Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer traveled to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration, despite having urged her own constituents to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The country is ready for a leader who listens to medical experts to lead our country’s COVID-19 response and works on behalf of hardworking Americans,” Whitmer said in a press release before the inauguration, according to local Fox 2 Detroit. “I am honored to attend the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and ready to begin working closely with each of them to fight this virus, save lives, and put the country back on track.”
“I wanted to be present and to support the next president and vice president as they take their oath of office,” said Whitmer, who co-chaired Biden’s inaugural committee. “I know they’re going to be great partners for us in Michigan, and so it was something that was important to me.”
“Whitmer has generally discouraged Michiganders from traveling and attending gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic,” according to the Detroit Free Press. “Her spokeswoman could not immediately say whether Whitmer was taking any special precautions or whether she was flying commercial or in a state plane.”
“Certainly she will adhere to all COVID-19 safety precautions as it relates to travel and while she’s there,” spokeswoman Tiffany Brown asserted.
Whitmer was hit with criticism from people such as GOP consultant Tori Sachs, who tweeted, “Gov. Whitmer can travel to D.C. and attend Joe Biden’s inauguration celebration but Michiganders can’t step into their local diner or Coney for a meal.”
Gov. Whitmer can travel to D.C. and attend Joe Biden's inauguration celebration but Michiganders can't step into their local diner or coney for a meal.
— Tori Sachs (@Tori_Sachs) January 19, 2021
Like Michigan, the nation’s capital has also been placed under strict lockdown orders. Democratic District Mayor Muriel Bowser was adamant that Americans stay away from Washington, D.C., though she has felt free to travel to places such as Wilmington, Delaware, to celebrate Biden’s electoral victory in the name of essential government business.
DC @MayorBowser’s Chief of Staff, @falcicchio says Mayor & her senior advisors met with @SymoneDSanders ( pictured with Bowser ) a senior advisor to @JoeBiden as part of their essential travel to Delaware. @nbcwashington https://t.co/GSkTC6ZbhJ
— Mark Segraves (@SegravesNBC4) November 9, 2020
“I want to reiterate my request to Americans enjoy this 59th inauguration of the president of the United States and the vice president of the United States at home. Enjoy it virtually on January 20th,” Bowser advised. “We know this is the right request for our public safety and our public health.”
Whitmer has been faced with accusations of COVID-19 hypocrisy before. As The Daily Wire reported:
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer condemned protests against her administration but changed her tune regarding the protests that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
In April, Michiganders stormed the State Capitol in Lansing to dissent from Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders, which kept “life-sustaining” abortion clinics open while forbidding things such as professional lawn care or traveling to a family member’s house. In response, Whitmer slammed the protesters, suggesting they were racist, and threatened to extend the order even longer.
A little more than a month later, Whitmer, whose coronavirus response has been ridden with allegations of scandal and hypocrisy, marched in close quarters with protesters yelling, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
Maintaining that ample hand sanitizer was present at the march, Whitmer said, “I felt it was an important moment to show my support and show a unified leadership out of the executive office of the governor and so the lieutenant governor and I joined.”