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Eric Trump: Polls wrong on Michigan, Whitmer kidnap plotters 'disgusting'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump, contended Tuesday that the polls are wrong on Michigan and spoke out against the men who were allegedly planning to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

"Those people are disgusting," Eric Trump said of 13 individuals arrested Oct. 8 in the plot against the governor. "Take them, throw them in jail for the rest of their lives, right? I think everyone would be perfectly happy with that and great with that."

Eric Trump gives a double thumbs up near the end of his speech.

The president's second oldest son made campaign stops across Michigan on Tuesday, two weeks before the Nov. 3 election. He spoke to a crowd of about 200 people at the Lansing area's Schlegel Sand & Gravel in the afternoon.

Asked how Michigan fits into the campaign's plans going forward with polling showing the Republican incumbent behind Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Eric Trump said the polls are getting the race wrong.

"The enthusiasm is unlike anything that we've seen before," he said. "And I'm telling you the polls are wrong. I am telling you they're going to get it wrong again. And they're going to be embarrassed again in the media."

"I think you're going to see a bigger win this time than in 2016. I mean that. And I was here. I was on the ground in 2016, and I know what the enthusiasm was like," he added. "I think you're going to see a bigger win this time than 2016."

Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes in 2016 after polls found Democrat Hillary Clinton leading in the weeks before the election. However, some surveys showed the race tightening as Election Day approached.

Biden led Trump by 9 percentage points, 48% to 39%, in a Detroit News and WDIV-TV poll of 600 likely Michigan voters surveyed from Sept. 30-Oct. 3. The poll had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

Eric Trump speaks to a crowd in the Lansing area on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, two weeks before Election Day.

But Trump's campaign has been rushing surrogates to Michigan, including Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Vice President Mike Pence. Pence spoke in Grand Rapids on  Oct. 14 and will be in Oakland County Thursday. Donald Trump Jr., the president's oldest son, will appear in Houghton County in the Upper Peninsula on Thursday.

The president himself spoke at a rally in Muskegon on Saturday.

As for the recent exchanges between his father and Whitmer, the Democratic governor and national co-chairwoman of Biden's campaign, Eric Trump said the president wants the country's economy reopened while Whitmer "wants to keep the economy in Michigan shutdown."

The governor has eased many restrictions on businesses in the past months, but some limitations, imposed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, remain on business capacity and gatherings.

"People want to get back to their Little League games. People want to get back to movie theaters. We can do this responsibly," Eric Trump said. "People want to get back to work and not everybody has the luxury of the press where they can quarantine, and not everybody has the luxury of Joe Biden who can stay in a basement for months on end."

While Eric Trump called the individuals accused of plotting to kidnap Whitmer "disgusting," he also criticized the governor for blaming his dad for the plot. He noted that at least one of the individuals allegedly involved, Brandon Caserta, had voiced opposition to the president.

"Yet, she blames mad men on my father. And that’s not right either," he said.

After the kidnapping plot was revealed on Oct. 8, Whitmer referenced Trump's comments at the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 when he told the Proud Boys group to "stand back and stand by."

She argued it was an example of Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacists and hate groups, "like these two militia groups."

"Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, a call to action," Whitmer said. "When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight.”

Donald Trump pushed back later that evening in a series of tweets.

"The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan. My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the governor of Michigan.

"Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist ....," he tweeted.

During his Saturday rally in Muskegon, the crowd chanted "lock her up" at one point as the president discussed Whitmer's COVID-19 restrictions. Trump interjected, "Lock them all up."

cmauger@detroitnews.com