Detroit Free Press
Published 2: 32 PM EDT May 19, 2020
DETROIT – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has had “a conversation with some folks” connected to former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign about being his running mate, but stopped short of saying she is being seriously vetted for the job, she told a TV audience Tuesday.
Responding to a question put to her on NBC’s “Today” show about whether the vetting to be Biden’s vice presidential nominee has begun, Whitmer mentioned the conversation briefly before quickly adding, “All of my energy is going into this crisis,” referring to the coronavirus pandemic which has killed nearly 5,000 people in Michigan since March.
Biden, who won Michigan’s March 10 primary and is the presumptive Democratic nominee to face Republican President Donald Trump in November, said nearly two months ago that Whitmer — the governor of a state Trump won by two-tenths of 1% of the vote four years ago — was on his list of potential running mates.
But Whitmer’s comments to “Today” news host Craig Melvin were among the first in which she has suggested vetting has started and that the campaign has talked to her about it. When he asked if she could provide more details about the discussions, Whitmer described it as “an opening conversation and … not something I could call a professional, formalized vetting.”
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She said she was “making a little bit of time to stay connected to the campaign,” but that her overall focus was on Michigan, calling her job as governor “the honor of a lifetime.”
Whitmer has clearly raised her national profile in recent months, however. Last week, she had appearances on CNN and ABC’s “The View” and joined an online discussion with Biden and two other governors about the response to coronavirus. On Monday, she appeared on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” saying protests against her stay-at-home orders, where some have displayed Confederate flags and firearms, don’t represent the real Michigan.
Republicans, especially those in Michigan, have criticized Whitmer for her TV appearances, saying she is auditioning for the vice presidential nomination.
Biden made clear in March he would pick a woman to be his running mate. Among those expected to be up for consideration are U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; former Georgia state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and others.
Contact Todd Spangler at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @tsspangler. Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.