After listening to President Obama give a bullish analysis of the nation's once-bankrupt auto industry in a speech at the University of Michigan, Clarke met with the president aboard Air Force One to argue that Detroit might soon need the same sort of federal assistance.
"I went on Air Force One with one purpose: to talk to the president about emergency aid for Detroit," Clarke told MLive.com. "[M]y request is based on the fact that we want to avoid the city running out of cash in the next two months, but we also want to stabilize the situation in a way that will create jobs by making streets safer, better educating and training people for jobs."
Clarke said he is looking for targeted assistance from federal agencies under Obama’s jurisdiction such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The meeting came after Obama and the freshman Republican shared a unique moment at the State of the Union speech on Tuesday night. Obama hailed the success of his bailouts to the Michigan-based auto industry, saying, “what’s happening in Detroit can happen in other cities,” prompting Clarke to stand and applaud for several seconds, totally alone.
"I know it's a long shot, but I'm going for it," Clarke said of his request to the administration. "And I'm going for it publicly now.
"Bottom line, I'm asking for federal aid to avoid massive layoffs, especially for our public safety officers," he said. "That's what we actually need to attract businesses here who create jobs. We need safe streets and we need good schools."
This story was corrected at 2:25 to reflect the fact that Clarke is a Democrat.