LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she will use her State of the Union rebuttal Tuesday night to focus on the 'dinner table issues' that got her elected.
“Because expanding the right to overtime for tens of thousands of people in our state, expanding access to health care for more than 680,000 people in this state...that is a powerful message," she said Tuesday morning.
Whitmer said she believes she was chosen to give the response not only because of how important Michigan will be in the upcoming election, but also, because her platform will resonate with people across the country.
She will give her speech in front of a live audience at East Lansing High School, where her daughters attend. Whitmer said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told her to pick a place that made her comfortable.
“I wanted to address our teachers and our students and our parents. People that are thinking about the future in this country. People who know that bullying people on Twitter doesn’t build bridges," Whitmer said. "I wanted to be surrounded by their energy frankly.”
She said Pelosi also told her to focus less on what exactly President Trump says during his address, and instead, to focus on a 'vision for America.'
"I’ve shared my remarks with the Speaker and I think that I am conveying the message she assumed that I would," Whitmer said.
Whitmer said she sought advice from former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who delivered the SOTU democratic response last year. However, Whitmer says she plans to stick to what she knows while also highlighting the work of the democratic party.
“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," she said.
Whitmer said she will also highlight the 'inaction' by Republicans at the federal level.
“Right now, there are more than 275 bi-partisan bills that Nancy Pelosi and Congress have sent to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk and they are just gathering dust," she said.
Though her speech is already written, Whitmer indicated that if something unexpected happens during President Trump's SOTU, she will be 'nimble.'
“I am responding to someone who is unpredictable to put it lightly," she said. "This is probably the most stressful time of his presidency."
President Trump will deliver his third State of the Union on Jan. 4 amid the trial for his impeachment in the Senate, though his acquittal is likely imminent.
Whitmer said she plans to address the impeachment trial 'very quickly' in her speech.
The governor's speech will put her at the forefront of the Democratic Party for the evening. Her name has previously been floated as a possibility for vice president, but Whitmer said on Tuesday that she ran for office in Michigan to be close to her family and the people she serves.
“I am not interested in going to Washington D.C., I never have been. I would encourage any candidate who gets to that point to look very closely at my good friend Stacey Abrams," she said.
Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes in 2016. For democrats to win Michigan back in 2020, Whitmer says the candidates need to spend time in the state and actually engage with voters.
"Showing up, listening and really staying focused on these fundamentals...is the most important thing any of these candidates can do," she said.
President Trump's speech is expected to begin around 9 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, will deliver a State of the Union response in Spanish from her hometown of El Paso, Texas.
More stories on 13 ON YOUR SIDE:
- MSU football coach announces retirement
- Black History Month display at MSU sparks outrage
- GVSU coach who resigned following Hitler comment to get settlement payment
Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.