The campaign to boost the sales tax to fix the roads is not going to steal the line from the former President Roosevelt, but it will try to capitalize on "fear" to secure a yes vote.
Imagine a TV commercial with a young teenage driver moving under a freeway overpass where falling concrete is held back by a thin piece of plywood. The announcer might ask, "Is your child safe if the plywood gives way?"
Or imagine a school bus, loaded with young children, pulling up to a bridge with a sign that declares the bridge too dangerous to cross. That forces the bus to go ten miles out of the way to get your child safely to school.
Gov. Rick Snyder has used the word "scary" to describe drivers who dodge a pothole and become a distracted driver who could cause a major accident involving you.
The campaign now taking shape is focusing on the public safety theme and a strategy that, in part, is like running a local election.
"This is precisely like a millage election," suggests GOP consultant Steve Mitchell. With $300 million in the plan for schools, he argues, "the people most likely to vote (next May) are people who vote in school elections."
Likewise with the citizens who vote to raise local revenue for bus transportation. There are 500,000 of them who would see mass transit improvements if this ballot issue passes.
The grand strategy according to one insider is to identify all these special groups and then let the leaders "rally the troops."
The technical term is 'micro-targeting" long used by political candidates to zero in on folks who might vote for them. And this can work on issues, too.
But wait. The polling suggests the governor and friends are underwater unable to break the magical 50 percent plateau.
Mr. Mitchell concedes the point but reports he's been in hundreds of millage election in the same boat but by targeting the right voters and getting them to the polls, it produced some victories against seemingly rotten odds.
The opposition frames this debate not only in terms of it being a tax hike, that's the easy part, but it is blasting all the "special interest" groups that get a piece of this almost $2 billion pie if it passes.
But the yes vote side will counter you can't call a school bus driver a special interest or an ambulance slowed down getting to a car crash because the roads are so bad.
The interesting political twist in all this is the tough time the governor is experiencing with members of his own party. Thirty-three percent of the Rs are voting yes.
Just this week one of his inner circle advisors, John Yob, announced he was heading an effort to defeat Prop 1. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
The governor could pick up some support at the state GOP convention when it meets later this month. Lt. Gov. Brain Calley says such a resolution has never gone to the convention. Critics contend if it did, you might have dandy of a floor fight which would embarrass the governor even if it eventually passed.
And then there's the case of Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Asked if they were backing the governor on the tax increase, they dove for the high grass.
Mr. Schuette wants to "study" it. Ms. Johnson wants to "read" it which means the two Republicans are not exactly falling all over themselves to help their governor.
"I hope her study goes well," the sanguine governor reflected when told of Ms. Johnson's stance. Oh by the way one of her jobs is traffic safety.
Apparently she's not as fearful as the governor?