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Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer slammed President Donald Trump for holding a rally in her state amid a pandemic immediately before voicing approval for an event scheduled for Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Whitmer appeared Tuesday on CNN and called Trump’s event, scheduled for Thursday, “distressing” because of the chance of spreading the coronavirus. She added that in the case of Biden’s event, scheduled for Wednesday, she trusted that the organizers are “following the science” regarding the coronavirus.
“It’s distressing, to say the least,” Whitmer said, referring to the Trump campaign rally. “You know, we have been following the science here in Michigan. We have a mask mandate, we’ve got gathering rules to ensure that we don’t have super-spreader events, yet, we anticipate that he will be descending on this state, and perhaps encouraging people to come mask-less and come together in the ways that we’ve seen them happening across the country, and I think this is very distressing.”
“We’ve pushed our curve down. We’ve saved thousands of lives. We’ve gotten people back to work, and events like this threaten all that we’ve made and I would love to see the leader of our country embrace masks and encourage people to do the right thing,” Whitmer continued. “This is an economic crisis. This is a public health crisis. We’ve got to get serious about it and focus on getting this right.”
Later in the interview, the governor said that although Michiganders are generally following social distancing rules, some people showing up to Trump’s rally will “take the lead” from the president, shun masks, and “subject themselves to COVID-19.”
“The fact of the matter is we’ve been educating our public. People understand the science, they get it. The vast majority of people in the state are doing the right thing. I don’t doubt that there are people who will show up at that event and will take the lead from the man himself and drop their guard and could subject themselves to COVID-19,” she said.
Trump has touted wearing masks, when social distancing is not possible, as “patriotic.” Whitmer went on to contrast the Trump event with one planned by Biden’s campaign and to praise Biden’s team for “scrupulously following the science.”
“The fact of the matter is that we’ve got Joe Biden coming into town tomorrow. I know that they are scrupulously following the science. They want to keep their supporters and the general public safe,” she said. “Whether you are going to one event on Wednesday or the other on Thursday, I’m going to do everything I can to keep the people of this state safe whether they are supportive of all the measures we’ve taken or not, my job is to protect the people of this state.”
Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she sees the presidential race tightening.
"The big question people are gonna ask is 'are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?'"
she says. "…For the working class in this state… the answer is unequivocally 'no.'" pic.twitter.com/HwrkECsdxo
— CNN (@CNN) September 9, 2020
Michigan state lawmakers and others have criticized Whitmer for her coronavirus response, and most significantly over her policies regarding nursing and long-term care homes. The Department of Justice has stepped in and requested that Michigan, along with three other states, turn over data on the virus’s impact on nursing homes in the state. Michigan was late to track the data and rolled out a database in late May, more than two months after the lockdowns began in the U.S. over the pandemic.