At a pro-Dixon super PAC event in Troy, Michigan, Dixon criticized Whitmer for what the Republican called a dodgy business rule. He said Whitmer is “not a businessman” and “a politician with a law degree” and then hit on the kidnapping plot.
“It’s sad that Gretchen is going to tie your hands, put a gun to your head and ask you if you’re ready to talk,” Dixon said at the event hosted by former Trump White House aide Kellyanne Conway. “For someone so worried about being held hostage, Gretchen Whitmer sure is good at taking businesses hostage and holding them for ransom.”
Whitmer’s campaign and Democratic groups condemned Dixon’s remarks on Friday.
“Threats of violence and dangerous rhetoric undermine our democracy and discourage good people on both sides of the aisle from entering public service at all levels,” Whitmer campaign spokeswoman Maeve Coyle said in a statement.
“Governor Whitmer has faced serious threats to his safety and his life, and he appreciates the tireless work of law enforcement and prosecutors,” Coyle said. “Threats of violence – to Governor Whitmer or the candidates and elected officials on the other side of the aisle – are no laughing matter, and the fact that Tudor Dixon thought it was a joke shows that he is completely unfit to serve in public office.”
After his comments sparked backlash, Dixon joked again about the hijacking plan at a second event on Friday, this time with Donald Trump Jr. with the son of the former president.
He told the crowd, during a stop with President Joe Biden at the Detroit Auto Show last week, that Whitmer “looked like he’d rather be kidnapped by the FBI.”
“Yeah, the media: ‘Oh my gosh, he did it again,'” Dixon said, anticipating the reaction to his second reference of the day to the 2020 kidnapping plot.
When he told the crowd that his previous remarks about the Whitmer kidnapping plot had been taken as a joke, Dixon said, “No, that wasn’t a joke.” If you were afraid of that, you should know what it’s like to take your own life.”
The 2020 plot was foiled in part because FBI agents infiltrated the group while it was planning an attempt to kidnap Whitmer.
“Show of hands – how many feds in the crowd? I wanted to make sure there was no federal kidnapping plan,” Trump Jr. said.
“You know, Gretchen Whitmer knew about it months in advance. But you know what, if we get good PR out of it, we can pretend it’s real,” Trump Jr. said. “You know, the FBI can try to catch a couple of meth heads somewhere and run with that narrative now.”
Dixon, a conservative commentator and businessman from Norton Shores, won the Michigan Republican primary in August to face Whitmer. It was endorsed by Trump in the primary and is backed by the family of former education secretary Betsy DeVos Trump — a Michigan GOP mega-donor.
The Republican Governors Association, the group responsible for raising money and providing infrastructure for GOP gubernatorial campaigns, declined to comment on Dixon’s remarks.
“Tudor Dixon’s comments are dangerous, an insult to the law enforcement that keeps us safe, and completely disqualifying the role of Michigan’s governor. Dixon’s supporters in the DeVos family and the RGA should condemn his dangerous extremism,” Democratic Governors Association spokesman Sam Newton. he said in a statement.
Polls have consistently shown Whitmer leading the race.
Whitmer’s leadership is fueled in part by a renewed focus on abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end federal abortion rights. Whitmer has vowed to protect abortion rights in a state where Republicans control the legislature, and Democrats have successfully pushed for a referendum on this year’s ballot that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat up for re-election in November, called Dixon’s “reprehensible statement” in a tweet.
Whitmer, Nessel wrote on Twitter, “is the victim of his own very serious kidnap-and-kill plot. Anyone who would take this effort lightly is unfit to hold public office at any level.”