HOLLAND, Mich. — One week after meeting with President Barack Obama in Flint amid the ongoing water crisis, Gov. Rick Snyder said he understood the anger directed at him from people who booed his appearance.
Snyder could barely be heard over raucous catcalls and boos when he attempted to address a crowd of more than 1,000 people who were waiting to hear the President speak inside Flint's Northwestern High School on May 4 .
“I can understand people being angry and frustrated by the situation," Snyder told reporters following his remarks at the Tulip Time Luncheon at Hope College's DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland.
"I thought it was important to go out and talk to them and I just view that as something I should do.”
Last Wedneday, Snyder also attempted to apologize to the crowd, telling them "you didn't create this problem; Government failed you." Many in the audience last week yelled back at Snyder, "You failed."
The Tulip Time audience appeared much more receptive, offering repeated applause during the governor's remarks. While Snyder did mention Flint, he took a notably optimistic approach, choosing to focus on improving infrastructure and education in the state. He also touted the recent expansion of Medicaid to an additional 15,000 children and pregnant women in the Flint area in response to the lead-tainted water.
“These are really serious issues," Snyder said, in respect to Flint and Detroit Public Schools. "But if you look at the rest of the state, we have a lot of great things going on and many of the program we're working on are very effective, but let’s not be complacent nor content with that."
Snyder, who greeted the President on the tarmac last week, said meetings later that day with Obama, Flint's mayor and other officials proved to be "constructive."
“I was very pleased with the President’s visit," he told reporters. "It was focused in on problem solving and how we work together between the federal government, state government, the city, county all working together.
When asked, Snyder said he appreciated that Obama publicly drank filtered water during his visit.
"I think that was an important message to reinforce, to have the President come in and make it clear he believes those are appropriate actions, that’s very much a positive," he said.