WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Friday he has asked Vice President Mike Pence not to call governors he says have not been “appreciative” enough of his efforts on coronavirus – a group of critics that included a governor he referred to only by gender,
“Don’t call the woman in Michigan,” Trump said at a press conference while discussing Pence’s work as head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
That governor – Gretchen Whitmer – replied on Twitter that “right now, we all need to be focused on fighting the virus, not each other.”
“I’m willing to work with anyone as long as we get the personal protective equipment we need for the people of Michigan,” she said.
Trump told reporters that most – but not all – governors have been appreciative of his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I want them to be appreciative,” he said. “I don’t want them to say things that aren’t true.”
Asked which governors he was referring to, Trump slammed Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, calling him “a failed presidential candidate.”
Whitmer, he said, “has no idea what’s going on, and all she does is say it’s the federal government’s fault.”
It’s not the first time Trump and Whitmer have clashed over the federal government’s coronavirus response.
Earlier this month, Trump attacked Whitmer in a tweet after she told MSNBC that “the federal government did not take this seriously early enough.”
During an interview with Fox New’s Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Trump claimed the Michigan governor – whose name he forgot – is “not stepping up. I don’t know if she knows what’s going on. But all she does is sit there and blame the federal government.”
“Hi, my name is Gretchen Whitmer, and that governor is me,” Whitmer shot back on Twitter. “I’ve asked repeatedly and respectfully for help. We need it. No more political attacks, just PPEs, ventilators, N95 masks, test kits.”
She added: “You said you stand with Michigan — prove it.”
Trump said during the Fox News interview that he loves the people of Michigan and “Michigan is a very important state.”
Indeed it is. The Trump campaign’s 2016 victory in Michigan – the first for a GOP presidential candidate in that state since 1988 – helped provide him his margin of victory in the Electoral College. Michigan is a key state to his re-election.
Though Trump doesn’t want Pence to talk to Whitmer, he suggested the vice president is unlikely to take that advice.
“He’ll call quietly anyway,” Trump said.
Contributing: Courtney Subramanian
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