'Dirty Jobs' star Mike Rowe talks work with Mitt Romney in Ohio
By Kate O'Hare | September 26, 2012 1:47 AM ET t Mike meets Mitt on Wednesday (Sept. 26) in the Buckeye State to talk about how to get America back to work.
Mike Rowe is host of Discovery's "Dirty Jobs" and the new "How Booze Built America," airing Wednesdays, but he has a spin-off career as creator of mikeroweWORKS.com, a Website and a movement dedicated to functioning as a PR campaign for traditional, hands-on jobs.
"I really believe," Rowe tells Zap2it, "part of the reason that three million shovel-ready jobs entirely imploded is the fact that [President Barack Obama] was trying to sell that notion to a country that doesn't want to pick up a shovel."
Back in early September, Rowe, as he did for the newly elected Obama in 2009, wrote an open letter to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney about the state of work in America, stating, "If you read the whole thing, I'll vote for you in November."
While Rowe says he "will make no public endorsement, one way or the other," it does appear that the former Massachusetts governor did indeed read the letter, as seen in this photo tweeted out on Sept. 6 by his traveling press secretary, Rick Gorka, with the note "Gov catching up on news after debate prep, incl. an interesting letter about skilled labor from @MikeRoweWorks"
Two days later, Rowe tweeted, "Holy crap! He read it ..."
"I heard from him within 12 hours," says Rowe. "He called back and invited me to Ohio to sit on a roundtable with a bunch of CEOs to have a conversation about all of it."
Of course, after this exchange, attacks on American embassies in Libya and elsewhere overtook the news cycle, along with the Romney and Obama campaigns. Rowe wondered if the event was still on.
"They called last night," says Rowe, speaking on Sept. 25, right after landing in Cleveland, Ohio, "and they said, 'No, game on. Can you get there?' I said, 'Yeah, as long as I'm still invited.' They said, 'Oh, you are our invited guest.' So I hopped on a plane, and here I am."
Billed as a "Manufacturing Event with Mitt Romney in Bedford Heights (OH)," the free event takes place at American Spring Wire. According to Rowe, the CEO will take the invited guests on a tour of the factory, followed by a conversation in front of the crowd. No word at press time whether any portion of the event will be televised nationally, but Rowe does plan to post at least some video on his site.
"There are going to be a lot of cameras there," he says, "but I'm working right now to see if I can get somebody there to chronicle the event for mikeroweWORKS people."
Rowe traveled at his own expense. Also, despite reports saying that the appearance with Romney equals support for the Republican's campaign, Rowe says, "That is indeed spin. No, it's not an endorsement.
"In fact, I'm going to be as clear as I can -- this is the same message that I've been out there with for the last four years, same message I went to various states with.
"It's the same message that got the whole 'Go Build...' campaign off the ground in Alabama."
And, Rowe's willing to take his act on the road with Romney's rival.
"Look, if the president calls and says, 'Hey, I'm having a jobs summit,' I'll be there, if he wants to talk about a PR campaign for work. I'm not beyond taking advantage of a presidential election.
"I've not heard from the White House. No, but standing by!"