Mackinac Island, Mich. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney criticized Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's record while promoting his own - and polishing a possible presidential bid - during a gathering of more than 1,500 Republicans on this northern Michigan resort island.
"She's gone down the liberal road, and I've gone down the conservative road," Romney said. "You've seen the jobs being chased away from your state, and we've seen jobs grow in our state."
Granholm spokesman Liz Boyd responded that Michigan has created or retained 230,000 jobs since Granholm took office in 2003. She said most of the jobs lost in Michigan since 2000 were lost while Republican John Engler was governor.
She added that Granholm was still waiting for the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass her proposals to cut business taxes and invest at least $1 billion to promote high-tech jobs in areas such as advanced manufacturing and biosciences.
"If anyone should be held accountable (for lost jobs), it should be the Republican Legislature," Boyd said.
Another 2008 presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, also spoke at the three-day Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference. He largely focused his speech on social issues, winning applause for his stances opposing gay marriage, abortion and using embryonic stem cells for medical research.
Brownback, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also criticized U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan for announcing she would vote against the confirmation of John Roberts, President Bush's nominee to become chief justice.
"I disagree strongly with Senator Stabenow," Brownback said. He added that he thought Roberts would win confirmation easily, but that Bush's nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor would face stiff opposition from Democrats.
"The next one, who could be John Roberts' twin, I believe will be filibustered," Brownback said.
The incoming chairman of the Republican Governors Assn. said the RGA was targeting the governors races in Michigan, Iowa, Florida and Ohio for 2006. Michigan is the only one of the four in which an incumbent is running.