Tudor Dixon, the Republican Party’s pick to run the state of Michigan, mocked her incumbent opponent on Friday for being the target of a kidnapping plot that landed some of the organizers in federal prison.
More than a dozen men were arrested in 2020 for conspiring to capture Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) by force, potentially to kill her.
Dixon attempted to draw a parallel between the kidnapping scheme and Whitmer’s policies, which Dixon says are bad for Michigan businesses, but she ended up delivering a bizarre punchline.
“The sad thing is that Gretchen will tie your hands, put a gun to your head and ask if you’re ready to talk. For someone so worried about being kidnapped, Gretchen Whitmer sure is good at taking business hostage and holding it for ransom,” Dixon said.
Her comments elicited applause from the crowd of about 300 at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, Michigan, according to The Detroit News.
Whitmer’s campaign responded with a statement emphasizing the severity of the conspiracy against her.
“Threats of violence ― whether to Governor Whitmer or to candidates and elected officials on the other side of the aisle ― are no laughing matter, and the fact that Tudor Dixon thinks it’s a joke shows that she is absolutely unfit to serve in public office,” it read.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said Dixon’s comments were “repugnant.”
“Anyone who would make light of such an effort is not fit to hold public office at any level,” Nessel wrote in a tweet.
But Dixon was not deterred, mocking Whitmer at a different event later on Friday. She recalled the governor’s meeting with President Joe Biden at last week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
“The look on her face was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is happening. I’d rather be kidnapped by the FBI,’” Dixon said, describing Biden’s hand touching Whitmer’s.
Dixon went on to repeat her earlier line for Detroit crowd, too.
“Earlier today I said, ‘You know, Gretchen Whitmer, since she’s so worried about kidnapping, she shouldn’t have held our businesses hostage.’ And they were like, ‘She made this joke about kidnapping,’” Dixon said. “And I’m like, no, that wasn’t a joke. If you were afraid of that, you should know what it is to have your life ripped away from you.”
It was an apparent reference to Whitmer’s handling of the pandemic.
Whitmer’s communications director, Maeve Coyle, responded Friday to the escalation.
Here's Tudor Dixon doubling down on jokes about threats of violence against Gov. Whitmer:
"The look on her face was like... I'd rather be kidnapped by the FBI"
Dixon supports eliminating personal income tax and slashing nearly in half what her website calls “Michigan’s enormous regulatory code” in order to “unlock economic growth and attract new businesses and workforce talent to the state.” Dixon would “rapidly enact pro-growth policies and rehabilitate the state’s image as hostile to business,” but her website does not offer much detail.
She secured an endorsement from former President Donald Trump this summer.
In October 2020, the FBI charged six men with federal crimes for plotting to kidnap Whitmer, while several others accused of being involved were charged with state crimes.
The men were particularly angry about the precautions Whitmer enacted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic. One of them told an FBI informant that he needed 200 men to “storm” the state Capitol so they could capture Whitmer and put her on trial in Wisconsin for “treason,” according to the FBI affidavit.