Tudor Dixon repeatedly mocks Gretchen Whitmer for being target of kidnapping conspiracy

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'That wasn't a joke,' the Republican nominee for Michigan governor told a crowd at an event alongside Kellyanne Conway in defense of remarks she made about Whitmer.

Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon made light of a 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), her opponent, in two different appearances on Friday.

Dixon, delivering remarks at a campaign event regarding Whitmer's pandemic policies on business, told the crowd, “The sad thing is, 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.”

Kidnapping Whitmer was more than a worry she had: Several far-right extremists planned and prepared to orchestrate an attempt to kidnap her, which prosecutors have argued was planned in response to Whitmer's policies to stop the spread of COVID-19, in the hope that the plot would inspire similar actions against other officials across the country.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) tweeted on Friday: "This statement is repugnant. @GovWhitmer is the victim of a very serious plot to kidnap and assassinate her. Anyone who would make light of such an effort is not fit to hold public office at any level."

Dixon similarly mocked the threat against Whitmer later that same day at a rally in Muskegon, following an appearance by Kellyanne Conway, a former adviser to Donald Trump. While mimicking Whitmer when she recently held Joe Biden's hand during their attendance at the Detroit Auto show, Dixon said Whitmer would "rather be kidnapped by the FBI."

In reference to her comments from earlier that day, Dixon told the crowd, "No, that wasn't a joke. If you were afraid of that you should know what it's like to have your life ripped away from you. That was a joke, just so the media gets it."

In February 2022, two of the accused defendants, Ty Gerbin and Kaleb Franks, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges as well as part of a plea agreement. In August, two others,  Barry Croft and Adam Fox, were convicted in federal court on charges of kidnapping conspiracy and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.

Whitmer told the Washington Post in July, "They were going to put me on a trial and then execute me. It was an assassination plot, but no one talks about it that way. Even the way people talk about it has muted the seriousness of it."

Dixon is not the first Michigan Republican to dismiss the seriousness of the kidnapping plan. Garrett Soldano, one of Dixon's opponents in the gubernatorial primary, claimed the kidnapping was fake in a statement to his campaign website, alleging that "The FBI conceived a plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer and preyed on Michiganders to push it along."

Matt DePerno, the Republican nominee for state attorney general, echoed Soldano's claim in a tweet in April: "On @TruckerRandy's radio show I said the Whitmer kidnapping sham was entrapment by the FBI designed to create a false narrative before the election. I can't wait to investigate this one," he said. "@gretchenwhitmer stop shredding docs and deleting emails."

Whitmer's public health measures, which played a key role in the kidnappers' motivations, are credited for possibly saving thousands of lives — but Dixon has repeatedly criticized them, and claims on her campaign website that “lockdowns destroyed Michigan.”

Dixon vows to investigate those pandemic policies if she takes office. Whitmer’s director of public health, Robert Gordon, has already defended several of the actions taken throughout the pandemic in front of members of the state's legislature multiple times. He denounced claims that Whitmer’s policies created a high death toll as “baseless and groundless.”  

In response to Dixon’s first remarks, Whitmer’s campaign told the Local 4 Detroit news station: “Threats of violence – whether to Governor Whitmer or to candidates or 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's absolutely unfit to serve in public office."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.