In tweets and during press conferences Trump has made reference to “the woman in Michigan” and expressed that Whitmer and other governors were not showing enough gratitude to the federal government.
Tensions rose during a Friday radio interview with WWJ Newsradio, when Whitmer said Michigan has had a difficult time obtaining important medical gear.
“What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts — They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan,” Whitmer said. “It’s really concerning, I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”
Whitmer defended her comments on “Meet the Press” saying that she was making the observation that she is bidding against other states but she did not directly address if she felt Trump was punishing Michigan.
“We’ve got to keep working to get all of these other pieces of equipment and when we’re bidding against one another it’s creating a lot of frustration and concern,” Whitmer said. “That’s exactly what I was trying to convey. Same thing that’s been conveyed by both sides of the aisle.”
Michigan House Republicans on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services questioned Whitmer’s claims about vendors not fulfilling orders.
Subcommittee chair Rep. Mary Whiteford and member Rep. Annette Glenn asked for Whitmer to back up that claim in a letter Saturday morning ahead of the governor’s appearances on NBC and CNN.
The governor said the story was getting distorted during her interview with Tapper after he asked her to name the vendors who were delaying or canceling the orders.
“My role is not to out vendors because I think that they’re concerned about retribution and you know potential problems for them later,” Whitmer said. “My role is to get every personal protective equipment, every piece I can get, into the state of Michigan.”
On Saturday, Trump granted Michigan’s request for a major disaster declaration. That morning, Whitmer announced that more federal medical supplies already have arrived in the state at the same time the request was granted.
More than 112,000 N-95 masks arrived from the strategic national stockpile. Whitmer told Tapper, “we’re going to make it through the weekend.”
“There are people from the White House on down who are working 24/7,” she said. “We are all stressed because we have people dying right now. I need assistance and any partnership and that’s what we’re starting to see on the feds and we’re grateful for it, but there’s so much more work to do.”
It was the second week in a row that Whitmer appeared on the Sunday morning political talk shows. A week ago, she criticized the federal government and called for more tests and supplies.
Meanwhile, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan sounded optimistic during a press conference Saturday after a call with the Vice President Mike Pence, saying “it sounds like they’re developing a good working relationship with the governor, and that’s what we need.”
The city of Detroit continues to be the epicenter of the virus with 1,377 of the 4,650 total cases in Michigan, as of 3 p.m. Saturday. March 28.
On Sunday morning, Whitmer issued a statement following the news that the Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to use the TCF Center as an alternate care facility. Whitmer said it would have about 900 bed spaces.
“The State of Michigan is working around the clock and doing everything we can to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” Whitmer said in the statement. “We are proud to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and the TCF Center to expand capacity in Detroit. By mobilizing quickly to construct a large alternate care facility in Detroit, we can help save lives.”
Late on Saturday night Whitmer signed an executive order approving a $2 million grant to help reconnect residents to water services that were shut off due to unpaid bills.