LANSING, Mich. (AP) — As President Barack Obama formally kicked off his re-election campaign Saturday in nearby Ohio, thousands of Democrats gathered in union halls, libraries and community centers throughout Michigan to nominate him to run for a second term.
The Michigan Democratic Party released unofficial results Saturday afternoon, showing Obama got 4,126 votes while 11 votes went to uncommitted. The results mean the president will get all 203 of Michigan's delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
In Lansing, cheers and applause broke out after around 25 party activists at the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 333 union hall unanimously voted for Obama by raising their hands. Many also signed nominating petitions for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and to put a labor-friendly issue on the November ballot.
Democrats are "fired up about supporting Obama. Engaged. Ready to go," said Linda Henderson, a 57-year-old party activist who wore an Obama T-shirt to the caucus meeting.
Michigan native Mitt Romney narrowly won the state's Feb. 28 Republican presidential primary in which nearly 1 million votes were cast. Obama received 194,887 votes in the Democratic election held that day.
But the party never intended to use those results to nominate the president. Party Chairman Mark Brewer had accused Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson of trying to create confusion by putting Obama's name on the ballot even though Brewer had asked that it be left off, a charge Republicans denied.
Democrats will meet later to choose national convention delegates. Michigan was granted 27 bonus delegates because it held off holding its caucuses until May.
Many at the Lansing caucus said Obama's decision to support General Motors and Chrysler during their 2009 bankruptcy proceedings makes the president the clear choice come November. Romney has said the Michigan-based companies should have gone through a managed bankruptcy without the federal funds, and wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times in 2008 that was headlined "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."
"The fact that he didn't want to bail out the auto industry ... when Barack did, it left a sour taste in people's mouths when they came here," said Ingham County Democratic Chairwoman Sandy Zerkle, noting that two nearby GM plants employ thousands. "The enthusiasm to get the president re-elected is large."
Obama won Michigan by 17 percentage points in 2008, but Romney is a Michigan native and the state's economy continues to emerge from a decade-long slump. Obama's Organizing for America team has opened a dozen Michigan campaign offices so far, Brewer said, and volunteers have been calling supporters and going door-to-door to promote the president.
"We have met all of our goals as far as phone banking and canvassing," said Henderson, a Lansing lawyer and a volunteer for the Obama campaign. "We know it's going to take people power to do it, and we're ready to go."
"Ready to Go" was the theme of the rallies Obama and his wife, Michelle, were leading Saturday at Ohio State University in Columbus and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, two potentially crucial states.
Obama's campaign also is focusing on Michigan. He attended fundraising events in Dearborn and Bingham Farms last month, and campaign adviser Robert Gibbs gave the keynote address at last weekend's Democratic Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Detroit.
Senior adviser David Axelrod is scheduled to speak Saturday night at the Michigan Association of Justice's annual convention in Dearborn. And U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will speak Sunday at the University of Michigan Law School's Senior Day in Ann Arbor before he addresses the Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Fight for Freedom Fund event at Cobo Center.
"We're getting lots of attention from the Obama campaign, and that will continue," Brewer said.
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