DETROIT — Both nights of the Democratic debates in Detroit posed a fundamental question for the Democratic Party: How far left is too far left to beat President Trump? That’s especially relevant in the upper Midwest, where Trump managed to flip Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan in 2016.
Congressman Dan Kildee understands how to win in a red state. The Democrat represents nearby Flint, Michigan — a Democratic stronghold that Trump chipped away at in 2016, winning 42.59% of the vote versus Mitt Romney’s 35.24% in Genesee County. The water crisis made national news and hit residents of all races. In the past few months, the town has become a must-stop for presidential candidates like Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Sen. Cory Booker, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who have all made visits in just the past few weeks.
Kildee came to Detroit to hear which of them has a plan that might galvanize voters in Flint and across Michigan. He told VICE News ahead of the Wednesday evening debate that candidates need to speak directly to voters’ anxieties.
"I think there's a misperception about what's happening in the economy. You know, we hear all this stuff about the economy is great, unemployment's low, the Dow is at whatever. People are still afraid. They're nervous about the job they might have now, but they don't think they make enough money to support their families,” he said.
Kildee bluntly assessed that Michiganders “can see through bullshit really easily."
This segment originally aired July 31, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.