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'Ridiculous,' 'scary,' 'distraction': Whitmer berates Trump for threats to cut off Mich. funding

The president had threatened to "hold up" federal funding to the state for sending absentee ballot applications to millions of voters.
Image: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer arrives for a press conference after several dams breached in Midland on May 20, 2020.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a news conference after several dams breached in Midland on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.Rebecca Cook / Reuters

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday slammed President Donald Trump’s threats to withhold federal funding from her state as “ridiculous,” a “distraction” and “scary.”

In an interview with “CBS This Morning,” Whitmer was asked about the president’s vow to withhold funding in response to Michigan's pursuit of mass mail-in voting.

She did not spare words.

“You can only imagine how I feel about that,” Whitmer, a Democrat, said.

"To have this kind of distraction is just ridiculous to be honest," the governor said. "The threatening to take money away from a state that is hurting as bad as we are right now is just scary, and, I think, something that is unacceptable.”

On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that he “will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” and said, falsely, that Michigan was sending "absentee ballots" to 7.7 million voters.

Trump said the move was done “illegally and without authorization from a rogue secretary of state." The president later corrected his tweet to refer to absentee ballot "applications."

Michigan's secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, also a Democrat, had said Tuesday that all registered voters in the state will be mailed applications for absentee ballots for the elections in August and November — not the absentee ballots themselves.

Trump, who has been battling Whitmer for weeks over her restrictive stay-at-home order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, later walked back his comments, telling reporters he didn't think it would be necessary to withhold funding from Michigan.

Later Thursday, Trump was scheduled to visit a factory near Detroit that has been repurposed to manufacture ventilators — a trip that Whitmer pleaded not include any “petty political stuff.”

Whitmer said she and Trump had no plans to meet, but said she made the case to him in a phone conversation on Wednesday that “we all have to be on the same page here. We have to stop demonizing one another and really focus on the fact that the common enemy is the virus.”

“This is what all the focus should be on,” she said, adding later, "We've got to be focused on doing the right thing right now on behalf of the people."