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Whitmer won’t go ‘punch for punch’ with Republican who called her a witch

Martin Pengelly
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: AP</span>
Photograph: AP

Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, will not “go punch for punch” with Republican leaders in the state who have attacked her in misogynistic terms, one going so far as to call Whitmer and two other leading Democrats “three witches” set to be “burned at the stake”.

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Speaking to CBS’s Face the Nation, Whitmer said “there is a layer of misogyny here that every woman in leadership has been confronting and dealing with to some extent.

“I don’t have time, though, to focus on that or to go punch for punch. I’m not going to do that. I’ve got a job to do.”

The remark about “witches” was made by Ron Weiser, chairman of the Michigan Republican party.

“Our job now,” he said last month, “is to soften up those three witches and make sure that we have good candidates to run against them, that they are ready for the burning at the stake.”

In February, the Republican leader in the state Senate, Mike Shirkey, claimed to have “spanked” Whitmer on the budget and over appointments.

Both men apologised. But on Sunday Whitmer said: “I don’t know to whom they’ve apologised because I haven’t heard from them.

“I can tell you this, though, that sadly in this moment there have been a lot of death threats. We know that there was a plot to kidnap and kill me. Death threats against me and my family. It’s different in what I’m confronting than what some of my male counterparts are.”

Six men face federal charges over the plot to kidnap and possibly kill Whitmer. It was uncovered after armed men stormed the state capitol last year, in protest of coronavirus-related economic and social restrictions. Other defendants face state charges over the kidnapping plot.

Whitmer told CBS she was focused on “helping get my state through this, helping get our economy back on track, supporting [the Biden administration’s] American Jobs Plan so that helps us do both of those things. And that’s what I’m going to stay focused on.”