Whitmer to attend Trump meeting with bipartisan governors-elect

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer

Washington — Michigan Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer is heading to Washington this week to meet with President Donald Trump and other incoming governors at the White House. 

The East Lansing Democrat's attendance at Thursday's meeting — which was announced as part of Trump's public schedule — was confirmed Monday by Whitmer's transition team. 

“Gov.-elect Whitmer will be part of a bipartisan group of governors-elect attending this meeting at the White House," Whitmer spokeswoman Clare Liening said by email. 

“This is an opportunity to make sure Michigan has a voice at the table and find common ground on the issues that will be most important to our state moving forward — including federal trade policies, access to affordable health care, protecting our Great Lakes resources and moving forward on critical infrastructure improvements."

During the campaign season, Whitmer promised she’d “stand up” to the Republican president if he tries weaken health care laws, panned his immigration policies and criticized his administration's plan to gut funding for a federal Great Lakes cleanup program.

In June, she issued a statement calling on Trump to end the policy of separating young children from their families at the Southern border, calling on Republican leaders in Michigan to condemn the practice.

“As a mom, I can’t think of anything more devastating than what these families are going through, and I can’t imagine having my daughters ripped out of my arms," Whitmer said.

"This is absolutely unconscionable, and by separating children from their parents, President Trump is threatening our moral high ground and our standing in the world as leaders. We are better than this in America and we are better than this in Michigan."

Generally, Whitmer didn't mention Trump's name on the trail. 

"At a time when we see too many people trying to divide us through walls, I think we in Michigan need to get back to building bridges," she said in her victory speech on Election Day. 

The former state Senate minority leader campaigned in part on a pledge to tackle Michigan's crumbling roads — an initiative where Trump might play a role.

Whitmer told voters that if the GOP-controlled Legislature doesn’t create a road funding plan, she would ask voters to authorize $20 billion in general obligation bond sales over 10 years — a proposal that would require approval on the statewide ballot. 

Whitmer has argued her $2-billion-a-year plan could help the state and local road agencies leverage up to $1 billion a year in additional federal funding; however, it hasn’t been clear if the federal aid would be automatic or rely on help from the Trump administration.

By contrast, Whitmer’s Republican opponent, Bill Schuette, argued that his relationship with Trump would help get more federal aid for Michigan.