ePublican Tudor Dixon makes light of a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a campaign stop



CNN

Tudor Dixon, the Republican challenger to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, called attention to the 2020 kidnapping plot against Whitmer on Friday, telling a crowd that the Democratic governor “certainly is good at taking businesses hostage and holding them for ransom.”

During a pro-Dixon super PAC event in Troy, Michigan, Dixon criticized Whitmer for what the Republican characterized as burdensome business regulations. She said Whitmer is “not a businesswoman” and is a “politician with a law degree,” then pleaded the kidnapping plot.

A federal jury in August convicted two men of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer at her summer home in 2020. They were also convicted of a single count of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction after prosecutors detailed their plans to blow up a bridge to prevent the police from responding. to the kidnapping of the governor. The men now face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“The sad thing is Gretchen is going to tie your hands, put a gun to your head and ask if you’re ready to talk,” Dixon said at the event, which was hosted by Kellyanne Conway, a former Trump White House aide House. “For someone so worried about being kidnapped, Gretchen Whitmer sure is good at taking businesses hostage and holding them for ransom.”

Whitmer’s campaign and Democratic groups condemned Dixon’s remarks Friday.

“Threats of violence and dangerous rhetoric undermine our democracy and discourage good people on both sides of the aisle at all levels from entering public service,” Whitmer campaign spokeswoman Maeve Coyle said in a statement.

“Governor Whitmer has faced serious threats to her safety and her life, and she is grateful to law enforcement and prosecutors for their tireless work,” Coyle said. “Threats of violence — whether to Governor Whitmer or to candidates and elected officials across the aisle — are no laughing matter, and the fact that Tudor Dixon thinks it’s a joke shows that she is absolutely unfit to serve in public office. ”

After her comment drew backlash, Dixon joked again about the kidnapping plot at another event Friday, this time with Donald Trump Jr., son of the former president.

She told a crowd that at a stop with President Joe Biden at the Detroit Auto Show last week, Whitmer looked like she “would rather be kidnapped by the FBI.”

“Yeah, the media is like, ‘Oh my god, she did it again,'” Dixon said, anticipating the reaction to her second reference of the day to the 2020 kidnapping plot.

When she told the audience that her earlier remarks about the plan to kidnap Whitmer had been characterized as a joke, Dixon said, “I say, ‘No, it wasn’t a joke.’ If you were afraid of that, you should know what it is to have your life ripped away from you.”

Pressed later Friday on whether her remarks made light of the plot, Dixon then defended them to CNN.

“I think when you’re attacked every day, you have to take things a little lightly,” she said. “We can still have fun.”

The 2020 plot was foiled in part because FBI agents had infiltrated the group as it planned the effort to kidnap Whitmer.

“Show of hands – how many are fed in the crowd? I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t some kind of, you know, federal kidnapping, Trump Jr. said.

“You know, Gretchen Whitmer knew about it months in advance. But you know what, if we can get good PR out of it, we can pretend it’s real,” Trump Jr. said. “You know, the FBI can try to catch a few meth heads somewhere and run with that narrative now.”

Dixon, a conservative commentator and businesswoman from Norton Shores, won Michigan’s Republican primary to take on Whitmer in August. She was endorsed in the primary by Trump and is backed by the family of former Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos — GOP mega-donors in Michigan.

The Republican Governors Association, the group tasked with raising money and providing infrastructure for GOP gubernatorial campaigns, declined to comment on Dixon’s remarks.

“Tudor Dixon’s comments are dangerous, an affront to law enforcement that keeps us safe, and completely disqualifying for the role of Michigan governor. Dixon’s supporters in the DeVos family and at RGA should condemn her dangerous extremism,” said a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, Sam Newton, in a statement.

Polls have consistently shown Whitmer with a lead in the race.

This Whitmer lead is fueled in part by a renewed focus on abortion in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to end federal abortion rights. Whitmer has vowed to protect abortion rights in a state where Republicans control the legislature, and Democrats have successfully pushed for a referendum on this year’s ballot that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat up for re-election in November, tweeted that Dixon’s “statement is abhorrent.”

Whitmer, Nessel wrote on Twitter, “is the victim of a very serious plan to kidnap and murder her. Anyone who would make light of such an effort is unfit to hold public office at any level.”

This story has been updated with further developments on Friday.

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