Gretchen Whitmer has walked a fine line in recent weeks, fighting for her state to receive crucial medical resources amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic in Michigan, while pushing back against Donald Trump’s insults on Twitter.
It’s a line she’s walked with several other governors across the country, who became targets of the president’s Twitter fingers while advocating for their states in conversations with the White House coronavirus response task force.
Ms Whitmer, who delivered the party’s official response to the president’s State of the Union address in February, now appears to have captured the attention of Joe Biden as he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.
The former vice president said he was considering the Michigan governor as a potential running mate during an interview with MSNBC’s Brian Williams, adding that he expects to have a list of between six to 10 possible candidates for the position.
Mr Biden said the governor “made the list, in my mind, two months ago” when asked whether Ms Whitmer “lengthened” his shortlist of candidates as her handling of the pandemic drew widespread praise from Democratic officials and voters alike.
The Michigan governor was thrust into the national spotlight after responding to numerous attacks from Mr Trump, who lambasted her in front of reporters and insulted her online, using the nickname “Half Whitmer” in a tweet.
“She’s not stepping up,” Mr Trump said. “I don’t know if she knows what’s going on, but all she does is sit there and blame the federal government. She doesn’t get it done and we send her a lot.”
The president also attacked Ms Whitmer during appearances on Fox News, telling Sean Hannity: “We’ve had a big problem with the young, a woman governor, you know who I’m talking about. From Michigan … We can’t — we don’t like to see the complaints.”
Ms Whitmer then wrote in a tweet of her own as the president’s Fox News interview drew media attention: “Hi, my name is Gretchen Whitmer, and that governor is me.”
“I’ve asked repeatedly and respectfully for help. We need it,” she continued. “No more political attacks, just PPEs, ventilators, N95 masks, test kits. You said you stand with Michigan — prove it.”
By Tuesday, the president had seemingly changed his tone about his relationship with Ms Whitmer, saying at a press briefing he had a good phone call with the governor about the latest developments surrounding the pandemic. Ms Whitmer also confirmed this week she has been in frequent contact with the administration.
That was far different from comments the president made just days ago, in which he said he instructed Vice President Mike Pence to ignore governors who were “not appreciative” of the administration’s efforts.
“He calls all the governors,” Mr Trump said earlier this week. “I tell him, I mean, I’m a different type of person. I say Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington, you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan.”
Though Mr Biden is still competing for the Democratic nomination against Bernie Sanders, he told MSNBC he was “confident about being the nominee” after significant wins in key early voting states.
He added: “I don’t see much change to that.”
The former vice president has previously vowed to nominate a woman as his running mate if he secures the Democratic nomination.