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Dingell: 'I don't believe these numbers' showing Biden with big lead

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Two top Michigan Democrats urged caution Monday for supporters of Joe Biden, arguing that backers of the former vice president shouldn't become complacent despite favorable polling ahead of the November election.

During an online event launching an effort called Michigan Women for Biden, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, introduced herself as "Debbie Downer."

“Some people say, ‘Oh, look at the numbers,'" Dingell said. "I don’t believe these numbers.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell

“And look at what’s happened in five months. The world is upside down and not one of us on this phone call would have predicted that the world will be as it is today. And it is five months from now until November.”

Real Clear Politics currently shows Biden to have a 7.3% lead over President Donald Trump in its average of recent polling in Michigan and an 8.1% average polling lead nationally.

Four years ago, when polling showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to have leads over Trump, Dingell voiced concerns before Trump became the first Republican presidential nominee to carry Michigan since 1988. Trump won the state by 10,704 votes against Clinton, his closest margin of victory nationally.

“Four years ago, many of you on this phone call thought that I was nuts," Dingell said. "I was in enough communities and heard enough people talking that I was very worried about the outcome of that election.”

Dingell said Democrats should take nothing for granted in 2020.

The online event launching Michigan Women for Biden on Monday included U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, Attorney General Dana Nessel, U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, and U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly.

The only female member of the Michigan congressional delegate who didn't speak was U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who heavily supported U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary.

The Monday event also featured Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who mentioned Dingell and referenced hating seeing numbers showing "double-digit leads."

"We can do this," Whitmer said. "And I believe we are going to be successful but we cannot for one second let our guard down. We cannot for one second make an assumption that Michigan is going to go with Joe Biden."

Whitmer added later: “We don’t want people to get complacent or for people to think showing up in Michigan doesn’t matter. I know Joe Biden gets it. I know he’ll be here."

The Democratic governor also said Biden understands that the COVID-19 crisis "is far from over."

"Joe Biden gets it, unlike the guy in the White House who decides it’s not masculine to wear a mask or who pretends that this virus is not still a threat," Whitmer contended.

Chris Gustafson, a spokesman for the Trump Victory campaign, pushed back on the event, saying the president's leadership had built an economy that "delivered historic results for all Americans of all backgrounds."

"While hidin’ Joe Biden is too scared of his own shadow to emerge from his basement, Michiganders know that President Trump already built the world's greatest economy once, and he'll do it again," Gustafson said.

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, speaks in front of a digital background showing Joe Biden during an online event for Biden on Monday, June 15, 2020.

But U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, who also participated in Monday's event, argued it's Biden who's going to protect women's rights and fair pay.

Stevens spoke during the call over Zoom with a backdrop image featuring a photo of Biden over her right shoulder.

"We are electing Joe Biden and we are taking our country back," Stevens said at one point. "So vote. Get everybody out and do it like everything depends on it."

cmauger@detroitnews.com