It was pretty much a given that Sunday's Democratic presidential debate in Flint, Mich., was going to feature a lot of piling on when it comes to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R). Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) was one of the first national politicians to call on Snyder to resign in the wake of the Flint water crisis, and on Sunday, Hillary Clinton agreed the embattled governor should resign -- or be forced out, via a recall.
Snyder was ready, fingertips waiting, to defend himself. As Democrats spent the first 30 minutes or so of the debate talking about the governmental failure they say led to the Flint water crisis, Snyder live-tweeted his counterpoints.
The candidates tried to paint the governor as incompetent and distant; he used Twitter to promote a very different picture:
The minute the candidates came on stage, his team had his graphic at the ready:
As Clinton and Sanders criticized all levels of state and local government for trying to save money by switching the water supply in Flint, which eventually caused widespread lead poisoning in the hardscrabble town, he had this to say:
And when Clinton and Sanders called for more aid and praised cleanup programs in the works, Snyder wanted the world to know he had a part in those things, too:
Snyder has reason to try to go on the offensive on Flint. There's already a recall petition for him circulating the state. It is for an unrelated issue, but it has quickly become a referendum on the governor's handling of the water crisis.
If the petition is successful, the question of whether Snyder should stay or go will ultimately be decided by the voters in August. A poll released in late January by polling company EPIC-MRA in Lansing, Mich., shows that 69 percent of Michigan voters didn't approve of the way Snyder has handled the crisis, but just 29 percent thought he should resign at the time.
Interestingly, whether to support the recall is a fraught issue for Michigan Democrats. Snyder is term-limited and will step down in 2018, but his lieutenant governor is widely expected to run for the top job and could get a leg up by replacing Snyder for the next few years.
This isn't the first time Snyder has publicly defended his action in the wake of the water crisis. He has apologized several times back home, has done national TV interviews, and later this month he'll testify before Congress, where those in Flint are hoping to better understand what the governor knew about the water crisis and when. Snyder has released emails related to Flint.
Snyder didn't sign off Twitter as the candidates moved on from Flint. He also defended the state's economic record and Detroit's recovery, which he helped get out of bankruptcy: