With James Craig’s Week From Hell Finally Over, Here’s What People Said About the Detroit Dodger’s Failed Campaign Reboot

“Messiest gubernatorial campaign announcement event” … “CHAOS” … “Dumpster fire” … “Complete debacle” … “A complete clusterf**k” … “A very messy kickoff” … “Any message he hoped to convey was lost” … “Infrastructure is NOT one of his priorities” … “His entourage just drove off”

LANSING — No one is happier to see Friday than gubernatorial candidate James Craig. 

Yesterday marked the end of a disastrous 3-day campaign reboot tour for the Detroit Dodger that featured him fleeing his own event for a gated venue, skipping his Flint event entirely with no warning to attendees, giving shocking answers on infrastructure (‘not my priority’) and abortion rights (didn’t commit to rape and incest exemptions), and failing to inform the press of two out of three of his scheduled press conferences.

Read below for Michigan reporters’ reactions to and coverage of a campaign reboot failure on multiple levels that will be tough to outdo despite 12 candidates being in the race:

David Eggert (AP): 3 Republican strategists weigh in separately on Craig’s campaign kickoff event (which was disrupted by protesters at a state park). ‘Complete debacle.’ ‘Poor planning.’ ‘Dumpster fire.’ #migov

Steve Neavling (Detroit Metro Times): James Craig’s ‘official’ campaign launch in Detroit was a complete clusterf**k

Zach Gorchow (Gongwer): After 12 years of Andy Dillon’s campaign holding the crown for messiest gubernatorial campaign announcement event, there’s a new contender for the crown.

Susan J. Demas (Michigan Advance): You’d think that with all the campaign launches James Craig has had, he could get one right.

David Eggert (AP): They may not be unhappy from a fundraising perspective, but it’s still a very messy kickoff when he’s really already been running for months & is seen as perhaps the GOP’s best contender vs. Whitmer (though Tudor Dixon is on that list as well.) #migov

Ross Jones (WXYZ): James Craig’s campaign kick-off could be going better.

Deadline Detroit: James Craig’s much-publicized campaign kickoff in Detroit didn’t go as planned.

Rachel Louise Just (WWMT): Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig already running into some problems ahead of his announcement that he’s running for the GOP nomination for governor

Mark Cavitt (The Oakland Press): I don’t think James Craig has driven on any Michigan freeways lately. The Whitmer Administration is definitely fixing the damn roads right now. Note: Two weekends ago, it took my wife and I around 7 hours to get home from Traverse City. 

Dave Boucher (Detroit Free Press): Craig taking questions, addresses:
– 2020 election (says he hasn’t seen evidence of fraud but supports an Arizona-like “audit”) 
– Protests today (says he thinks they were paid, but has no evidence of it.) 
– Infrastructure: It’s important but not necessarily a top priority

Chad Livengood (Crain’s Business Detroit): In stump speech, @chiefjamescraig was critical of @GovWhitmer’s record on infrastructure/roads.
Me: “What is your plan for improving infrastructure and fixing roads?”
Craig: “Well, one, I didn’t say that’s one of my priorities. However, I do think our roads do need to be fixed”

Chad Livengood (Crain’s Business Detroit): I and other reporters have listened to that comment several times over the past two hours. It’s clear…the presumed Republican frontrunner for governor who is critical of MDOT’s handling of flooded freeways in metro Detroit just said infrastructure is NOT one of his priorities.

Dave Boucher (Detroit Free Press): To echo Chad here: I double-checked with other reporters and my audio to make sure Craig said what I thought I’d heard. Before now, I’d never heard a political candidate say “I didn’t say that was one of my priorities” when asked about ideas for improving infrastructure.

Chad Livengood (Crain’s Business Detroit): I’m objectively reporting James Craig signaled that improving infrastructure is not on his agenda. This may be double-speak, but it’s still his answer to a direct question. “Well, one, I didn’t say that’s one of my priorities. HOWEVER, I do think our roads do need to be fixed”

Emily Lawler (MLive): Under questioning from @McNamaraWDET Craig says he just has a feeling, and no evidence, protestors were paid.

Violet Ikonomova (Deadline Detroit): this is how this went:
reporter: Who paid the protesters?
Craig: I don’t know, but I gotta believe —
reporter: Then how do you know?
Craig: I feel good about it, I feel like they were paid. I don’t have any hard evidence but —
reporter: is that how you operate as an officer then?

Samuel J. Robinson (MLive): James Craig is a former chief of police making allegations based on feelings instead of evidence….

Dave Boucher (Detroit Free Press): Boat with a large sign in the Detroit river: “Where is James Craig hiding?”

Chad Livengood (Crain’s Business Detroit): CHAOS: James Craig attempted to start his gubernatorial campaign press conference in Detroit and was shouted down by protesters. He stood at the podium momentarily and then took off. His entourage just drove off on Belle Isle.

Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Craig approached the podium anyway to protest chants of “James Craig has got to go.”  “I just got one thing to say: I’m running for governor of the state of Michigan, ” he says.  Then: “Let’s go” as he exits the podium.

Eli Newman (WDET): Craig arrives, and any semblance of order for this press conference falls apart. He spoke briefly and left, presumably announcing his run for governor.

Zach Gorchow (Gongwer): I know up is down and left is right in politics now. But “couldn’t have scripted a better announcement”? No doubt this is catnip for broader coverage than he would have received. But any message he hoped to convey was lost. We have been led to believe his $$$ already was amazing.

Malachi Barrett (MLive): Reporting from several Michigan outlets note Craig’s campaign acknowledged that crowd control would be the responsibility of the campaign. MSP reported the protesters were peaceful and no violations of law were observed. 

Craig Mauger (Detroit News): James Craig criticized the DNR for not helping to protect his campaign event on Tuesday morning. However, text messages show a campaign official privately acknowledged to the DNR that crowd control was not “on you guys.”

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