Trump wades into Whitmer boat controversy, alleging 'double standard'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

President Donald Trump launched another social media criticism of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Thursday, blasting her husband's call to a dock company about getting his boat launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Yet she doesn’t let people even breath in Michigan," Trump tweeted. "A very bad double standard!"

The Republican president made the remark in response to a tweet by Gregg Jarrett, an analyst for Fox News. The tweet came two days after Whitmer confirmed that her husband, Marc Mallory, called a Northern Michigan dock company about getting his boat placed in the water for the Memorial Day weekend.

During the call, Mallory asked if the fact he was married to the governor would get his boat launched more quickly. During a Tuesday press conference, Whitmer said the call was a "failed attempt a humor," which Mallory regretted.

"He thought it might get a laugh," Whitmer said Tuesday. "It didn’t. And to be honest, I wasn’t laughing either when it was relayed to me. Because I knew how it would be perceived.”

The Detroit News first reported the call on Monday after the dock company, NorthShore Dock, posted on social media about it. Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, also posted on Facebook about the call but took down his post Friday after a governor's office staffer contended his post was false.

The call continued to be a topic of conversation in Lansing Thursday as senators discussed it in speeches on Senate floor.

"They challenged my integrity, and they were wrong," Barrett said about the governor's office.

"Who here hasn't driven three hours to rake leaves in May for Memorial Day weekend?" Barrett said of Mallory traveling to Northern Michigan recently despite Whitmer urging residents to "think long and hard" before going to areas where business restrictions have been lifted.

"Who hasn't called the small business storing their boat to wait on hold to talk to the owner and joke around about their political connections?"

But Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, defended Whitmer, saying he believed Mallory's comment was a joke. Hertel noted Mallory is a father and a dentist.

"Marc didn't run for office," Hertel said. "He is not someone who should be mentioned in these hallowed halls."

Trump and Whitmer have clashed in recent weeks as the Democratic governor has criticized the federal government's response to COVID-19. She is also a national co-chairman of the campaign of Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden. 

The GOP president, who's up for re-election, has called Whitmer "half Whitmer" and called on officials to "liberate Michigan."