The Trump campaign is planning to pull resources out of the state of Michigan, John Gizzi reported to Newsmax TV on Saturday.
The news was reported Saturday on “America Right Now.“
Michigan was to be a key battleground state, but it has been polling heavily in favor of Democrat Joe Biden.
Washington Republicans are also shifting Senate race resources to tight races in North Carolina, Georgia, and Iowa, according to the report.
The news also comes on the heels of the FBI foiling a plot to kidnap Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Hours after the FBI revealed a group of anti-government vigilantes had plotted to kidnap her, Whitmer addressed her state — and the nation — with a message that did not mince words about whom she blamed for the threat: President Donald Trump was complicit for “giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.”
It was a familiar move for a governor who has repeatedly drawn the president into heated public battles that might only hurt him in a pivotal state. While she risked politicizing the moment, the governor said Friday she did not think twice about calling out the president.
“I am raising two daughters who I want to be bold, too, you know, and to speak truth to power,” Whitmer said in an Associated Press interview.
President Donald Trump said she had “done a terrible job as governor” and “rather than say thank you, she calls me a white supremacist.”
Some Republicans on Friday worried Trump’s reaction would hurt him in a state he was trying desperately to win Nov. 3. And Michigan Republicans critical of Trump expressed disbelief at state GOP leaders’ failure to call out, or even mildly chide, Trump.
“I’m astounded in the last 24 hours no new Republican has come out and renounced Trump’s rhetoric,” said Jeff Timmer, a onetime Republican strategist who has distanced himself from the party since Trump’s election. “Nobody has dared stick their head out.”
After offering a statement Thursday offering “thoughts and prayers” to the governor and her family, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey attended a demonstration to advocate for lifting Whitmer’s restrictions on state businesses.
Whitmer’s remarks were aimed at appealing to Michigan Republicans unhappy with the state of their party. She quoted President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 address to the NAACP in which he condemned Americans “who still hold perverted notions about what America is all about.”
Whitmer’s approval rating has been running well ahead of Trump’s in the state. A majority in Michigan approve of her performance, a measure that has increased steadily with her handling of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Trump has has been stuck well under 50%, while his campaign has signaled worry about carrying the state a second time, campaign aides have said privately.
Trump won Michigan by less than a percentage point in 2016.
Trump is facing strong headwinds in Oakland County, once the GOP stronghold and childhood home of mainstream Republicans such as Mitt Romney. But the flow of younger, more racially diverse families into the county has changed its political complexion. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the county, an upscale suburb neighboring Detroit to the northwest.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, a fellow Michigander, through a spokesperson, had no response for the appropriateness of Trump’s response, but asked, “Why isn’t anyone asking [whether] Governor Whitmer’s baseless attack on the president was appropriate?”
Whitmer put major restrictions on personal movement and the economy to stop the spread of the virus, though many of those limits have been lifted since spring. The governor has exchanged barbs with Trump on social media, with the president declaring in April, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
Opponents of Whitmer’s orders demonstrated at the Michigan Capitol the following month, some of them armed with semiautomatic assault rifles. However, there was no indication in the criminal complaint the men in the kidnapping plot were inspired by Trump.
Authorities also have not publicly said whether the men were angry about Whitmer’s coronavirus orders.
Michigan Republican John Sellek, who ran Romney’s 2012 Michigan campaign, said soft Republicans looking for a final reason to support Biden are finding one in Trump’s response to Whitmer.
Information from The Associated Press were used in this report.
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