"Over the last 40 years, a lot has changed. Michigan isn't what it was economically," said Mitt Romney.
In fact, 300,000 jobs have been lost in that state since the year 2000. But Romney, who was born and raised in Michigan, disagrees with the claim of rival John McCain that some of those jobs are gone for good.
"I want to bring Michigan back. I'm not willing to sit back and say, 'Too bad for Michigan, too bad for the car industry, too bad for the people who've lost their jobs; they're gone forever.' That's not the kind of pessimism I think that'll make Michigan strong again," said Mitt Romney.
At a town hall meeting in Kalamazoo, McCain emphasized the need for retraining the workforce and green technologies.
"We have the innovation, the talent, the knowledge and the ability in Detroit, Michigan and in this state to regain Michigan's position as the best in the world. We will create new jobs," said John McCain.
Socially conservative western Michigan is where Mike Huckabee has his sights set.
Monday, he took direct aim at Mitt Romney, son of former Governor George Romney.
"For those of us for whom summer is not a verb, for those of us who didn't go to fancy boarding schools on the east coast, for those of us who didn't grow up with a silver spoon, who were lucky to have a spoon. Ask those folks and they'll tell you the economy is not doing all that great for them," said Mike Huckabee.
According to the ABC News/Washington Post poll, 29-percent of those asked call that economy the most important issue in their vote.
That's nearly triple what it was just last September.