Hours after President Trump on Friday urged Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to “give a little” and make a deal with those protesting the state’s stay-at-home lockdown orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, former Vice President Joe Biden fired back.
“I'll say what Donald Trump won't: The Confederate flag, swastikas, and other symbols of hate that have been used in these protests have no place in America. The president should encourage folks to follow Gov. Whitmer’s public health orders — not sow further discord and division,” Biden said.
A couple hours earlier, the president had taken aim at Whitmer, who is believed to be under consideration to be a running mate by Biden.
“The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry,” Trump tweeted Friday. “They want their lives back again safely!”
He added: “See them, talk to them, make a deal.”
The president’s tweets came after dozens of protesters, some of whom were armed, gathered outside and then inside Michigan’s Capitol building Thursday – and unsuccessfully tried to reach the floor of state Senate chamber as lawmakers met -– to voice their opposition to Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders.
Demonstrators in Michigan – one of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus -- have continued to demand Whitmer roll back her stay-at-home order in an effort to reopen the state’s economy and allow residents to resume daily activities.
Some protesters at demonstrations across the country in recent weeks have carried confederate flags. Others have carried Trump reelection campaign signs.
At Thursday’s protest in Michigan, some demonstrators were wearing Trump campaign caps and a few carried signs equating Whitmer with Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler. Many of the demonstrators weren’t wearing masks or practicing social distancing to lower the chances of spreading the coronavirus.
MICHIGAN PROTESTERS STORM STATE CAPITOL IN FIGHT OVER CORONAVIRUS RULES
Last week, the first-term Democratic governor extended her state’s order through May 15, but loosened some restrictions, which took effect Friday. The new rules allow construction companies, real estate, and primarily outdoor companies to reopen on May 7. Whitmer’s new order said residents would be allowed to travel between residences but noted that it will be “strongly discouraged.”
Whitmer said two weeks ago following demonstrations at the Michigan Capitol and outside her resident that she respected their right to protest but raised concerns about those who ignored social distancing rules.
"We know that this demonstration is going to come at a cost to people's health," she said at the time.
On Friday, responding to the president’s tweet, Whitmer said, “We’re not just in a political crisis where we should just negotiate and find some common ground here. We’re in a public health crisis. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic that has already killed almost 4,000 people in our state.”
Whitmer stressed that “we are not out of this crisis” and said her decisions would be driven “by the data and by the medical experts, not political polls, not political posturing, and not political maneuvers like you saw yesterday at the state capitol.”
Biden’s repeatedly praised how Whitmer’s handled the coronavirus crisis in her state – and the governor’s considered one of the leading contenders to serve as Biden’s running mate.
Fox News' Allie Raffa contributed to this report