Michael Moore's warning to President Obama: "Don't fly into Detroit and fly out of Detroit and have that George Bush moment of looking out the window at Flint"

The president visits the Detroit Auto Show as protests grow over Flint's water crisis

By Sophia Tesfaye
Published January 20, 2016 8:55PM (EST)

President Obama traveled today for his post State of the Union tour to tout the resurgence of America's auto industry at the Motor City's world famous auto show, but as the area grapples with an epic man-made water disaster in neighboring Flint, filmmaker Michael Moore warns the president to avoid creating his own George W. Bush Katrina moment.

"Don't fly into Detroit and fly out of Detroit and over and have that George Bush moment of looking out the window at Flint," the activist and favored son of Flint said on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes," Tuesday evening. "We need his presence there," Moore explained:

And President Obama, I just don't know what I could do to convince him. He's going to be walking through the Detroit Auto Show tomorrow looking at all the bright shiny cars, all the futuristic cars that the automakers are planning to put out there in the next few years. And we're like a ten- minute helicopter ride from Detroit ... [W]e need his active presence, and they need to declare it a disaster area.

The White House has said the president has no plans to stop in Flint after meeting with the city's mayor in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. He is toured the North American International Auto Show earlier on Wednesday and gave remarks at the UAW GM Center for Human Resources this afternoon, opening with a focus on the Flint water crisis.

"It is a reminder of why you can't short-change basic services that we provide to our people," Obama said on Wednesday. The president decalred a federal emergency over the Flint water crisis on Saturday.

Moore, who has called on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate, arrest and prosecute Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for his part in the water crisis, went on to argue that the governor committed "a crime of both fraud, of covering up, and of polluting the water":

You've got to understand this. People of Flint were drinking this clean water from Lake Huron. He wanted to save money. He removed the mayor and the city council because the town had gone bankrupt.

And Moore had a personal message to Florida senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who dismissed the crisis on the campaign trail as "an issue that, right now, we’ve been focused on.”

"I’d love to give you a better answer on it. It’s just not an issue we’ve been quite frankly fully briefed or apprised of," Rubio explained to reporters in Iowa this week.

"Let me fully brief Marco Rubio about Flint," Moore began:

This is the town where the UAW was born. The great sitdown strike of 1936, 80 years ago, created, according to historians, the middle class. It was created in Flint, Michigan because my uncle and others who were in that strike beat General Motors and created a middle class that didn`t exist before Flint.

This was our gift to the world that working people could actually own a home, send the kids to college, have a car, get a vacation, see a doctor, all of these ideas came from that strike in 1936.

And the city built General Motors into the world`s largest and richest corporation. In return for that, GM, beginning about 30 some years ago, started moving jobs out of Flint and moving them elsewhere, mostly to third world countries but also to nonunion states down south. And in doing so, wrecked the lives and the livelihoods of the people who built that corporation.

And that was the first blow. And it`s been one blow after another decade after decade now. Wall Street came in and did their job on Flint. The government has done it. And now it`s like it was 200,000 people there before I made Roger and Me, now there`s 100,000 left. 100,000 people got out.

Watch Moore's message to Obama and Rubio, via MSNBC:

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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All In With Chris Hayes Detroit Auto Show Flint Water Crisis Michael Moore President Obama Video