RNC chair defends Trump, challenges Michigan governor's handling of pandemic

ABC News

BY: BILL HUTCHINSON

(WASHINGTON) -- As President Donald Trump came under attack from Democrat leaders for prompting a "lock her up" rally chant on Saturday over a thwarted attempt to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee defended his rhetoric on Sunday.

At the Michigan rally Saturday, Trump said of Whitmer, "I guess they said she was threatened and she blamed me. You've got to get your governor to open up your state. And get your school's open. The schools' have to be open. Right?"

People in the crowd began applauding and chanting "lock her up."

Trump responded, "Lock 'em all up."

Whitmer later released a statement that said, "This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that has put me, my family and the lives of other government officials in danger."

"Every single time the president does this at a rally, the violent rhetoric towards her immediately escalates on social media. It has to stop. It just has to," the statement continued.

Ronna McDaniel said it was "inappropriate" for Whitmer to blame Trump for putting her in harm's way, in an interview on ABC's "This Week."

"First of all, the president and his FBI foiled this plot," the RNC chairwoman said told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. "I think Gov. Whitmer is really inappropriate to try and lay blame at the president. These were sick individuals, there was no political affiliation. They were attacking the capital, as well. We're glad she's safe, her family is safe."

McDaniel claimed the chant was spurred by the frustration of Michigan residents over being locked down for months by Whitmer's restrictions to fight the coronavirus.

"She has locked us down. Open it up," McDaniel, who lives in Michigan and recently had a bout with COVID-19, said. "Let's not take this rhetoric further. Let's not continue to extrapolate things that were not being said. And what people are saying in Michigan is 'Please let us open up. Let our kids go back to school. That's what they're talking about. They're not threatening our governor and she's taking it way too far -- once again."

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