Dixon targets pandemic policies, inflation burden during CPAC address

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon urged conservatives this weekend to support her campaign in a speech that criticized Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's pandemic policies and linked the Democratic governor to the Biden administration's struggles to rein in inflation.

Dixon made the comments at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas ahead of comments from conservative radio host Glenn Beck, Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and former President Donald Trump. 

Dixon, a Norton Shores businesswoman and conservative commentator, linked Whitmer to high inflation and gas prices under Biden's administration and warned that, if she wasn't voted out, she may continue on to run for federal office. 

"It's been a long four years under Gretchen Whitmer's tyrannical rein," Dixon said. "She's been ridin' with Biden and they've been driving our state off a cliff."

Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon speaks Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022 at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Committee in Dallas, Texas.

Dixon criticized Whitmer's policies during the pandemic, specifically those related to nursing homes and schools. 

"Gretchen Whitmer ruled by fear when courage was what we needed," Dixon said. 

Michigan Democratic Party spokeswoman Rodericka Applewhaite described Dixon's Texas address as an effort to court special interests for contributions in exchange for "pushing their agenda to gut public education, return to decades of disinvestment in Michigan’s infrastructure, and ban abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother.”

Dixon has said she supports an exception to the state's abortion ban if made to save the life of the mother.

Acknowledging Trump's expected address to cap the convention, which was running behind schedule, Dixon noted she also had to wait on the president — a reference to former president's endorsement of Dixon just four days before Michigan's Tuesday primary. 

Trump, in his Saturday address, said he hoped Dixon could "straighten the state out" and offered condolences to Dixon on the passing of her father, who died in June. 

"Your father's looking down on you right now and he's so proud," he said. 

Trump called Whitmer the "lockdown queen" and criticized her husband, Marc Mallory, who in May 2020 tried to speed up the placement of his boat in the water at their cottage in Antrim County before the Memorial Day weekend as Whitmer urged residents not to rush to northern Michigan. Whitmer called Mallory's request, which included mention of his connection to the governor, a "failed attempt at humor."

"Everybody was shut down but her husband," Trump said. 

Trump also acknowledged Republican attorney general nominee Matt DePerno, who was in the CPAC audience Saturday. 

"He is so tough," Trump said of DePerno. "People are afraid to be in the same room as him."

Whitmer's campaign spokesman Joseph Costello defended Whitmer's record by noting her efforts to offer car insurance refunds, tuition-free higher education options and record K-12 investments to Michigan residents.

"Tudor Dixon’s backwards agenda would dismantle public education in Michigan, ban abortion without exceptions, and risk Michigan’s economic progress," Costello said.

Dixon won the state's Tuesday primary with 41% of the vote in a five-candidate race, taking 80 of Michigan's 83 counties.

In Whitmer, Dixon faces an opponent with a significant national profile, a huge fundraising lead and a 55% job approval rating last month.

Biden, on the other hand, had a job approval rating of about 38% among 600 likely Michigan general election voters surveyed in a July 5-8 statewide poll commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Channel 4).