Gov. Whitmer has a wicked sense of humor, and COVID-19 hasn’t wiped it out of her yet. Here’s a roundup of some of her wittiest moments.
MICHIGAN — In these tough times, a sense of humor can get you far. And there’s no one who knows that better than “Big Gretch” herself, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
She’s caught national attention time and time again for her creative campaign videos, swift clapbacks on Twitter, and collection of tongue-in-cheek T-shirts.
Over past months, though, the nation has watched as she’s led the state through layered crises: the coronavirus pandemic, destructive flooding in mid-Michigan, and a backslide in unemployment, to name a few. She’s also committed to making meaningful police reforms in support of the ongoing national uprise against racial injustice and police brutality.
Her patterns of decisive, effective action throughout the first half of 2020 have elevated her approval rating, according to a poll released in June: According to data from Lake Effect, she has a 53% approval rating in Michigan. (President Trump’s approval rating among Michiganders? 44%, as of the date of publication.)
Throughout all of Michigan’s recent hardship and strife, Gov. Whitmer has retained the characteristic sense of humor that helped her connect with constituents and win the gubernatorial race against former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette back in 2018.
“Gretchen has always just made people feel comfortable,” said Tashawna Gill, political director for the governor’s campaign. “She’s a big person with all these responsibilities, but once she is with those constituents … she knows how to make them feel comfortable. And that’s a powerful thing right there.”
Today, we’re taking a look at some of Gov. Whitmer’s wittiest moments from her campaign and her first extraordinary year-and-a-half in office.
1. July 11, 2018: Gretchen Reads Mean Tweets
“On the campaign trail, we sometimes run into people looking to throw shade our way,” reads the description of this video. “So we decided to do our own episode of Mean Tweets.”
Inspired by a popular segment of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Gov. Whitmer’s campaign team gathered some offbeat comments and criticism from the Twitterverse and asked her to respond.
One Twitter user offered, “Mannnnnn…… Gretchen Whitmer so damn fine she makes me wanna be a Democrat again.”
“We’re gonna win this election one vote at a time,” she retorted.
Some accusations were so outlandish all she could do was laugh. Catch the full video:
2. December 6, 2019: “Happy BAT Day!”
After Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey called Gov. Whitmer “bats**t crazy” to a group of college Republicans, she came up with a response to take the cake.
She sent him a black-iced cake for his 65th birthday that said “Happy 65th BAT Day!” decorated with a white-frosted bat spreading its wings.
Shirkey did tweet his thanks to the governor, and his spokeswoman said “a good sense of humor” was helping repair the relationship, reports The Associated Press.
Check out this video from WZZM to see the cake at the center of it all:
3. February 27, 2019: Damn It Feels Good to Be a Michigangster
Gov. Whitmer’s all about reppin’ her state pride, and this mug is just one piece in her collection of Michigan merch. (Also worth mentioning are her Michigan mittens, which, when worn and displayed correctly, make a cohesive state of Upper and Lower Peninsulas.)
’Ganders were here for it in the replies.
“That cup!”; “Serious mug envy rn”; “Where did you get it? Please and thank you” …
One Twitter user even replied with a video of legendary actor Danny Trejo sporting his own Michigangster T-shirt.
4. May 2, 2020: Big Gretch
“We ain’t even ‘bout to stress, we’ve got Big Gretch. / You can find her in the press under Big Gretch.”
Detroit rapper GmacCash created Gov. Whitmer’s anthem, “Big Gretch,” as a tribute to her leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. Check out some of the lyrics:
If you wanna leave the state you can stay gone,
But right now Big Gretch says stay home.
All that protesting was irrelevant.
Big Gretch ain’t trying to hear ya’ll or the President.
How we gonna take orders from a non-resident,
Talkin’ bout it’s safe but he ain’t coming with the evidence.
When it’s all over, you invited to the cookout.
When it’s all over, you deserve to get took out.
And she doing it for Michigan,
So when she at the stand everybody should be listening.
And the Big G herself embraced her new nickname after the song’s release.
“This is too much,” she posted on Twitter. “Love the nickname. Love the song. See ya at the cookout, GmacCash. Until then, Big Gretch says stay home and stay safe.”
Here’s the full song:
5. April 26, 2020: Gov. Whitmer Gets Spoofed on SNL
“Hey there. I’m Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. Might surprise you to be hearing from me, some smokeshow Midwestern governor nobody heard about ‘til a couple weeks ago. But governors are kinda havin’ a moment right now.”
That’s how Cecily Strong began her nearly spot-on impression of Gov. Whitmer a couple months into the pandemic, filmed in a woodsy, vaguely Midwestern setting as the Saturday Night Live cast and crew worked remotely to avoid infection.
We say “nearly spot-on” because she made one big misstep in her impression: Michigan’s governor would never drink a Labatt’s.
“It’s kind of funny, but they got the beer wrong,” Gov. Whitmer told Fox 2. “It should have been a Michigan beer, not Labatt. We love Canada, but we drink Michigan beer.” She sported a (closed) bottle of Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale during the interview.
To get Strong on the right track, Gov. Whitmer sent her a Michigan care package full of Bell’s Brewery souvenirs, stickers, and, of course, six-packs.
Catch the full SNL skit:
Bonus: Gov. Whitmer’s T-Shirt Collection
The Gov is known to rock a fun T-shirt, and she’s even used graphic tees to make a point on camera. Here’s a look at some of our favorites.