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In online chat with Buttigieg, Whitmer slams Trump for 'failure of leadership'

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extolled former Vice President Joe Biden as the president America needs to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and repair the economy in an online one-one conversation with one-time presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

In the half-hour conversation on Buttigieg's Instagram account with the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who won the Iowa Democratic caucus, Whitmer said Michigan Democrats are working tirelessly to get Biden elected and secure a victory in the Mitten. President Donald Trump won the state by just over 10,000 votes in 2016.

"Lives are counting on us to get this election right," said Whitmer, who plugged the "One Campaign" to get out the Democratic vote up and down the ticket in the state. "Whether you are in rural Michigan, or you are in a downtown city, whether you are an auto worker or a professor ... every one of us is worried about COVID-19. Every one of us is worried about what it means for our livelihood."

The governor took direct aim at the president and his leadership.

"We know that this recession, that 200,000 lives lost at this moment didn't have to be this way," Whitmer continued. "It was a failure of leadership by the Trump administration and a failure to take this seriously, a failure to tell us how serious this was."

Biden, whom she called her "friend," would be that leader who would listen to the science and save lives with a national strategy for testing, the governor said.

"We would have a leader on the national level who would advocate mask wearing and explain why it's important," she said, adding America needs a "leader that understands how to protect people, how to get things done, how we as a nation are protecting people of this country."

The Instagram live event with Buttigieg and Whitmer was at the same time Trump was making an appearance outside Toledo, Ohio, as both Biden and Trump have made efforts to campaign heavily in battleground states.

Whitmer, who also discussed the death of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Black Lives Matter movement, said she speaks to Biden frequently and that "he asks questions, he wants to understand."

She said the difference between Trump and Biden is "hubris versus humility. Joe Biden knows he's not an epidemiologist so he's going to learn how to seek out and learn from the best people in science that he can."

"The guy in the White House thinks he's the smartest person on the planet, and has not sought out information so that he could make educated decisions," she said.

Whitmer also said she plans to vote early this Thursday and encouraged voters in Michigan to do so as well.

“This is it. This is showtime. This is our one chance to change the trajectory of this country,” Buttigieg said as he closed the live feed.

lfleming@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2620

Twitter:@leonardnfleming