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Published: Tuesday, 9/4/2012

Gov. Snyder leads walkers across bridge


MACKINAW CITY, Mich. -- Gov. Rick Snyder set a brisk pace Monday while leading thousands of walkers and runners across the Mackinac Bridge for one of Michigan's most popular Labor Day traditions.

Members of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's family accompanied the Republican governor during the walk, which came hours ahead of Vice President Joe Biden's fiery speech at a Labor Day rally in Detroit, 250 miles to the south.

Setting out under sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, Mr. Snyder race-walked the bridge in 1 hour and 3 minutes -- a 12-minute-mile pace.

"The walk was a blast because you're with thousands of Michiganders," Mr. Snyder said after arriving in Mackinaw City, at the bridge's southern terminus.

Several members of Mr. Romney's family participated, among them brother George M. and former sister-in-law Ronna Romney McDaniel. Pete Hoekstra, the Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, also accompanied Mr. Snyder.

The often independent-leaning governor, who defied the Republican-controlled state Legislature to veto voter ID legislation, decried the adversarial tone of national politics. Mr. Snyder said he hopes the climate in Washington eases after November.

"Most of American politics is too negative," he said. "People wouldn't treat their family that way."

Mr. Snyder said he'd rather see politics work on the model of "no blame, no credit."

Other walkers included Randall Ketchapaw, 33, of Wayland, who helped start the family tradition in 1991. He has participated every year since, and is passing it on to the next generation of Ketchapaws.

"My son here started when he was 3 months old," Mr. Ketchapaw said. "This is his sixth walk. Sixth stroll, I should say."

Tony Crespo, 67, of Three Rivers was with his wife and daughter at the walk's start in St. Ignace at 6:30 a.m. -- before the sun had risen.

"Today is a nice day. The year before last it was raining" said Mr. Crespo, who is retired from General Motors Co. Not that the weather matters to him. "Rain or not rain, I will come," he said.

Other Michigan residents used the traditional end-of-summer holiday to picnic, attend food fairs, and listen to music. In Midland, several hundred people took part in the 22nd annual Labor Day walk across the city's three-sided bridge, Mlive.com reported.

"The weather is 'Pure Michigan' at its finest," Jim Nigro, president of Midland Noon Rotary Club, said, referring to the state's travel promotion program. "But this is pure Midland."

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