Michigan may suddenly become an early presidential battleground as the state considers holding a primary in mid-January, and Republican Mitt Romney is staking out perhaps some unusual territory (for him, anyway). Yesterday, the former Massachusetts governor formed the Romney for President Michigan Small Business Coalition. According to his campaign, the "committee of 30 men and women will advise Governor Romney on the important economic issues affecting the people and small businesses of Michigan."
Of course, Romney has family ties to Michigan -- he grew up there, and his father George served as governor -- but the younger Romney needs all the advice he can get on the difficulties small businesses face. His father, after all, was auto exec, while Mitt made his great fortune as a consultant and fund manager. The coalition, chaired by three state legislators with small business backgrounds, draws its members from across the state, though only three are women. The Romney campaign hasn't yet gotten back to The Entrepreneurial Agenda about the coalition's agenda, and whether it will really "advise" the Romney campaign or merely market for it.
In other Romney news, the candidate is set to outline a detailed healthcare proposal in a speech this afternoon in Florida. Press previews indicate that he will distinguish himself from his rivals by proposing a state-by-state solution. On first reflection, this strikes the Agenda as a fairly meaningless distinction -- the needs states have and the problems they face aren't all that different. Stay tuned.
Update, 11:35 a.m.: Just heard from Alex Burgos, a director of media for the Romney campaign. He says the coalitions -- there are business coalitions in Iowa and New Hampshire as well -- will serve largely to get the Romney message out to the small business constituency, identify new supporters, and fund-raise. But, he adds, they will also consult with the campaign about policy. "These are people who are on the frontlines of the American economy -- they're the ones who are dealing with issues of taxation and regulation," Burgos said. Such committees, he added, hold periodic conference calls and meetings, and "the information flows both ways."