Former Governor Jennifer Granholm's book, "A Governor's Story: The Fight for Jobs and America's Economic Future," is on bookstore shelves. It offers her perspective on eight years in the job she described as the toughest facing any governor in the U.S. She battled budget shortfalls, Republicans in the Legislature, and skeptics of federal efforts to bail out the Detroit auto industry.
A Story To Tell
Granholm says she wrote "A Governor's Story" in part to offer her prescription for fixing the nation's economy. She says it's based on her experience, and an often trial-and-error road to an economic strategy that can work for the entire nation.
"We've got a story to tell," she says. "So for everybody who cares about how to crack the code to create advanced manufacturing jobs in American and the globally competitive economy - we've got the story to tell."
But the former governor also uses the political memoir to defend her job performance. She was highly unpopular when she left office, held responsible for failing to fix the state's economy or stop the seemingly never-ending political gridlock in Lansing.
"A Governor's Story" focuses almost exclusively on Granholm's eight years as governor, barely mentioning her one term as state attorney general, the first and only other political office she's held, or anything else about her life before becoming Michigan's first female chief executive.
Beyond Her Control
She says the forces that cost the state a million jobs over the course of a decade were global in scope and beyond her control, or the control of any governor.
"Anybody who goes into a position of leadership goes into that position assuming that they're going to be able to fix the problems. But sometimes the circumstances are beyond that leader's full control," she says.
On budget troubles that bedeviled her tenure, Granholm says she was set up for failure by her predecessor, Republican John Engler, who cut taxes without really cutting spending as the state's economy grew at a record pace. And the tax cuts continued even after the economy stumbled. She says that combination destabilized Michigan's finances as she took over.
The book is told in Granholm's voice, but she co-wrote it with husband Dan Mulhern.
It's also a tale of the couple's personal journey. It details Mulhern's role as husband, spiritual advisor and executive coach - his job before he became Michigan's first First Gentleman. He had an office and staff in the executive office building. But Mulhern says he was focused more on steering their two daughters through adolescence and raising their youngest son, who is now a high school freshman.
The couple is famously close, but Mulhern says there were revelations as they were putting the book together.
"It was fun," he says. "It was fun for me to do the book with Jennifer because our lives were so busy that some of these stories I never heard the first time."
Like the fact that the very health-conscious Granholm resumed smoking for a short time during the tense negotiations with the Legislature that led to the brief government shutdown in 2007.
"I bummed a lot of cigarettes from the lieutenant governor," she says.
"A lot?" her husband responds.
"A lot for me! I don't smoke..."
The couple now lives in Berkley-California, where they both teach and write. Granholm also serves on corporate boards and offers commentary on NBC's "Meet the Press."
It's not in the book, but the former governor says she's through seeking elected offices.
It was originally Dan Mulhern who harbored political ambitions that he set aside for the sake of his wife's career. Now, he says, a second politician, a second political career in the family is not out of the question.
"Never say never - you never know."
At the same moment, his wife, the ex-governor, ends our interview so she can go pick up their fourteen-year-old son at school.