Gretchen Whitmer urges both sides to ‘stand up’ against violent rhetoric and threats as she begins second term



CNN

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, sworn in for a second term on Sunday, called “just” the sentencing of two men convicted of plotting to kidnap her, while urging both sides to face threats and violent rhetoric.

“Whether it’s someone harassing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh or Congressman Fred Upton here in Michigan, or me, or our attorney general, or secretary of state, that’s unacceptable,” he said. she told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in an interview the day she was sworn in. “But I think it’s important that people on both sides of the aisle, who care more about our democracy than their political agenda, stand up and embrace it.”

Thirteen people have been charged in the kidnapping plot, with the group discussing sending a bomb to the governor. The co-ringleaders were sentenced last week to 16 and nearly 20 years in federal prison, respectively, after prosecutors sought life sentences in their two cases.

Whitmer, who had faced an unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and issued stay-at-home orders that made her a target, expressed concern about the way the plot was portrayed, saying: “There are has a tendency to downplay some of these threats.”

“They weren’t going to redeem me, they weren’t going to keep me, they were going to murder me. And the plot was covered up as a kidnapping plot,” she said. “There was a person who showed up, you know, on a Supreme Court justice’s lawn and turned himself in, and it was covered up as an assassination attempt. And so I think when you look at the facts of these two, and you see how differently they’re treated, I’m, you know, concerned about the language that we’re using, especially when women are a target as opposed to men.”

The Justice Department has charged the man who was arrested near Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland with attempting or threatening to kidnap or murder a US judge.

Whitmer, first elected governor in 2018, said the threat against her had “changed the way I assess situations” and “changed my concern for all the people around me”.

“I would be lying if I told you I’m unfazed,” she said, adding, “I think it’s important to understand, I’m an ordinary person. I have an extraordinary job and I’ve served in extraordinary times. I am a mother. I am a daughter.

After the challenges of the past few years, Whitmer said she was “delighted” to begin a new term.

“There was so much chaos, politically and in the environment, I didn’t know if I would have, you know, the opportunity to serve for four more years,” the Democratic governor said. “I never imagined winning by almost 11 points and coming up with a whole new legislature.”

Whitmer won a resounding victory in November, beating his Republican challenger Tudor Dixon 55% to 44%, while the Democrats also won a majority in the Michigan legislature – giving them control of both houses and the governorship for the first time in nearly four decades. Among his top priorities, Whitmer listed public education, economic development, protection of the Great Lakes, and access to clean water and high-speed internet. She also mentioned the retirement tax repeal that Republicans passed in the last Parliament and winning a 1931 state law banning abortion “off the books.”

With her re-election in a pivotal state, Whitmer cemented her status as a national Democratic Party figure, but she brushed aside speculation of a 2024 White House bid without completely shutting the door on running for anything else down the line. .

“I think doing my job well is the best way to contribute to the National Democratic Party – is to be able to be someone they can point to and say, ‘That’s what happens when you elect people. Democrats,'” she said. , reflecting on how her 2022 campaign “talked about abortion in the most personal terms” and how she thinks it contributed to the success of Democrats.

She predicts President Joe Biden will run for the White House again in 2024, telling CNN he would have her “enthusiastic support” if he did.

“I have no intention of running for anything other than to spend the next four years serving this state as governor with a majority Democratic legislature for the first time in a long time,” Whitmer said, while noting that she felt the same when she left the state legislature in 2015, later running for governor in 2018.

“I know enough about myself to know if there’s something that needs to be done, and if there’s a role I can play, I’ll want to play it,” she said.

But whether she shows up again for something or not, Whitmer said she’ll “stay engaged one way or another,” reflecting on what’s to come after the Governor’s mansion. “Michigan will always play an outsized role in national politics, so I look forward to making sure our voices have an impact and that Michigan gets what we need and we have leaders who serve every person.”


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