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Gov. Whitmer touts former Gov. Snyder's presidential endorsement

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer highlighted Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder's endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during national television interviews on Sunday, two days before the election.

Whitmer appeared on MSNBC and CNN Sunday morning. She didn't mention Snyder by name but referenced her "predecessor," with whom, she said she doesn't "agree on everything." 

Then Gov. Rick Snyderon March 17, 2016.

On CNN's "State of the Union," host Jake Tapper asked Whitmer if Biden, the former vice president, is going to win Michigan on Tuesday.

"I know this Jake, my predecessor, a Republican governor, has endorsed Joe Biden in Michigan," Whitmer responded. "I think it’s because we all know that the Trump administration’s inability to get their arms around COVID has cost our livelihoods and too many people, their lives."

Snyder, who served two terms as governor before Whitmer took office in 2019, endorsed Biden on Sept. 3. While many Michigan Democrats are critics of Snyder, he has critiqued Trump's economic policies and contended that the president's response to the COVID-19 pandemic had been "anemic."

"His plan is full of grandiose promises but little substance," Snyder wrote in The Detroit News last week. "Trump changes his statements to avoid responsibility or to gain votes while ignoring scientists and experts."

Trump, who won Michigan by 10,704 votes four years ago, has fired back at Snyder in recent weeks, saying the former governor was responsible for the Flint water crisis that occurred during his administration. The Republican governor's own task force said the administration's state-appointed emergency managers in Flint and Department of Environmental Quality officials made key mistakes that led to the lead contamination of Flint's drinking water.

The Republican president is holding a rally in Macomb County on Sunday and is scheduled to be back in the state for two more events on Monday, the eve of the election. On Sunday morning, he exaggerated his efforts to boost the auto industry in tweets.

"When I originally became your all time favorite President, the Great State of Michigan was hemorrhaging car companies and jobs," Trump tweeted Sunday. "Plants were closing and moving to Mexico, and other places. No new plants for decades. I stopped the moves, & now many plants are and have been built."

In reality, the number of auto vehicle and parts manufacturing jobs in the state had decreased by about 2,400 jobs during Trump's administration even before the pandemic hit the state in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job losses have increased as the virus has spread.

On MSNBC Sunday morning, Whitmer criticized the president's tweets.

"The facts of the matter are Michigan has been on the upswing since Obama and Biden had our backs during the auto rescue," Whitmer said. "The facts are that my predecessor, a Republican governor, has endorsed Joe Biden because we need a leader who can bring us together.

"My predecessor and I don’t agree on everything. But we recognize that Michigan, like states all across the country, needs a president that can unify us."

The Democratic governor was also asked Sunday about potential threats of violence and intimidation at the polls in Michigan. Whitmer said there are laws on the books that make it illegal to intimidate voters.

"We have been running elections since the beginning of this nation," Whitmer said. "We can have confidence in our elections, the security of them, the safety of our residents. We are going to continue to make sure that is the case in this election as well."

cmauger@detroitnews.com