Whitmer on Trump's response to kidnapping plot: “I don't think it's funny”

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer slammed President Trump for downplaying the alleged kidnapping plot against her, accusing him of stoking a “mob mentality” toward public officials.

“I don’t think it’s funny,” she said of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric during an interview with CBS News on Wednesday. “And anyone who thinks it’s funny has a real twisted sense of what humor is.” Whitmer spoke with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast, which will air in full on Friday.

During a rally in Lansing, Michigan, on Tuesday, Mr. Trump blasted Whitmer for imposing stay-at-home orders earlier in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. When the president first mentioned the Michigan governor’s name, the crowd began chanting, “lock her up.” Mr. Trump responded, “I don’t comment on that because every time, if I make just even a little bit of a nod, they say, ‘the president led them on.’ Now, I don’t have to lead you on.” Mr. Trump also said of the alleged plot against Whitmer, “Maybe it was a problem, maybe it wasn’t.”

Whitmer drew a direct link between Mr. Trump’s words and the threats she received.

“Every time he sets his sights on me, I get more death threats. The violent rhetoric has an uptick. And there’s no question that it’s had an impact,” Whitmer told Garrett. “I’ve had to have conversations with my teenage children about why there’s people with AR-15s on our front lawn on more than one occasion. People are looking for any hook to legitimize these domestic terrorism tendencies. And I think that Donald Trump knows that, and it’s not a coincidence, and he’s feeding it.”

She also noted that Michigan had not been under stay-at-home orders since June, so the president is “propagating things that are demonstrably false,” Whitmer said, for the purpose of “feeding into the anxiety and fear and anger that people have.”

“I think that the mob mentality that has been stoked, the fear that has been exploited, the anger that has been incited, is real and it has real impacts,” Whitmer said.

She argued that Mr. Trump’s response to the plot against her “tells you everything you need to know about the character of this president.”

To underplay “what is the most serious plan to hurt a governor in our nation I think shows an incredibly callous approach to looking at everything through a lens of what does it mean for himself, as opposed to what it means for the good of our country, the health of our people and the welfare of our democracy,” Whitmer said.

The Michigan governor, who is the co-chair for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, also discussed the upcoming election and Biden’s prospects for winning her state. Mr. Trump narrowly won Michigan in 2016.

Whitmer says she believes Biden will win Michigan, but cautioned that “we’re not taking anything for granted.” She noted that people were voting early in person and by absentee in the state, with 2.2 million ballots already received.

“The historic turnout I think we’re going to see is really good news for Joe Biden,” Whitmer said.

She also argued that the enthusiasm for Biden matches enthusiasm for the president. Unlike Mr. Trump’s large, crowded events, where there is limited social distancing and few people wear facial coverings, she said the Biden campaign is holding events like drive-in rallies that keep attendees safe.

“I see a lot of enthusiasm for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” Whitmer said. “I do think that the enthusiasm will be revealed in the sheer number of people that are coming out to vote.”

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