DETROIT _ It’s not difficult to draw a connection between the divisive and racist rhetoric of President Donald Trump and a thwarted plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said in a statement late Thursday.

Biden said he’d reached out to Whitmer earlier in the day to check in after state and federal law enforcement announced they’d arrested 13 people in connection to what’s being called a domestic terrorism plot.

Joe Biden said Thursday he spoke with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after news broke that federal and state law enforcement thwarted a kidnapping plot against the governor. Biden said it’s not a challenge to connect the president’s hateful rhetoric to the acts allegedly planned against the governor.

The problem spans far beyond the threat against Whitmer though, Biden said.

“As a nation, we are at a crossroads. We have come to a point where, despite our shock, we are not surprised that such a heinous plot was even conceived _ a plot by Americans to blow up a bridge on American soil, threaten the lives of police officers and other law enforcement officials, and kidnap an American leader, take her hostage, and stage a mock trial for treason,” Biden said, reciting some of the allegations against the men who were arrested.

During a news conference earlier Thursday, Whitmer specifically called out Trump’s rhetoric and his inability to disavow white supremacist and hate groups during the recent presidential debate. Biden followed in a similar vein, arguing the president’s social media attacks against Whitmer served as a unifying message for forces of hate in the state.

The former vice president specifically referenced a tweet from the president in the spring, when protesters were frustrated with some of Whitmer’s executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden said as the governor worked to protect people, the president worked to undermine her, specifically tweeting “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

“That call was heard. When protesters with Swastikas and Confederate flags, nooses, and assault rifles descended on Michigan’s Capitol echoing the president’s own refrain to ‘lock her up,’ President Trump called them ‘very good people.’ He was heard, just as he was heard by neo-Nazis in Charlottesville three years ago, and again last week, when he told the extremist Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’,” Biden said.

“There is a throughline from President Trump’s dog whistles and tolerance of hate, vengeance, and lawlessness to plots such as this one. He is giving oxygen to the bigotry and hate we see on the march in our country.”

In March, the president specifically tweeted about protests at the Michigan State Capitol. He said in part, “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

After Whitmer’s news conference Thursday, Trump and members of his campaign and White Staff slammed the governor. In a series of tweets, the president ripped in to Whitmer, relying on at times inaccurate information to say she was failing the people of Michigan.

Whitmer, who for a time was at or near the top of Biden’s vice presidential short list, later responded to Trump by tweeting a jab about the president’s decision to bow out of a virtual presidential debate.

Both Whitmer and Biden ended their statements about the president with the same message: vote.


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