During a campaign rally in Western Michigan, Trump pushed Whitmer to ease up on economic activity restrictions that she's instituted to curb the spread of COVID-19, which is rising in the area.
“You’ve got to get your governor to open up your state,” he said. “And get your schools open.”
Trump supporters then burst into a chorus of “lock her up,” a phrase he first used during his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, which has now been recycled to use against Whitmer and other notable Democrats. Trump didn’t deter their chants, instead telling the audience, “Lock ‘em all up.”
Whitmer quickly responded to him while he was still speaking. “This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans,” she tweeted. “It needs to stop.”
On CNN, Trump Campaign Senior Advisor Lara Trump defended Trump: “Well gosh, I'd like to show people my social media & the threats against me, the threats against my children... [Trump] was having fun at a Trump rally."
Trump has continuously attacked Whitmer—a first-term governor in a battleground state—for her COVID guidelines. In April, he tweeted in all caps, “Liberate Michigan,” and in another tweet, he called her the “lock-up queen.”
Earlier this month, the FBI uncovered a plot to kidnap and potentially hurt the governor, ultimately charging a total of 13 men for their involvement in the alleged conspiracy. However, the incident hasn’t mitigated criticism of her by Trump and other conservatives.
“I guess they said she was threatened, right? And she blamed me,” Trump later said. ”She blamed me, and our people were the ones that worked with her people, so let's see what happens. Let's see what happens.”