Whitmer Now Says Biden Can Win Michigan

Earlier today, Ed wrote about the POLITICO report that Whitmer told the White House that after the debate performance of Biden last Thursday, Michigan was now out of reach. 


Whitmer has been trying to tamp down any idea that she is lobbying to replace Joe on the ballot because she is clearly lobbying to replace Joe Biden on the ballot. 

Now Whitmer is walking back, or rather outright denying, the claim that Michigan is lost to Democrats if Biden remains on the ballot. 

From Ed:

One of the most prominent names bandied about since 9:06 pm ET Thursday is that of Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, whose state will be critical to Democrat hopes in November. Her name got bandied about so much, in fact, that Whitmer began worrying about looking disloyal to the naked emperor, according to Politico’s Jonathan Martin. A full day after Biden’s debacle, Whitmer called the White House to disavow the ‘Draft Gretch chatter’:

Whitmer’s conversation with the official, campaign chair Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, was cordial but awkward by its very nature. In the aftermath of the president’s disastrous debate performance last Thursday, no would-be replacement has been the recipient of more wish-casting among despairing Democrats than the second-term Michigan governor.

Whitmer, recognizing as much, disavowed the Draft Gretch chatter. She used the call to reiterate her commitment and willingness to help the president but also voiced her concern about how much more difficult the campaign would be now for Biden, I’m told by a person familiar with the call.

But … that’s not the end of the story. With Biden now clearly doddering, the market has belatedly opened to all those within the party with presidential ambitions — especially among the governors. Those ambitions got pushed off until 2028 after Biden decided to run for a second term and the DNC locked out any significant primary challenges, but they’re beginning to heat up now. And so has the back-stabbing, it seems, but at least that shook loose a pretty significant nugget, emphasis mine:

Even more revealing is how word of the call reached me: from someone close to a potential 2028 Whitmer rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. This person said Whitmer had phoned O’Malley Dillon with more of an unambiguous SOS: to relay that Michigan, in the wake of the debate, was no longer winnable for Biden.


The problem with Whitmer’s denial is that it is transparently false. There is zero doubt that she would have called the White House to reassure the campaign that she wasn’t lobbying for the job because openly doing so is political death. She isn’t openly lobbying to replace Biden for the same reason Gavin Newsom isn’t: nobody will forgive the first politician to come out for Biden’s replacement, and Biden is less likely to leave if it looks like he is getting pushed out. 

The sharks are circling, of course, but none of them want to take the first bite of a still dangerous opponent. Let somebody else weaken him and THEN go in for the kill. 

Or, to use a different metaphor, if you are going for the king, you better make sure you kill him the first time because you won’t get a second. 

All the contenders want donors, Obama, the media, or somebody else to get Biden out of the race, and nobody wants Biden’s people to drag them down with the president. 

Whitmer’s warning about Biden losing Michigan is being read as going after the king, so she is denying she ever said what she almost certainly did. 

Incidents like these are one reason why keeping Biden on the ballot is almost certain death for the Democrats in the race; everybody is walking on eggshells, positioning themselves in case Biden drops out without trying to look like they are while donors and outsiders are sniping at everyone. 


It is almost no win, and the longer this goes on the more difficult it will be, especially if Joe takes the nomination officially soon. Reports are that the DNC is likely to move up its official nomination date to mid-July, weeks before the convention. 

Expect more denials like the ones from Newsom and Whitmer. Every potential contender is going to be pressed about whether they would run, and everyone will deny that they are considering it. All while quietly lobbying for a shot if Biden drops out. 

The big winners will be the media, even more than Trump. Trump, after all, is finally not the most interesting story in politics. 



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