Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she’s actively in talks with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s team about joining the 2020 ticket.
“I’ve had a conversation with some folks,’ she said on the “Today” on Tuesday. But she added, “It was just an opening conversation and it’s not something that I would call a professional formalized vetting.”
President Trump almost single-handedly thrust the mostly unknown politician into the spotlight during a March press conference when he complained about not getting enough credit for his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps. They’re not appreciative to FEMA. It’s not right. These people are incredible. They’re working 24 hours a day,” he said. “Mike Pence, I don’t think he sleeps any more. These are people that should be appreciated.”
Then he made Whitmer a star. “I mean, I’m a different type of person. I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington. You’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan.’ All — it doesn’t make any difference what happens,” he said. “Michigan, all she does is — she has no idea what’s going on. And all she does is say, ‘Oh, it’s the federal government’s fault.’ And we’ve taken such great care of Michigan,” Trump said.
Whitmer responded to Trump’s attacks on Twitter with a post that included a hand-waving emoji, writing, “Hi, my name is Gretchen Whitmer, and that governor is me.”
The Michigan Democrat has drawn some bad press by enacting measures in Michigan that residents feel are draconinan, prompting numerous protests at the state capitol in Lansing.
But the 48-year-old first-term governor quickly became a frontrunner for the veep slot, especially because a swing state that Trump surprisingly won in 2016. On March 5, her odds of being selected by Biden as his running mate were 33/1. By March 20, she’d risen to 16/1. After Trump hit her, she became a 10/1 shot.
Whitmer’s addition to the ticket might just put Michigan, a state whose governorship she won by nearly 10 percentage points in 2018, into the D column.
While many have never heard of her, she was selected to give the official Democratic response to Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address, considered a big honor and often reserved for up-and-coming politicians.
But one concern about putting Whitmer on the ticket is that she might have limited time to campaign as the nation’s governors have played key leadership roles in getting the U.S. through the pandemic.
Although Biden has vowed to pick a woman as his running mate, Whitmer has previously said she doesn’t want the job.
“I think it is important that he has a woman running mate, to be honest. I think that there are a lot of phenomenal potential running mates for him,” she said last month on MSNBC. “It’s not going to be me, but I am going to have a hand in helping make sure that he has the rounded-out ticket that can win.”
But she said in her interview on “Today” that she’s keeping her options open while working to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, one of the hardest hit states in the country.
“I am making a little bit of time to stay connected to the campaign, but the most important thing that I have to do right now is be the governor of my home state,” Whitmer said. “That’s all that matters to me in this moment.”