'It needs to stop': Whitmer blasts Trump over Michigan rally rhetoric

Source: Politico | October 17, 2020 | Nick Niedzwiadek

Trump was speaking in Western Michigan as part of a swing through the Rust Belt.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer excoriated President Donald Trump for continuing his incendiary rhetoric toward her at a Saturday campaign rally in the wake of an alleged plot to kidnap her.

Speaking in Western Michigan as part of a swing through the Rust Belt, Trump urged Whitmer to loosen restrictions on economic activity enacted to curtail the spread of coronavirus, which is surging in the region.

“You’ve got to get your governor to open up your state,” he said to cheers. “And get your schools open.”

Trump’s supporters erupted into chants of “lock her up” — a refrain from the 2016 campaign originally lobbed at Hillary Clinton, but since repurposed against Whitmer and other high-profile Democrats — which Trump did little to dissuade.

“Lock ‘em all up,” he said before pausing to soak up energy in the crowd.

The striking visual quickly came to Whitmer’s attention, who responded while the president was still speaking.

“This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans,” she tweeted. “It needs to stop.”

Trump and other critics of the measures taken by governors to combat the virus — which has now infected more than 8 million Americans and killed at least 210,000 across the country — had singled out Whitmer, a freshman governor in a battleground state, on numerous occasions. In April Trump tweeted in all caps “Liberate Michigan” and more recently derided her as the “lock-up queen.”

Earlier this month federal and state law enforcement officials announced an array of charges — including violations of Michigan’s anti-terrorism statute — against at least seven people in connection with an elaborate plot to kidnap and possibly harm the governor.

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