Michigan senator gets phone call from Biden after viral floor speech

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

President Joe Biden called state Sen. Mallory McMorrow Friday, three days after the Royal Oak Democrat gave a viral floor speech about an attack by a fellow Republican senator accusing McMorrow of grooming.

McMorrow disclosed the call from Biden in a Friday tweet after the state senator's five-minute Tuesday speech responding to a fundraising email from Republican Sen. Lana Theis of Brighton went viral and gained national media attention. As of Monday, McMorrow's speech had been viewed more than 14 million times.

"I didn't wake up on Monday morning thinking that, by Friday, I'd answer a phone call saying, 'Hi, Mr. President,'" McMorrow wrote on Twitter. "I'm humbled by @potus reaching out to discuss my speech, why we do this, and what it means for the soul of the nation. We can, and we will."

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow of Royal Oak speaks at a vigil held on the one year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol insurrection.

Biden's office confirmed the call, but did not offer further details. 

McMorrow's Tuesday speech focused on a fundraising email from Theis' re-election campaign in which she claimed McMorrow and others were "outraged" they couldn't "groom and sexualize kindergartners."

The fundraising email followed pushback from some Democrats against Theis' prayer to open session earlier this month that said there were "forces that desire things" for children "other than what their parents would have them see and hear and know."

In her Tuesday address, McMorrow spoke about her Christian upbringing and said she wanted every child to feel "seen, heard and supported."

"We cannot let hateful people tell you otherwise to scapegoat and deflect from the fact that they are not doing anything to fix the real issues that impact people's lives," the Democratic senator said. "And I know that hate will only win if people like me stand by and let it happen."

The speech attracted national attention in the midst of debates over how and when sexuality and gender identity should be discussed in schools. The national debate has prompted allegations of "grooming" by some Republican officials. 

McMorrow said she believed she was targeted by Theis because, as a mother, she was "the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme."

"People who are different are not the reason that our roads are in bad shape after decades of disinvestment or that health care costs are too high or that teachers are leaving the profession," McMorrow said.

Theis responded to McMorrow in a Wednesday statement that acknowledged a television interview the Royal Oak Democrat gave on Wednesday morning. 

"Sen. McMorrow is not naïve about politics and fundraising," Theis said. "I know that because it took her mere minutes to turn her Senate floor speech into a plea for campaign donations. 

"While Sen. McMorrow is on MSNBC preaching to her choir, I’ll keep my focus on Michigan parents, who Democrats are seeking to undermine as the primary decision-makers in the education of their children."

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.