by Jeff Mason and Michael Martina
JANESVILLE, Wisconsin / WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) – Republican President Donald Trump, who has played down the coronavirus outbreak since its inception, on Saturday criticized the Democratic governor of Michigan for her measures in the face of the health crisis, provoking during a a rally the clamors of his supporters who called to “imprison” Gretchen Whitmer.
The current White House tenant made the comments as he begins a three-day trip to key states for next month’s presidential election, as polls credit his Democratic rival Joe Biden with a lead in the elections. voting intentions.
Despite the rise in new cases of coronavirus contamination in Wisconsin and Michigan, the outgoing president has held large meetings in both states. Participants in these rallies did not respect social distancing, and not all wore a mask.
Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked Gretchen Whitmer when speaking from Muskegon, Michigan, describing her as “dishonest” and criticizing the state’s measures to stem the spread of the virus.
“They said she was threatened. And she blamed me,” he said in reference to the plot prepared by a far-right militia to kidnap Whitmer.
Gretchen Whitmer, who was one of the favorites to become Joe Biden’s running mate for the November 3 ballot, has been the target of frequent attacks by Donald Trump in the past.
Speaking via Twitter, the Democratic governor denounced “the very type of rhetoric that has endangered the lives of my family, mine and the lives of other government officials as we attempt to save the lives of our compatriots” .
Lee Chatfield, the Republican speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, also reacted via the social network: “Trump did not sing ‘jail it’ about our governor. But others l ‘did and it is wrong. She was literally targeted. Let’s debate. Win an election. But not this. “
Joe Biden, who has criticized Donald Trump’s handling of a health crisis that has caused more than 219,000 deaths in the United States, said on Saturday that he plans to unite the country in the fight against the coronavirus if he wins on next month.
“All President Trump is offering the people of Michigan is more lies and distractions – no plan to bring the virus under control, no strategy to get our economy out of this recession, no vision to unify the country.” , the former vice president said in a statement.
Donald Trump tried to turn this criticism against his Democratic rival, saying that he would jeopardize any chance of getting out of the health crisis. “Biden will shut down the country, postpone the vaccine and prolong the pandemic,” he said at rallies in Michigan and Wisconsin, two states that advisers to the outgoing president consider essential for his re-election.
(With Heather Timmons and David Shepardson; French version Jean Terzian)