Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer condemned behavior at President Donald Trump’s rally in her state, saying chants of “lock her up” from the audience, and Trump’s response, were part of “exactly the rhetoric” that’s endangered her and her family.
The incident came as Trump, speaking in Muskegon, escalated his criticism of the “radical left” over efforts to remove statues of historical figures linked to slavery during a rally in Michigan, as the state’s governor said his
Trump told supporters that one of the most important issues in his race against Democrat Joe Biden is “the radical left’s plan to erase American history, purge American values and destroy the American way of life and that’s what they’re trying to do.”
He mocked discussions about removing statues that have gained currency in recent months after nationwide protests drew attention to police brutality against people of color.
“This election will decide whether we preserve our magnificent heritage or whether we allow far left radicals to wipe it all away,” he said.
Earlier this month, federal authorities charged right-wing militia members in connection with a plot to overthrow the government of Michigan by storming the Capitol, kidnapping Whitmer, and trying her for treason. Whitmer, a Democrat, blamed Trump for creating an environment that encourages radical criminal behavior.
“You got to get your governor to open up your state,” Trump said at the Muskegon rally. The crowd responded with a “lock her up” chant, to which Trump replied “lock ‘em all up.”
While Trump’s rally continued, Whitmer tweeted: “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. It needs to stop.”
The president in April issued tweets urging citizens to “liberate” Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, amid lockdowns in place at the time to combat the coronavirus pandemic. All three are led by Democratic governors.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said that the kidnapping plot took root prior to Trump’s tweets.
Lee Chatfield, the Republican Speaker of the Michigan House, who also spoke at Trump’s rally, disavowed the “lock her up” chants. “It was wrong,” he said on Twitter. “She was literally just targeted. Let’s debate differences. Let’s win elections. But not that.”
Trump held a second rally in Janesville, Wisconsin, on Saturday night where for about 90 minutes he kept up attacks on Biden and Biden’s family, selected Democratic lawmakers, including Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker, and Whitmer, again.
He also hit familiar targets like members of the media including Savannah Guthrie, moderator of his town hall meeting on NBC Thursday night, and NBC’s Kristen Walker, who’ll moderate the Trump-Biden debate set for Oct. 22.
The president will fly on to Las Vegas Saturday night ahead of a rally in Carson City, Nevada, on Sunday.