President Trump has targeted Michigan’s trifecta of female leaders ahead of the 2020 presidential election, picking fights over everything from coronavirus response to voting rights. Clockwise from top left: Attorney General Dana Nessel (AP Photo/Paul Sancya File); Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Photo via Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Office); Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (Photo via Facebook); President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Trump has targeted Michigan’s trifecta of female leaders ahead of the 2020 presidential election, picking fights over everything from coronavirus response to voting rights. Clockwise from top left: Attorney General Dana Nessel (AP Photo/Paul Sancya File); Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Photo via Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Office); Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (Photo via Facebook); President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The New York Times explores whether Trump’s targeted attacks on Michigan’s women leaders are a calculated campaign or just more sexism (or maybe a little bit of both). We have the highlights.

MICHIGAN — President Donald Trump is known for his propensity to attack others in power, especially if they’re female. Since Michigan’s top elected officials are all women, he faces a force to be reckoned with in this key battleground state. The ongoing and oftentimes contentious back-and-forth between Trump and Michigan’s female leadership was the focus of a recent article by the New York Times.  

The article details how Trump has targeted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in an aggressive campaign against Michigan’s female leaders executed largely via Twitter.

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After Michigan helped usher Trump into office in 2016 — the first time the state voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, the Times noted — Whitmer, Nessel, and Benson were swept into statewide office, flipping much of Michigan’s leadership from red to blue and putting a trifecta of women in charge of running the state for the first time. 

That may be part of why the president is targeting them, the Times suggested. In Michigan, a key battleground state, Trump is trailing Biden in the polls, and it hasn’t escaped notice that Trump has zeroed in on Whitmer’s, Nessel’s, and Benson’s mission to expand voting rights in a state where his 2016 winning margin of just 10,704 votes was the narrowest in the country.

However, the Times notes, the president’s frequent barbs — he has notably written Gov. Whitmer off as “that woman from Michigan,” called Nessel “the Wacky Do Nothing Attorney General,” and labeled Benson “a rogue Secretary of State” — are actually alienating everyday Michigan voters who empathize with the women in charge of the state. 

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And the three elected leaders continue responding forcefully to Trump, suing his administration, criticizing the lack of a federal strategy to fight the coronavirus, and speaking out against his misinformation campaign surrounding the state’s effort to maximize access to absentee voting during the pandemic. 

The Times article hits on Benson’s op-ed article published in Newsweek in late May, where she pondered why the president had singled her out when at least six other states were also sending absentee ballot applications to all voters. 

Benson suggested the obvious answer is because “Michigan is one of several states that will heavily influence the outcome of this year’s presidential election.” But the Times brought in political experts observing the feud between the White House and Michigan’s female leadership who posit another reason for Trump’s attacks: his history of demeaning prominent women. 

In fact, the founder of one nonpartisan polling firm in Lansing said Trump “has systematically attacked every prominent female politician in Michigan.”

To read more about Trump’s calculated (?) campaign against Gov. Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, check out The New York Times’ full article here. You’ll find more details on the progressive moves each woman has made in office that have fueled the flames of Trump’s Twitter jabs, and more on the unintended consequences of those jabs — which have ended up driving anti-Trump sentiment among Michigan voters rather than pit them against their own leaders. 

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