Whitmer remains silent on protesters’ ‘Death to America’ chants while weighing in on war in Israel, election

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer remained silent on protesters recently chanting, “Death to America” at an anti-Israel protest in her home state, but did weigh in on whether President Biden’s handling of the war in the Middle East could cost him the battleground state in November. 

“The state of Michigan is always going to be a close race, no matter what, under what scenario. I will share, though, as I’ve had conversations with people both in my Jewish community and in the Arab American and Muslim and Palestinian community, that a lot of people are hurting right now. A lot of people are one degree of separation from someone who’s lost their lives, whether it was on October 7, or is in the war in Gaza,” Whitmer told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker on Sunday morning when asked whether Biden’s handling of the war in Israel could cost him Michigan’s vote in the general election. 

“And so I’m trying to keep an open dialogue to stay focused on how we support these beautiful diverse communities here in Michigan.” 

BIDEN CAMPAIGN: WE DON’T WANT THE VOTES OF ‘DEATH TO AMERICA’ PROTESTERS IN MICHIGAN

Governor Whitmer

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks to supporters at a rally at the Crofoot Ballroom on November 6, 2022, in Pontiac, Michigan. (Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

Whitmer’s response came after Welker highlighted to the governor that Michigan has the largest population of Arab-Americans, and that nationally, polling shows that less than 20% of Arab-Americans would vote for Biden as war continues raging in the Middle East. 

WHITE HOUSE CONDEMNS ‘DEATH TO AMERICA’ CHANTS IN MICHIGAN, REP. RASHIDA TLAIB AND GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER MUM

Earlier this month, viral video circulated online showing protesters at an Al-Quds Day rally in Dearborn chanting, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” Whitmer has remained silent on condemning the chants, while the Biden administration condemned “these abhorrent and antisemitic remarks in the strongest terms” in comment to Fox Digital last week. 

Local activist Takek Bazzi.

Local activist Takek Bazzi (Middle East Media Research Institute)

The Biden campaign responded “No” when Fox Digital asked last week whether they still want votes from people who chanted at the rally on April 5.

‘DEATH TO AMERICA,’ ‘DEATH TO ISRAEL’ CHANTS POUR OUT OF MUSLIM PROTESTERS IN MICHIGAN ON LAST DAY OF RAMADAN

President Biden speaks

President Biden speaks about inflation and supply chain issues in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud also publicly denounced the chants, calling them “unacceptable and contrary to the heart” of Dearborn.

Abdullah H. Hammoud

Abdullah H. Hammoud, mayor of Dearborn, speaks during an interfaith prayer vigil for Aaron Bushnell outside the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn, Michigan, on March 3, 2024. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

“Over the weekend, video emerged of a rally in Dearborn where some attendees were chanting statements that were unacceptable and contrary to the heart of this city,” he said.

Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a member of the House’s left-wing Squad, has declined to condemn the chants, even when confronted by a Fox Business reporter last week.

ACTIVIST WHO SPURRED ‘DEATH TO AMERICA’ CHANTS CALLED FOR ISRAEL’S ‘ABSOLUTE ANNIHILATION’ IN UNEARTHED VIDEO

Gretchen Whitmer

Most columnists floated Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Mich., as a good replacement for Vice President Harris on Biden’s re-election ticket. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Welker did not specifically ask Whitmer about the protest earlier this month or the chants, but her lack of condemnation on the matter for more than a week has resulted in critical op-eds and outrage from state Republicans

Fox News Digital reached out to Whitmer’s office again Sunday, asking whether she condemns the chants, but did not immediately receive a reply. The governor’s office previously did not return Fox Digital’s other requests for comment as videos of the protest first circulated online. 

DEARBORN MAYOR SAYS BIDEN CAMP’S TRIP TO MICHIGAN WAS ‘DEHUMANIZING,’ PURELY FOR ‘POLITICAL MEANS’

During her “Meet the Press” appearance, Whitmer was also pressed on whether she agrees with some Democrats who have described the war in the Middle East as a “genocide” on Gaza, but she declined to weigh in on terms that “divide us.” 

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“I’m not gonna weigh in where I know that a lot of these terms are used to inflame and divide us. I’m gonna stay focused on being productive and hoping that we can have some peace very soon,” she responded. 

Fox News Digital’s Michael Lee contributed to this report. 

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