Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has dipped her toe into the 2020 election, but not as a presidential or vice presidential contender.
As the Advance first reported in December, Whitmer said she wasn’t interested in being on the ticket. But on Monday, she did invite Democratic presidential hopefuls to visit Michigan via her new personal Twitter account. Whitmer’s office has not yet had presidential candidates reach out about stopping by Michigan, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
And Whitmer also talked to the New York Times for a story that ran that same day on the apparent debate among some Democrats about neglecting the Midwest in favor of the Sun Belt next year:
“It drives me crazy,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who rolled to an easy victory last year in a state Mr. Trump narrowly won. “To put any particular part of the country into a general classification and write them off is ridiculous.”
Ms. Whitmer said she won “by going into areas most Democrats wouldn’t spend their time going.” She added, “You show up at a bowling alley.”
Greg Sargent, who writes the liberal Plum Line column for the Washington Post, took issue with her comments:
Simply as an empirical matter, this framing of the policy choice is overly simplistic and doesn’t adequately reckon with what’s happening in the Democratic Party right now.
Sargent acknowledged that “it’s not clear how deep this debate really runs” among Democrats.
In a tweet on Monday, Sargent was more pointed in his criticism: “It’s terrible to see dynamic Democrats like @gretchenwhitmer feeding the frame that Democrats have to choose between racial issues/immigration and ‘kitchen table’ issues. That is a totally false choice. It is *not an option* to do one and not the other.”
It's terrible to see dynamic Democrats like @gretchenwhitmer feeding the frame that Democrats have to choose between racial issues/immigration and "kitchen table" issues.
That is a totally false choice. It is *not an option* to do one and not the other:https://t.co/G0MwjV86cf
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) February 25, 2019
In an interview with the Advance on Tuesday, Whitmer was asked about the NYT interview and Sargent’s criticism. She said she had not seen Sargent’s column and was “surprised” by his take.
“My comments spanned a number of issues and my message to anyone running for office, no matter what office it is, is that you have to show up and talk to people. And when you do that, it keeps you focused on the things that matter,” she said. “And it really was that simple.”
When asked if she thought it was an either/or proposition for Democrats to address both racial and economic issues in 2020, Whitmer said, “Of course not. No, absolutely not. There are a lot of issues we’ve got to tackle as a nation and as a state. I believe, though, when you show up in a meaningful way, it really keeps you tethered to how you can impact people’s lives.”