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Gov. Whitmer blames 'layer of misogyny' for recent criticisms despite Michigan having highest COVID-19 rate in US

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'I don't have time, though, to focus on that or to go punch for punch'

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer claimed Sunday that criticisms of her performance as governor and handling of the coronavirus pandemic are the result of "misogyny," and are untethered from her actual job performance.

The Democratic governor's comments came as Michigan experiences the highest COVID-19 positivity rate in the United States, as state officials there face scrutiny over their vaccine distribution plan (many Michiganders have traveled to Ohio to receive their shots), and as Whitmer faces her own nursing home scandal.

What did Whitmer say?

Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," Whitmer was asked about criticism from top Michigan Republicans.

Recently, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser said Michigan's top female Democratic politicians — Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson — are three "witches" who should be "ready for the burning at the stake," politically speaking. Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) also bragged about having "spanked" Whitmer on legislative battles, such as the state budget and political appointees.

Show host Margaret Brennan asked Whitmer, "But do you think there should be repercussions for misogynistic, threatening remarks like this?"

"I can tell you this, though, that sadly in this moment there have been a lot of death threats," Whitmer responded. "We know that there was a plot to kidnap and kill me. Death threats against me and my family. It's different in what I'm confronting than what some of my male counterparts are.

"So, yes, I do think that there is a layer of misogyny here that every woman in leadership has been confronting and dealing with to some extent," she continued.

"I don't have time, though, to focus on that or to go punch for punch. I'm not going to do that," Whitmer added. "I've got a job to do and that is helping get my state through this, helping get our economy back on track, supporting the American Jobs Plan so that that helps us do both of those things. And that's what I'm going to stay focused on."

What is happening in Michigan?

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Michigan currently has the highest rate of COVID-19 infection across the country at nearly 516 cases per 100,000 people. New Jersey is second-highest with just 300 cases per 100,000 people.

That means Michigan's infection rate is greater than the three most populous states — California, Texas, and Florida — combined.

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