Biden: Whitmer made VP list 'two months ago'

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Former Vice President Joe Biden signaled his interest in choosing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for his running mate in an interview clip released Tuesday.

In the segment from an interview with MSNBC’s Brian Williams, Biden said Whitmer “made the list in my mind two months ago.”

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave the Democratic party's response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Feb. 4, 2020 at East Lansing High School.

Biden’s answer came after Williams inquired whether any of the politicians at the front lines of the coronavirus epidemic, including Whitmer, had been added to his list of potential running mates.

About two months ago happens to coincide with when Michigan's governor gave one of the Democratic responses to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address. In the Feb. 4 televised speech, she highlighted the work of Democratic elected officials and argued Michigan workers "are hurting" and "wages have stagnated, while CEO pay has skyrocketed."

The first-term Democratic governor is a national campaign chair for Biden and has frequently clashed with Trump in recent days over the early handling of the coronavirus and the availability of supplies in Michigan. 

Whitmer’s endorsement of Biden in early March was one of several key Michigan endorsements that added to Biden’s momentum in Michigan, where he won the state primary by 16.5 percentage points over Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Whitmer brushed off the suggestion when asked about her interest in the position in interviews in March, noting it wasn't something she was "interested" in or "angling" for.

The governor was flattered by Williams’ question and Biden’s response, Whitmer’s spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said. 

“…but right now she is focused 100% on doing everything she can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the people of Michigan,” Brown said.

Michigan’s support is key for the 2020 election after Trump won the swing state by a 10,704 votes in 2016 over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Trump last week targeted Whitmer after she complained about the lack of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile and said supply orders that Michigan had placed were being delayed or diverted to the federal government. 

As of Sunday evening, the state had received 310,380 N95 respirator masks; 739,000 surgical masks; 371,190 latex gloves; 283,150 non-latex gloves; 148,608 face shields; 121,590 surgical gowns; and 3,853 coveralls.

On Friday, Trump told the press he warned Vice President Mike Pence not to call “the woman in Michigan.”

"I love Michigan, one of the reasons we are doing such a GREAT job for them during this horrible Pandemic," Trump tweeted.

"Yet your Governor, Gretchen 'Half' Whitmer is way in over her ahead, she doesn’t have a clue. Likes blaming everyone for her own ineptitude!"