior/High School...always picking on the smart/introverted/geeky students. Where are 90% the "Bernero's" now? Fat, balding, do-nothings who sit in front of the TV watching sports and droolingly guffaw at their own supposed-superiority when confronted with anyone who's accomplished anything through intellect instead of brute bullying and lost good-looks.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

While I think Bernero shouldn't call Snyder names (not a great way to win people over!), I do wonder why Snyder backed out of the debates. I would love to see these two debate to find out exactly where each stands and how they conduct themselves.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

Ah Bully Bernero showing his true colors. Surprising it took so long for his fuse to go. Cash: Who is buying an election here? Snyder or the union puppet masters and trial lwayers that are filling the Bernero coffers??????? When will Bernero make an appearance that is not on a college campus or union hall? Why is Bernero afraid to meet real Michiganders????????


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

Virg, I'm pretty far left in my views, and honestly can't recall the last time I voted for any Republican at the state or federal level. Keep these low-ball tactics up though, and that might just change. We don't need this garbage. I've grown rather sick of dirty, non-issue or false-association type of tactics that have seemed so much more prevalent from the right in the last decade or two (though the left has certainly not been guilt free here either). Though it may be nice to see a Democrat with enough cajones to actually stand up and hold their ground, you are stepping far over the line from boldly assertive to offensively and childishly aggressive. I really don't like it. I'd love to choose between you and Snyder (if those are our only options) based on the issues, but I haven't heard any of your plans for the issues we're facing yet. Just a bunch of name calling. Grow up, and speak for yourself, before you speak against your opponent. And when you do speak against your opponent, I would prefer to hear a reasoned argument as to why you believe their approach would be less helpful or more harmful than yours. I really want to know what your plans are, and childishly bashing Snyder really doesn't help.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:09 a.m.

Snyder has his personal fortune, Bernero has the UAW's warchest. Who has the deeper pockets? Bernero's quote from his fifth grade teacher is a good argument for the separation of school and state. I wonder how much the MEA is going to pump into Bernero's campaign? Maybe they're smart enough to not waste their money? I wouldn't want to debate a whiner like Bernero either. Much too irritating.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

This pretend ignorance about what "buying a campaign" means is precious. It's hardly a secret that once can't really compete in a campaign without a lot of money and the more money you have, the better. If Snyder wins, it won't be because anyone really thinks he's a "nerd". Are we all really that nave?

Dan Romanchik

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

Think about it. If you were ahead by 20+ percentage points, would you agree to eight debates? That's playing right into your opponents' hand. Bernero might gain a few points by calling Snyder cowardly, but he's not going to sway over 20% of the electorate. All this brouhaha over the number of debates and the amount of his own money that Snyder's putting into this election assumes that the electorate isn't smart enough to make up their own minds about who's best for the state based on the material that is currently available. If that's really the case, then we're in trouble, anyway. It doesn't really matter who's the governor if the electorate is too stupid or lazy to choose the right person.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

Nothing like putting others down to build yourself up. See this way too often. Can't present a valid reason to promote yourself as the better candidate so you show any negative thing, real or made up, about the other guy. Most of the ads Rick Snyder aired during the primary were about him and if anything was negative, it was about the current state of Michigan. Buy the campaign? I didn't receive any money for a vote. Anyone out there receive money? Let's face it, the Dems have not solved our problems and at the national level, the Republicans have not controlled spending over the past several years. Unless we get someone in office who is willing to control spending, cut unnecessary programs, and provide an environment that will allow companies to start and grow, we are doomed. I don't care what party they belong to; Republican, Democrat, or other, just control spending like I do with my own budget. Then again, maybe the libs have the answer; tax, tax, tax. Government will solve all the problems. Trust us.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:48 a.m.

Sounds like Bernero attended the Jimmy Hoffa-inspired seminar series, "How To Squash Your Rivals and Intimidate Your Friends". Like others have said, Bernero is showing his REALLY bad side here - a side you expect in an elementary school playground. He must be really desperate.

David Cahill

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:43 a.m.

How can Snyder "buy" the election. Simple. He spends millions more of his personal fortune to dominate the airwaves. Debates provide a level playing field for the candidates. Why is Snyder afraid to debate?


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

Snyder knows he won't do well in a debate - that's not his strong suit. That's why he's avoiding them. That said, I wish Bernero would back off the negative rhetoric and just go after him on the issues.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:33 a.m.

Macaber "Snyder, an Ann Arbor venture capitalist, unilaterally ended debate negotiations between the two campaigns on Friday" I suspect that being ahead and knowing that a debt can only lose points for you the "agreement" was a stalling tactic. Its to bad I for one would like to see them side by side. I could care a less about the Nerd/angry man labels. Just because one has experience in Business or Government don't make them qualified. For you business lovers don't forget they have been shedding jobs. This State has been cutting its budget for the last 8 years. Our taxes are less now then in 1999 (when Engler was Gov.). All I'm saying there isn't much left to cut unless you really want bad roads, closed schools, closed Universities, doors open on prisons,, children cut off from medical needs. I suggest we all read the plans put forth by both candidates and go from there.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 7:28 a.m.

Why wont' Snyder debate? From what I read, Benero agreed to the three. Snyder's refusal to debate tells me he's comfortable with what the polls are telling him and is afraid that debtaing will show something he doesn't want to be shown. Comes across as cowardly, as a well as a slap in the face to any undecided voters. Poor move on his part. What kind of leadership does this show? Backing down from a challenge? Wow. I don't necessarily agree with Benero's tactics, but let's be honest, this is kind of a wimpy move on Snyder's part.

Paul Taylor

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

Yeah, dexterdriver, because as we all know, the Democrats operated in a vacuum for the past eight years... Sheesh!


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:37 a.m.

tdw, I'm not he expert....ask Snyder.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:34 a.m.

Bernero can whine all he wants. After election day he will return to his mediocrity and obscurity. Rick Snyder will step up to the challenge of reversing the damage the current Democrat regime has perpetrated on this state. Don't expect miracles, but wise policies will start Michigan on the road back to economic stability.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:18 a.m.

@ Cash exactly how does one "buy" an election?


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:07 a.m.

When you can buy an election, why apply for the job? His refusal to apply/debate, shows what little respect Snyder really has for us, the voters. If he refuses to debate other candidates, including his Republican opponents, he is really speaking loudly "I can buy this election. I don't need to show respect to anyone." Complete arrogance.

Jimmy McNulty

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

OK Bernero, this Union-mentality thuggery does not sit well with voters in this economy. It is not 1975.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 5:59 a.m.

Manufacturing, 'smoke stack' industry has been our backbone for over a hundred years. It's a little unclear from the Snyder quote referenced what he meant, but if he really thinks manufacturing ought to be put aside, then we are in trouble. I'm going to have to pay much more attention to this part of his message. On the other hand, attacking your opponent over and over shows a fundamental weakness in your own message. Reagan, for example, hardly paid Carter any attention, much to the chagrin of Carter's campaign. Reagan all but ignored him. But that was because his message was so compelling, he didn't need to resort to muck raking.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 5:57 a.m.

Good lord you guys love Bernero. Snyder did agree to debate, didn't he? Isn't three the standard number for elections? Isn't it normal to agree on terms without parading everything in front of the media? I guess when you're down 27 points, you kind of lose your dignity. Same goes for the media members who love you.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 5:45 a.m.

grow up bernero, we're not in elementary school anymore.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 5:44 a.m.

sounds like a bully picking on a