FILE — In this March 18, 2019, file photo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in Clawson, Mich. Whitmer has ordered a review of Michigan auto insurers’ use of non-driving factors to set premiums and their pricing of policies that coordinate medical coverage with drivers’ health insurance. The Democrat’s move Wednesday comes as Republican lawmakers prepare to soon unveil legislation designed to reduce what on average are the country’s highest car insurance rates. Whitmer says the state must take a “hard look” at how insurers set rates to ensure their practices are lawful. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, spent a lot of time last week disparaging President Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis. She went so far as to imply that Trump Administration officials were blocking vendors’ attempts to ship much needed medical supplies to the state. And every step of the way, she was aided by a compliant media.
A major disaster declaration renders a state eligible to receive increased federal funding and other forms of assistance. A report in the Detroit Free Press said that, as of March 26, FEMA “had not yet received a request for a major disaster declaration.” My colleague, Brad Slager posted about this here.
Whitmer joined NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday who asked if she still believed that the President was punishing Michigan or if she had perhaps been mistaken:
Chuck Todd: You seemed to imply late in the week that you thought the federal government, or perhaps President Trump, was punishing Michigan in your attempts to procure different medical items. Do you have any – do you still believe that is happening or do you believe that you were mistaken?
Gov. Whitmer: No, you know, here’s what I said. What we are doing is placing all of these orders. We are contracting. We are trying to procure this, in addition to the help we need from the federal government and – like, Massachusetts, like New York, like California, like places all across the country, we’re bidding against one another. J.B. Pritzker from Illinois observed that same thing and then we get a notice that it’s going – being directed to, you know, the federal government and I think that’s a frustration point that is not unique to Michigan, but it’s certainly a part of the issue that we’re all confronting.
There’s not enough ventilators. We need thousands of ventilators in Michigan. There is not enough N-95 masks. We’ve got nurses who are wearing the same mask from the minute they show up for their long shift to the end of that shift.
You know, we’ve got to slow the spread and and that’s why, you know, the stay-at-home orders asking people to do their part – people need to understand the seriousness of this issue. It’s a novel virus with no cure, no vaccine, highly contagious and deadly. No one’s immune from this thing. No generation is. And that why staying home and keeping this virus from being transmitted from person-to-person is really the best tool we have.
But we’ve got to keep working to get all of these other pieces of equipment and when we’re bidding against one another, it’s creating a lot of frustration and concern. And that’s exactly what I was trying to convey and things – the same thing that’s been conveyed by others on both sides of the aisle.
In other words, now that everybody knows she was late in submitting the paperwork, she can no longer blame it on Trump.
But, why did she blame it on Trump in the first place?
Donald Trump Jr. believes she was trying to hurt his father’s popularity in the state ahead of the election. He may be right. Following her ridiculous non-answer to Chuck Todd’s question, he tweeted, “So it appears the governor of Michigan lied about what was actually going on to try to hurt Trump in Michigan. Typical Democrat politics and typical media response…also absolutely disgusting. Don’t they have bigger stuff to worry about?”
He may be right. Although Michigan is a very blue state, President Trump managed to defeat Hillary Clinton by a paper-thin margin of .23%. He wound up winning the state by 10,704 votes out of a total of 4,548,382 cast.
Polling data leading up to the election showed Trump behind Clinton in Michigan by 5-7 points. To give you an idea of how blue the state is, Michigan’s 16 electoral votes have gone to the Democrat in the previous seven presidential elections. In 2012, Obama defeated Romney by a 9.5% margin.
Trump held a well-attended rally in Battle Creek, MI on December 18 at the very hour that the House of Representatives was voting to impeach him. Over 20,000 people attended the rally, including several thousand Michigan Democrats. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who collects data from each attendee, reported that 17% of those who showed up that evening were Democrats. That number is actually down slightly from his average Democratic presence per rally of 23%, but in a state as blue as Michigan, it’s phenomenal.
Incredible Rally tonight in Battle Creek Michigan!
✅ 20,202 voters identified (92.2% from MI)
✅ 15% haven’t voted in last four elections, WOW!
✅ 15% have voted in only one of the last four elections
✅ 17% Democrats
Dems play theater while @realDonaldTrump is winning!
— Brad Parscale – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@parscale) December 19, 2019
In the end, this was likely one of several reasons why Whitmer tried to give the impression that Michigan was being singled out.
As mentioned earlier, her administration was late in filing the necessary documents for a major disaster declaration with FEMA. It was much easier to blame “Trump officials” than to admit she was responsible for the delay. Additionally, some have suggested Whitmer has been “running” for the vice presidency. She would love to be Biden’s running mate. And, maybe the most important consideration of all is, that the press, eager for even the tiniest morsel of criticism about Trump, pounced on this story and it escalated from there.