McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis called former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to tell him of the decision just before Romney got on a conference call with reporters today. Romney, who grew up in Oakland County, was holding the call with McCain strategist Doug Holtz-Eakin to raise claims that Obama’s policies are no good for Michigan’s struggling economy.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Romney, confirmed the call took place but wouldn’t discuss the details. “They need to do whatever they think puts them in a position to win in November,” Fehrnstrom said.
A state Republican Party source had already told the Free Press that McCain was pulling out of the race in the state and moving workers to Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida — the latter two being states won by President George W. Bush in 2004 that the Republican needs to hold onto if he’s going to win the White House.
Recent polls have shown Obama increasing his lead in Michigan into double digits. A Detroit Free Press-Local 4 Michigan poll showed Obama with a 13-point lead last week, and today a poll by Public Policy Polling showed Obama leading McCain 51-41 in the state. Meanwhile, McCain’s earlier margins in Florida and Ohio were slipping.
Florida, in particular, is seen as key to a Republican victory, and a CNN/Time poll showed Obama leading there with a slim 51-47 lead this week.
According to the source, the Republican National Committee — which is the source of money for many of the 100 or so people working on behalf of the McCain campaign in Michigan — called state GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis this afternoon and told him the campaign would be moving workers out of the state and ceasing to buy local airtime in the state for ads.
No reason for the move was given. The McCain campaign’s Michigan spokeswoman, Sarah Lenti, wouldn’t immediately comment.