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Whitmer: Part of Trump's legacy will be 'shaped' by final days

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Sunday night for assistance from the federal government, including President Donald Trump, as she unveiled new restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Whitmer, a Democrat who co-chaired President-elect Joe Biden's campaign against Trump this fall, said the nation needs "more leadership" at the federal level to get through what will be a "tough winter."

“As the president prepares to leave office, part of his legacy will be determined and shaped by these last 66 days," the governor said. "President Trump has an opportunity to meet the needs of the people of this country and extend life-saving support to Americans everywhere.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, left, and President Donald Trump

Biden defeated Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election. But the GOP incumbent has refused to concede and instead questioned the results, claiming, without evidence, that there was widespread voter fraud.

Whitmer and Trump have frequently clashed during the COVID-19 pandemic as the Democrat has called for a national strategy to combat the virus and the Republican has pushed for states to reopen their economies.

Michigan is facing surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Last week, the state reported a record total of new infections: 44,019. In response to the trend, Whitmer announced on Sunday she would suspend in-person instruction at colleges and high schools, halt indoor dining at restaurants and close some businesses, like movie theaters and casinos, for three weeks.

“The situation has never been more dire," the governor said during a press conference.

During the briefing, Whitmer said she hopes Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, can deliver a recovery package to help unemployed workers, restaurants and small businesses and  provide resources for students.

“This stimulus is critical for our families and good for our economy," Whitmer said.

The reason Michigan's economy came back as strong as it did in the spring after the initial wave of the virus was because the state had an aggressive response plan and received federal support, the governor said.

"They did it once and it worked. Now, we need help again," Whitmer said.

Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law on March 27 with bipartisan support. It provided more than $2 trillion in economic relief.

cmauger@detroitnews.com