2020 Election

Whitmer: I Had ‘Opening Conversation’ About Being Biden’s Running Mate

Michigan's struggles with the deadly coronavirus have Governor Gretchen Whitmer's (D.) undivided attention as long as the possible V.P. pick is not talking to the Joe Biden campaign about potentially joining the Democratic ticket.

Whitmer appeared on NBC's Today Show on Tuesday to stress that the national spotlight has not diminished her attention to the plight of Michigan residents.

"I've had a conversation with some folks. … It was just an opening conversation, and it's not something that I would call a professional, formalized vetting," she said on Today. "I am making a little bit of time to stay connected to the campaign, but the most important thing that I have to do right now is be the governor of my home state. That's all that matters to me in this moment."

Whitmer's national profile has surged during the pandemic, in part due to the governor's feuding with President Donald Trump. She has been a frequent guest on network and cable news programs while remaining coy about her interest in running with Biden. She told the New York Times last month that she was "not thinking about politics."

"All of my energy is going into helping my state through this crisis, unlike one that we've seen in 100 years in this country," she said on Tuesday. "We have to get it right. I was elected to be the governor of the state of Michigan."

She has faced mass protests from conservative Michiganders for her extensive lockdown orders, drawing particular criticism when she declared marijuana dispensaries and lottery ticket vendors "essential" businesses while shuttering gardening and hardware stores. She was also forced to rescind a contract to a Democratic consulting firm for tracking the coronavirus after critics balked.

Whitmer is one of several women on Biden's shortlist to join him on the 2020 ticket. Michigan is a prime pickup target for Democrats after Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate since 1988 to win it.