Michigan governor says not voting for Biden over Gaza war ‘supports second Trump term’

<span>Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer: ‘It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that any vote not cast for Joe Biden supports a second Trump term.’</span><span>Photograph: Scott Hasse/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer: ‘It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that any vote not cast for Joe Biden supports a second Trump term.’Photograph: Scott Hasse/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan governor, pushed back on calls to not vote for Joe Biden over his handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict, saying on Sunday that could help Trump get re-elected.

“It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that any vote that’s not cast for Joe Biden supports a second Trump term,” she said on Sunday during an interview on CNN’s State of the Union. “A second Trump term would be devastating. Not just on fundamental rights, not just on our democracy here at home, but also when it comes to foreign policy. This was a man who promoted a Muslim ban.”

Whitmer, who is a co-chair of Biden’s 2024 campaign, also said she wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the protest vote.

Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat who is the only Palestinian-American serving in Congress, urged Democrats last week to vote “uncommitted” in Michigan’s 27 February primary.

“We don’t want a country that supports war and bombs and destruction. We want to support life. We want to stand up for every single life killed in Gaza … This is the way you can raise our voices. Don’t make us even more invisible. Right now, we feel completely neglected and just unseen by our government,” she said in a video posted to her Twitter account. “If you want us to be louder, then come here and vote uncommitted.”

Tlaib’s sister, Layla Elabed, is the campaign manager for Listen to Michigan, the group that has been leading the effort to get people to vote uncommitted. The group has the support of 30 elected officials across south-east Michigan, including Abdullah Hammoud, the mayor of Dearborn, which has a large Arab American population.

“Biden must earn our vote through a dramatic change in policy,” the group says on its website. “President Biden has been a successful candidate in the past by representing a broad coalition, but right now he’s not representing the vast majority of Democrats who want a ceasefire and an end to his funding of Israel’s war in Gaza.”

While Biden will easily win the Democratic primary there, Michigan is a key swing state in the November general election. Biden will need strong support of voters who are a part of his Democratic base in addition to support from more moderate voters to win.

Acknowledging that reality, Biden dispatched top aides to Dearborn to meet with leaders there earlier this month. During that meeting, Jon Finer, a deputy national security adviser, acknowledged errors in how the administration had responded.

“We are very well aware that we have missteps in the course of responding to this crisis since October 7,” he said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by the New York Times. “We have left a very damaging impression based on what has been a wholly inadequate public accounting for how much the president, the administration and the country values the lives of Palestinians. And that began, frankly, pretty early in the conflict.”