Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has 'full confidence' in Biden's candidacy: NPR

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer shares her leadership philosophy in her new book, True Gretch: What I've Learned About Life, Leadership, and Everything in Between.

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is continuing to stand by President Joe Biden. Despite growing concerns about Biden's age and mental acuity, Whitmer said she has full confidence in his candidacy.

“He's got the receipts. He's delivered, whether it's bringing back supply chains or lowering the cost of insulin, protecting a woman's right to make her own decisions about her body. These are the basic principles that I know are resonating with voters across the country,” she told NPR.

But the governor, who is co-chair of Biden's re-election campaign, has not definitively said Biden is the best candidate to defeat former President Donald Trump in November.

“Our choices on the ballot right now are President Biden and former President Trump. And that's the binary choice before us,” she said, when pressed on the question. “I'm an enthusiastic supporter of President Biden and I'm going to do my utmost to make sure he gets a second term.”

Whitmer rose to national prominence for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — and has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Biden if he withdraws his candidacy. However, she said she “very much supports his re-election,” noting that her party is fortunate to have “a deep bench of great Democratic talent.”

In the midst of all this, Whitmer comes out with a new book True Gretch: What I've Learned About Life, Leadership, and Everything in BetweenIn it, she shares stories from her life and political career, as well as her leadership philosophy “so that people can laugh at me a little bit or maybe get some inspiration or learn a lesson that I've used to navigate through unimaginable circumstances.”

Whitmer spoke with All together host Juana Summers on her efforts to re-elect President Biden, her crucial state of Michigan and what her next move might be.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and clarity.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Juana Zomers: I have to ask you in this conversation about the direction of your party, your name keeps coming up as someone who was part of that deep bench. I note here that President Biden has said he’s going to stay in the race. But I want to ask you directly, if he were to withdraw, would you consider getting in yourself?

Governor Gretchen Whitmer: You know, this president is not going to retire. He’s going to remain on the ballot. And so I’m not going to go down the path of all sorts of possible scenarios that I don’t think will ever come to pass. I appreciate that people have suggested that I have some skills that might translate, but you know, it’s a settled field and every vote that doesn’t equate to an affirmative vote for Joe Biden is supporting a potential second term for Trump. And we know how devastating that would be to women’s rights, to our economy, to our democracy. And so I will not waver in my support.

Then-Senator Kamala Harris (L) (D-CA), Senator Cory Booker (R) (D-NJ) and Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan joined Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden onstage during a campaign rally at Renaissance High School on March 9, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan.

Then-Senator Kamala Harris (L) (D-CA), Senator Cory Booker (R) (D-NJ) and Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan joined Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden onstage during a campaign rally at Renaissance High School on March 9, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan.

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Summers: I want to talk about your state of Michigan, where the president is going on Friday for the fourth time this year. And I don’t have to tell you this, but your state has always been a major battleground. I think it’s fair to say that this is a state that the president has to win to stay in the White House. Do you believe he can do that?

Witmer: I do. And I talk about this in the book, about the importance of listening, of showing up, of connecting with people that other people might not spend time with. In my conversations in Michigan, whether it’s roundtables on reproductive rights or just “how do we restore some decency to this chaotic world with this hot rhetoric?” I know we’re on the same page. People want to know that they have leaders who care about them, who are going to make their lives easier and help them achieve their goals, to be able to provide for a family. And President Biden has done that, and he’s going to continue to show up in my work on the ground, listening and making sure that the agenda that I’m pursuing every day is about helping people keep more money in their pockets and get ahead.

And whether it's, as I said, roundtables on reproductive rights or just good-paying jobs and American security, all of these things are central to voters and the work that I do and certainly the work that President Biden is doing.

Summers: I want to talk a little bit more about the dynamics in your state. Michigan is a state that a lot of people are paying attention to because of the conversations and the feelings that a lot of people have about the conflict in the Middle East and Israel’s war with Hamas. Are there things that you think the president and the vice president, during their campaign, need to say there to keep voters who care so much about those issues, particularly the Muslim and Arab American voters in your state, on their side to support the Biden-Harris candidate in November?

Witmer: Well, I think it's really important for all of us to always make sure that we acknowledge that everyone is hurting. If there's a universal truth in this moment, it's that our beautiful Jewish community is hurting, or our beautiful Arab and Muslim and Palestinian communities are hurting, to acknowledge that and figure out how [we] can put pressure on America. Pressure on the situation to get hostages back and make sure that we rebuild and have a two-state solution. And I think those are critical agenda items that resonate with all communities.

Summers: You also write in your book about the issue of reproductive rights, and you've talked about President Biden's record on this. I want to ask you about the message. You said earlier this year that the president should be more vocal about abortion. Do you think he's struck the right tone in debates and on the campaign trail? Or [are] Are there ways in which you think he could or should adjust his approach heading into November?

Witmer: I think American voters are smart and they understand the issue and why it’s so personal and why this is something that should be the sole responsibility of the woman and her family and perhaps a trusted doctor. Government should be involved in these incredibly important economic decisions. Above all, the most powerful, profound economic decision any of us will make in our lives is whether and when we bring a child into the world. And it’s incredibly personal. And for many, it’s not a choice at all. It’s a desperately wanted pregnancy that can’t be carried to term. Government should stay out of it. And President Biden shares those values. Refining language is certainly something that we’re going to continue to do as we continue this conversation, this national debate. But I know where this president stands on this, and that’s why I’m going to work so hard to make sure he’s re-elected.

Summers: Governor, in our conversation and in other recent media appearances, I’ve heard you repeatedly be so steadfast in your support for President Biden and the Biden-Harris ticket. But at the same time, I’ve also heard you express a lot of concern about what another Trump presidency could and would mean for the country. So I want to ask you, do you really believe, especially after the last few weeks, that President Biden is the person best positioned to defeat Donald Trump in November?

Witmer: Listen. President Biden is the Democratic nominee. I’m co-chair of the Biden-Harris campaign. I’m proud of it because I know as governor that this president has done more to help us in Michigan, whether it’s fixing the damn roads or putting more resources into making sure our students get back on track after a pandemic or lowering the cost of insulin. He’s done incredible things and Michiganders are benefiting from them. Affordable housing works. I mean, the list goes on and on. So I think four more years with this president is going to help Michiganders get ahead. It’s going to help Americans everywhere get ahead. And that’s why I’m unwavering in my support.

Summers: Governor, I want to close with a question about your own future. Your term is of course limited. Your governorship ends in 2026. And there are plenty of questions from many people about what lies ahead for you. So I just ask you directly, what’s next?

Witmer: You know what? I don’t know yet. I’ve got two and a half years left as governor. I’ve committed to serving out my term and I love the state of Michigan. I’ve called it home my whole life and my kids are there and my dad’s in Michigan. And so I don’t know exactly what it looks like when I’m done as governor, but I’m going to go through the tape. I don’t want to take my eye off the ball because we’ve got a lot of big, important things that I want to do between now and my last day as governor of Michigan. I’ll keep you posted.

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