TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Two weeks before the election, Republican Pete Hoekstra said Tuesday he's counting on a strong showing by presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Michigan to help him upset Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
Polls consistently have shown Obama ahead in the state he carried four years ago — and Stabenow has even bigger leads. But Hoekstra, who released a new television ad Tuesday linking Stabenow to Obama, said Romney, a Michigan native, is gathering momentum in his home state.
"Mitt's clearly pulling us along with him as he's overtaking the president here in Michigan," the former congressman from Holland said in a phone call with reporters.
The new 30-second ad blames policies put forth by Obama and Stabenow for problems such as high gas prices, unemployment and the national debt.
"Hoekstra can spend his time standing up for Mitt Romney," Stabenow spokesman Cullen Schwarz said. "Debbie is standing up for Michigan families."
Meanwhile, a separate super PAC called the Hardworking Americans Committee began running a commercial accusing Stabenow of failing to pay property taxes on her Washington, D.C., home.
Stu Sandler, a Republican consultant from Ann Arbor, said he was a member of the group, which is spending at least $1 million on the ad.
Hoekstra said he wasn't involved with the organization, but said the ad showed that Stabenow is "more than willing to raise taxes on the American people but is not paying the taxes she is responsible for."
Schwarz said Stabenow was late on property tax payments from 2005-07 but has paid all required penalties.
"Debbie has always paid her taxes in full," he said. "Pete Hoekstra is losing this election so he's turning to secret money super PACs to launch desperate last-minute attacks."
Hoekstra again challenged Stabenow to debate "anytime, anywhere." Talks on scheduling debates broke down earlier this month when the two sides couldn't agree on the number of debates and other details.
"Debbie hasn't said no to me on debates; she's said no to the people of Michigan," Hoekstra said. "The people of Michigan are very frustrated. They believe it's an arrogant position to take."
Schwarz said Hoekstra had only himself to blame for rejecting the format that had been used for Senate debates in Michigan since the 1990s.
"If Hoekstra was really serious about debates we could have had two by now," Schwarz said. "It's clear he's rather use the issue for political attacks. We've moved on."