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Whitmer: Politics not at play in criticism of federal virus response

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer denied Sunday that politics is at play in her criticism of the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Whitmer said that she is "grateful" for partnerships with federal agencies and that she is doing her job by telling people "what I think we can do better."

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has climbed across the country, Whitmer, a Democrat, has repeatedly called for an improved national strategy to combat the virus. She's also drawn personal criticisms from President Donald Trump, who's alleged she's in "way in over her ahead."

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appears on "Fox News Sunday" on Sunday, April 5, 2020.

In a tweet on March 27, Trump said Whitmer "doesn’t have a clue" and "likes blaming everyone for her own ineptitude."

"None of the comments that I have made have been a personal attack in nature," Whitmer said Sunday. "I don’t do that kind of thing. I got elected in a state that voted for President Trump in 2016 and then voted overwhelmingly for me. I won by almost 10 points in 2018. I don’t wage those kinds of political attacks. What I do, though, is I speak truth to power."

Host Chris Wallace mentioned feuding between Whitmer, whom former Vice President Joe Biden says he's considering as a potential running made, and Trump, who would be Biden's opponent if he gets the nomination.

"Not on my part," Whitmer responded to the question of politics being at play.

The governor said she didn't ask to be thrust into the national spotlight and doesn't like "attacks." She also noted that she's had conversations with both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

"I’m doing my job and part of my job is telling people what I’ve learned, what I think we can do better and what we are going to continue to do to protect people," Whitmer said.

The appearance came a day after Michigan's COVID-19 death toll climbed to 540. The state now has 14,225 confirmed cases, the third highest total nationally, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

Whitmer said some hospitals in Michigan are at capacity and the state doesn't have enough personal protective equipment for health care workers.

"It’s growing exponentially," Whitmer said Sunday. "We are seeing that it doesn’t discriminate based on city line, state line, party line. This is something that is aggressively growing in all age groups, all across our most populous part of the state."