WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday said U.S. President Donald Trump’s criticism of her at a rally was “incredibly disturbing” after he called her “dishonest” and drew shouts of “lock her up” from the crowd.
Whitmer, the target an alleged kidnapping plot that was uncovered by the FBI earlier this month, accused Trump of inciting domestic terrorism with his rhetoric. The Democratic governor was speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Trump at a rally in Michigan on Saturday slammed her support for restrictions to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has surged in parts of the United States in recent weeks.
During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s criticism of Whitmer irresponsible.
“The president has to realize that the words of the president of the United States weigh a ton,” Pelosi, the top elected Democrat, said. “The biggest antidote to his poison is the vote,” she said.
Trump faces re-election on Nov. 3 and trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden in public opinion polls. The Republican president won Michigan narrowly in 2016, but Biden currently has an edge in that battleground state, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos survey of likely voters.
For an interactive look at Reuters polling, including on the U.S. election, open (polling.reuters.com/) in a separate browser.
Trump’s remarks targeting Whitmer led to chants of “lock her up” at the rally on Saturday, a phrase Trump supporters often directed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in 2016.
“It’s got to end,” Whitmer said. “It is dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans.”
Trump and Whitmer have clashed over Michigan’s coronavirus restrictions for months.
When thousands of protesters, including armed militia members, converged on the state capitol in Lansing in April to protest Whitmer’s social-distancing measures, Trump encouraged the demonstrators, tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
The conflict returned to the spotlight this month when 14 people were arrested and charged with crimes related to a plot to kidnap Whitmer.
Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller told “Fox News Sunday” Trump had no regrets about what he said during Saturday’s rally about Whitmer, or joining in the chants.
“Not at all,” Miller said. “I think the fact of the matter is that many residents of Michigan are pretty frustrated with the governor. They want to see the state open back up.”
Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and a Trump campaign senior adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the president “was having fun” and that Americans faced more pressing issues.
Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Chris Sanders and Matthew Lewis