Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer appeared on The View Wednesday for a mostly easy interview full of softballs about her response to COVID-19, from the sympathetic liberal hosts. It seemed the interview was just another opportunity for Whitmer to bash critics of her harsh lockdown rules as violent racists. In fact, Meghan McCain was the only host to push back on the Democrat’s hateful rhetoric.
Co-host Whoopi Goldberg immediately offered Whitmer the chance to attack Michiganders protesting her, with her first softball question:
“Not only are you trying to keep everyone safe, you're also dealing with armed protesters against your stay-at-home orders. These protesters, are they hindering the state's ability to contain the virus in any way?” Whoopi posed.
After repeating much of what she’s said in other interviews justifying her policies, co-host Sunny Hostin invited Whitmer to explain just how racist these protests were, and how the administration was “fueling” them:
Governor, you know, I was really struck by the fact that you have described the protests as some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history, and you even said there were swastikas, confederate flags and nooses present. On a recent call, you asked Vice President Pence if he could discourage the protesters. Do you think you will get his support and given Trump's tweets to liberate Michigan, make a deal with protesters, do you feel the administration is helping fuel the fire here?
Whitmer again bashed the lockdown protests as “calls to violence” that were “racist and misogynistic.” Former View co-host Sara Haines was filling in for the absent Joy Behar. She continued to portray Whitmer as the victim, asking her if she was “fearful” of violent protesters:
You have become the target of vicious, violent private Facebook groups that say you should be beaten and lynched. Some of those people plan to attend a rally at the state capitol this Thursday, and also this week, the capitol commission delayed the decision on banning firearms. Are you at all fearful for your personal safety?
Whitmer’s poor-me routine was briefly interrupted by a pointed question from Meghan McCain:
Maybe it's the opinion of politicians that these protesters are just violent racists, but the Michigan state legislature has actually filed a lawsuit against you, claiming that your state of emergency extension to May 28th is unlawful. Since they did not approve it, are you acting beyond your authority here, and do you understand why there are so many concerned citizens about government overreach at this point?
Whitmer justified her decisions by saying she was “on the right side of the Constitution.”
The hosts could've asked her about her controversial decision to target a 77-year-old barber in court, or following Governor Cuomo's deadly decision to put COVID-positive seniors in nursing home hubs so they can infect the high-risk population there. But since she is a Democrat, that was the most criticism she faced on the show.
The hosts also asked Whitmer about her chances of being Joe Biden’s running mate, and asked her what she thought about Tara Reade’s allegations against Biden.
Read the relevant portions in the transcript, below:
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: You're also dealing with armed protesters against your stay-at-home orders. These protesters, are they hindering the state's ability to contain the virus in any way?
WHITMER: I'll start with this. You know, Michigan is a state of almost 10 million people, and the vast majority of people in my state are doing the right thing, and they are taking this seriously. I am going to stay tethered to the science, the epidemiology, I’m going to make decisions based on facts and not the political rhetoric or tweets for that matter because what we're doing is working. We have seen our trajectory drop. We have seen our ability to test ramp up and the number of positives continue to decline. What we're doing is working. So these protests, they do undermine the effort and it's very clearly a political statement that is playing out where people are coming together from across the state. They are congregating. They are not wearing masks. They are not staying six feet apart, and then they go back home into communities and the risk of perpetuating the the spread of COVID-19 is real. We've seen it happen, and that's why, you know, while I respect people's right to dissent, they need to do it in a way that is responsible and does not put others at risk.
SUNNY HOSTIN: Governor, you know, I was really struck by the fact that you have described the protests as some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history, and you even said there were swastikas, confederate flags and nooses present. On a recent call, you asked Vice President Pence if he could discourage the protesters. Do you think you will get his support and given Trump's tweets to liberate Michigan, make a deal with protesters, do you feel the administration is helping fuel the fire here?
WHITMER: Well, I do think that the fact of the matter is these protests, you know, in a perverse way make it likelier that we're going to have to stay in a stay-at-home posture. The whole point of them supposedly is they don't want to be doing that, and that's why I'm asking that everyone with a platform call on people to do the right thing. You know, these have been -- these have been really political rallies where people come with confederate flags and Nazi symbolism and calling for violence. This is not appropriate in a global pandemic, but it's certainly not an exercise of democratic principles where we have free speech. This is calls to violence. This is racist and misogynistic and I ask that everyone who has a platform uses it to call on people to observe the best practices promulgated by the CDC, and to stop encouraging this behavior because it only makes it that much more precarious for us to try to reengage our economy which is what everyone says they want us to be able to do.
SARA HAINES: Governor Whitmer, this is Sara. You have become the target of vicious, violent private Facebook groups that say you should be beaten and lynched. Some of those people plan to attend a rally at the state capitol this Thursday, and also this week, the capitol commission delayed the decision on banning firearms. Are you at all fearful for your personal safety?
WHITMER: Well, I would be not truthful if I said it didn't bother me. It certainly does. I'm fortunate that the Michigan state police is an incredibly talented professional organization that oversees the security of myself and my family and I'm grateful for that, but the fact of the matter is the Michigan capitol is one of the few capitols in the country where people can come with bearing arms, and what we saw last week and what we anticipate seeing tomorrow is those arms being used to intimidate others, to -- being brandished in a way that is to strike fear into others, and that is not legal activity. So this is a terribly concerning development in that we have legislators who are showing up to work wearing bulletproof vests. That is disenfranchising thousands of people in our state if their legislator doesn't feel safe enough to go to work and do what their job is. No one should stand in our way of doing our jobs and I respect people's right to dissent, but that does not extend to endangering other people’s lives and we take it very seriously.
MEGHAN MCCAIN: Governor, it's Meghan. Maybe it's the opinion of politicians that these protesters are just violent racists, but the Michigan state legislature has actually filed a lawsuit against you, claiming that your state of emergency extension to May 28th is unlawful. Since they did not approve it, are you acting beyond your authority here, and do you understand why there are so many concerned citizens about government overreach at this point?
WHITMER: Of course, and you know what? I think that that is a robust debate that we should absolutely have. The fact of the matter is every decision that I have made has been on the right side of the Constitution and always centered by epidemiology, science, facts and to save lives. Michigan's had a uniquely tough time with COVID-19. We are the tenth largest state by population in this country, and yet for many weeks we had the third highest number of COVID-19 cases. We still are number three when it comes to the number of deaths in our country, and that's required that we take this seriously, that we take action. We've seen our numbers show that this action is working. We have undoubtedly saved lives, and anyone who is contributing to people not observing the best practices and endangering others is undermining all of that work.
We've taken these actions. We can't let all of the sacrifice that's been made be made in vain and watch people drop social distancing and go back to life as normal, and run the risk of -- the very real risk of a second wave. Dr. Fauci has talked quite a bit about the fact that this is a very real possibility, and we want to do everything we can to avoid that so that we can start to re engage our economy in a really smart way that protects people's health, but Michigan's had an incredibly tough time with COVID-19. These actions we have taken have worked, and I'm confident that it's -- so long as we make decisions around the best science and the public health of our state, we are on the right side of my constitutional authority and I'm going to keep doing my job.
MCCAIN: Yes, governor. We just wanted -- we were cut off before and you didn't get a chance to respond to my question. I just want to give you an opportunity.
WHITMER: Yeah. So I think, you know, your question about have we been too restrictive. You know because we have had this uniquely tough challenge with covid-19. It took uniquely a tough stance to be aggressive and to combat the spread, and we have had a lot of success because of it. Now the question, have we been too restrictive? The numbers will show that what we have done is working. We are in the midst of reengaging and have a six-phase plan for reengaging. We're now on the third phase where manufacturing has started this week. Suppliers are starting to phase in and the big three will start their phase next week. We're making progress. No one is more eager than I to start this reengagement of the economy and see it through. But everyone has to do their part so we can move phase to phase and keep going forward.
That means still observing social distancing, wearing the mask, staying 6 feet apart, washing your hands more frequently, not having crowds gather, and we've got to grit our teeth and keep doing the work because it's paying off.
SUNNY HOSTIN: Governor, it just seems to me that your stay-at-home orders haven't been more restrictive perhaps than those of Governor Cuomo's. Why do you think that you have been such a target?
WHITMER: Well, we know that there are a lot of different theories to that. Michigan certainly is in play in the 2020 election. Michigan's a state where people are watching. We're also a state that had, you know, this massive increase early on with COVID-19, and the city of Detroit has stepped up and, you know, the state of Michigan has stepped up. We have been doing a lot of things right here, but people have been paying attention for a lot of different reasons. The fact of the matter is though we can't make decisions based on politics. We can't make decisions based on feeling. We have to listen to the science, and the data, and the epidemiology, and our public health experts at the University of Michigan are front and center in the work that we're doing, and it's paying off and we're going to continue to make decisions based on that data.