John McCain’s whiplash-inducing u-turns on auto-emissions mandates (as of Thursday he’s for the states setting individual standards) is an uncomfortable sign for a man who would have the wheel of U.S. regulatory policy. And for politicos who see Michigan as a crucial state for McCain’s election chances, the senator’s driving must be even more worrisome. Detroit News business columnist Dan Howes has been talking to auto folks and had this to say:
Does anyone in the Arizona senator’s campaign, which stopped Friday at General Motors Corp.’s Tech Center in Warren, actually brief the candidate? Do they know the difference between a single national standard for emissions and allowing the zealots in the California Assembly to set their own emissions targets? Do they know how much each costs? Do they care? If not, why waste time here?
What’s McCain doing?
You’d think before you come to Detroit or GM, you’d have a pretty concise answer on this,” an executive with a rival automaker tells me. “Michigan should be a competitive state for him, but it almost feels like he’s doing what he can to lose it.”
Yes, it does. The Big Mitten, the sickest state economy in America, is shaping up to be a battleground in this fall’s election. How does it make political sense, then, for McCain to swoop in, do a 180 in the name of “federalism” and punt on the national emissions standard that Detroit (and, truth be told, Toyota and the others) desperately want and that he once said he supported?