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Whitmer says Michigan is winnable for Biden, denies report she said otherwise

Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivering her 2024 State of the State speech.
Lester Graham
Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivering her 2024 State of the State speech.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer reasserted Monday that she has faith President Joe Biden can win Michigan in November. That’s despite the president’s widely panned performance in his first debate of the 2024 campaign with former President Donald Trump.

The Democratic governor is an awkward position as there are calls for the president to step aside following the Thursday night debate. Whitmer is a big Biden booster and a national reelection campaign co-chair, but is also frequently mentioned as a possible alternative to the incumbent president.

Whitmer released a statement Monday in an effort to quell talk she is angling for a convention nomination in Chicago.

“I am proud to support Joe Biden as our nominee and I am behind him 100 percent in the fight to defeat Donald Trump,” she said. “Not only do I believe Joe can win Michigan, I know he can because he’s got the receipts: he’s lowered health care costs, brought back manufacturing jobs, and is committed to restoring the reproductive freedom women lost under Donald Trump.”

The impetus is a piece in Politico Magazine that focused on the emerging knives-out competition for the 2028 Democratic nomination. The piece begins with an unnamed prospective 2028 candidate who alleged that Whitmer told Biden campaign chair Jennifer O’Malley Dillon that the swing state of Michigan is no longer winnable. The Politico piece also focused on Whitmer’s disavowal of efforts to force Biden to withdraw and assurance that she has nothing to do with the chatter.

Whitmer political aide Helen Hare said in an email to the Michigan Public Radio Network that any suggestion that Whitmer ever said Michigan is not winnable by the Democratic ticket “is false.”

“Governor Whitmer has said from the beginning that Michigan is always close,” she said, “and that’s why she has been crisscrossing the state to help the Biden-Harris campaign get their message out.”

Recent polls show Trump leading Biden in Michigan, though the results fall within the margin of error.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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