Your Democratic rivals are too busy butchering one another to campaign here, much less notice 7.2 percent unemployment, record foreclosures and skyrocketing demand at local food banks.
So naturally, you'd give a speech on child pornography and human trafficking around the world, right?
It's not that John McCain's 20-minute indictment of these heinous crimes at Oakland University on Wednesday wasn't admirable.
But it was a speech you deliver outside the United Nations, not a few miles from Delphi world headquarters, which just emerged from bankruptcy after shuttering factories and slashing wages in half for many autoworkers.
In Michigan, it's the economy, stupid.
Republican after Republican I talked to, including McCain's most diehard supporters, were floored by the misstep. He has a great shot at winning the Mitten State thanks to a botched Democratic primary, but his advisers seem intent on blowing it.
Most of the 700 attendees stared at McCain with slack-jawed politeness before the town hall portion, in which they hungrily fired off questions about jobs, the Iraq war, fuel-economy standards and even his temper (to which he drolly shot back, "How dare you ask me that question").
My man McCain, whom I proudly voted for in the Jan. 15 primary, is not a born orator. He gives a tired, rambling speech with the same awkward punchlines ("The French now have a pro-American president, which shows that if you live long enough, anything can happen") he unfurled back in the start of primary season.
He also took a long layover in Panderville to appease a crowd more conservative than he, filled with party activists who voted for Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee and cried for days when Mighty Mac crushed them. McCain's lines about trial lawyers, conservative judges, victory in Iraq and nuclear power won cheers; his straight talk on global warming was met with crickets.
Even the barebones traveling press corps seemed exhausted and cranky, perhaps knowing the A-Team was having a blast covering the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama smackdown. During the heat of the Michigan primary, I wanted to break out the popcorn as Time magazine columnists Joe Klein and Ana Marie Cox sniped over who got to cover McCain in Howell.
In Rochester Hills, the only person who looked like he wanted to be there was Michigan Co-Chair Chuck Yob, who held court at the jumbled affair for more than an hour before McCain arrived.
McCain has a window to define himself in Michigan. Democratic hopefuls have barely stepped foot here since National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell hatched her harebrained primary scheme that cost the state every delegate, a mess they're still trying to mop up.
He failed this week. He failed when he turned down the keynote address at the influential Mackinac Policy Conference this month to do a fundraiser in Grand Rapids. McCain's not going to get that many more chances before the Dems (finally) get their act together.
If you want to know why the virtually nonexistent McCain Michigan campaign is wheezing, look no further than Yob, a knee-jerk reactionary who miraculously hung onto his job after spouting off that women make fine secretaries of state "because they like that sort of work."
Yob and his boy, John Patrick, launched a boneheaded West Michigan strategy (their only strategy) that handed McCain a 9-point primary loss. Keep in mind that McCain won a stunning upset here against George W. Bush in 2000, back when his campaign was headed by the brilliant former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz.
The Yobs are completely tone-deaf when it comes to Oakland County, which will be the key to a McCain victory in November. Where was iconic County Executive L. Brooks Patterson on Wednesday? Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop couldn't even make it back to his district because the event was scheduled at the exact same time as session.
That's who you want on stage, not state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Kalamazoo, the sacrificial right-wing lamb praying to break 40 percent against U.S. Sen. Carl Levin this fall.
What's best for McCain would be turning the Yobs loose to pursue their true passion, polarizing the party and making state Chair Saul Anuzis' life miserable (sorry, Saul, I'm rootin' for you).
When Chuckie was making noises about running for party chair in 2004, Attorney General Mike Cox adeptly surmised it would be disastrous because "he's more concerned with party elections than with beating Democrats." Cox went on to be McCain's state chair, only to quit last summer after chafing with the Yob West Michigan mafia.
What McCain should do now is aggressively court powerbrokers like Patterson, Bishop and U.S. Rep. Candice Miller to be his ambassadors in Southeast Michigan. And he should give his old friend Joe Schwarz a call and beg him to run the show again, since he's about the only credible moderate voice left here who could woo votes away from Obama.
That's just good politics if you're serious about winning Michigan. Your move, McCain.