Whitmer to talk ‘dinner table issues’ after State of the Union

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — In her response to the State of the Union, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will focus on Democratic action in contrast to what she described as “Republican inaction,” especially in the U.S. Senate, she said Tuesday morning.

“At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what people say. What matters is what we do,” Whitmer told reporters at a press conference in Lansing. “So when the president speaks tonight, I’m not going to focus so much on what he says; I’m going to be focusing on actions that have been taken, actions that are happening across the country, especially in Democratic-led states, that create a stronger, more sustainable future for our kids and all Americans.”

President Donald Trump, a Republican, will address a joint session of Congress at 9 p.m. You can watch the speech live on WOOD TV8 or streaming live on woodtv.com.

Whitmer’s rebuttal for the Democrats will follow, delivered before a live audience from East Lansing High School, which her daughters attend.

She said she would talk about “dinner table issues” like infrastructure, jobs and health care access. She added she would “highlight the stark contrast between Democratic action and Republican inaction,” citing several bills passed by the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives that she said are now “gathering dust” in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“This is really about ensuring that the American people understand what Democrats stand for because I believe that American people deserve better and they deserve action,” Whitmer said. “They deserve leaders who are going to work for them, who want excellent schools and paths to good jobs, safe roads, clean drinking water and affordable, accessible, quality health care. That’s what Democrats are rolling up their sleeves and working on around the country and that’s what I’m going to stay laser-focused on tonight.”

Whitmer said she will mention Trump’s impeachment but wouldn’t focus on it.

She said that when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked her to give the response for the party, Pelosi advised her to speak about “a vision for America.”

Whitmer said when she agreed to do it, she wasn’t thinking about what it might mean for her political career on the national stage.

“I thought about the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the third most powerful person in our nation, called and asked me to step up and give and address because we recognize how important Michigan is and our experience resonates with others, and so I said yes. What it means on all those other fronts, I haven’t really given much thought to,” she said.

She said she was not interested in a job in Washington — a statement she has made before — and instead suggested her friend former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams as a potential vice presidential candidate.

The governor acknowledged her selection was due, at least in part, to Michigan’s relevance in the upcoming election. Trump won the state narrowly in 2016 — the first time a Republican presidential candidate had done so in decades — and Democrats hope winning it this time around could give them a clear path to the White House.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, will deliver the Spanish language response for the Democrats.

—News 8 political reporter Rick Albin contributed to this report.

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