WASHINGTON — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday night that Republicans are not helping average Americans by improving health care — and she brought up the president's impeachment.
Whitmer, 48, noted how she juggled working a new job while caring for her newborn daughter and her mother, who had brain cancer.
"It was hard. It exposed the harsh realities of our workplaces, our health care system and our child care system. And it changed me," she said.
Whitmer said that, as a state senator, she worked with a Republican governor and Legislature to expand health care coverage to more than 680,000 Michigan residents.
"It's pretty simple. Democrats are trying to make your health care better. Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away," she said.
Whitmer reiterated several times that the GOP-controlled Senate is blocking proposals passed by House Democrats. She also suggested that voters should consider how senators vote on Wednesday when they take a vote that's expected to result in Trump's acquittal.
"As we witness the impeachment process in Washington there are some things each of us — no matter our party — should demand. The truth matters. Facts matter. And no one should be above the law," she said. "It's not what those senators say tomorrow, it's what they do that matters."
Throughout her remarks, Whitmer referred to Democratic governors across the U.S., such as Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly "working across the aisle to bring Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands" and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham who "enshrined ACA protections into state law."
She also noted that the health care plans promoted by each Democrat running for president this year all have something in common.
"Every Democrat running for president has a plan to expand health coverage for all Americans. Every one of them has supported the Affordable Care Act with coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. They may have different plans, but the goal is the same," she said.
Whitmer added that it "doesn't matter" what Trump says about the gains in the stock market because millions of people are struggling to pay for prescription drugs, student loans and transportation.
"American workers are hurting. In my own state. Our neighbors in Wisconsin. And Ohio. And Pennsylvania. All over the country," she said. "Wages have stagnated, while CEO pay has skyrocketed."
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Whitmer has been governor since January 2019. She previously was a county prosecutor and the minority leader of the state Senate.
Democratic leaders invited Whitmer to deliver the Democratic response. She represents a key battleground state in the Midwest, where Trump showed surprising strength in the 2016 presidential election and where Democrats are focusing ahead of November's election.
Whitmer was elected during the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats made a comeback, to succeed GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, who served during the Flint water crisis.