Video obtained by The ‘Gander shows John James is much more partisan when with small groups of donors.
MICHIGAN — John James has pushed a campaign of nonpartisanship as part of his effort to unseat Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, but a new video of him talking to supporters casts a far more partisan light on James.
“Now, I’ll tell you what, President Trump might be one of the only things standing between us and anarchy,” John James told supporters July 7.
In leaked video footage of a fundraising event where James addressed a small group of supporters, James framed Trump as the lone protector of American democracy, and said it was instrumental that Michiganders support him if they want to be personally successful.
The remark came after a month where Trump had dispersed a crowd of protesters by means of tear gas (a chemical weapon banned in warfare) in order to have a photo opportunity outside a church that he never entered in which he held a Bible upside-down. The remark also came after Trump threatened to deploy federal agents to quell protests following the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd — a threat he has since made good on with highly controversial results.
And since James’ comments, Trump also floated the idea of delaying the November presidential election, which would be unprecedented and unconstitutional. Presidential elections have happened on time during previous pandemics and even the Civil War, and Trump lacks the authority to delay a national election.
“So, so for all the stuff that you hear about the President, all the stuff you hear about the president, he’s just about the only volunteer in Washington, and for all his failings, we need to remember, we need to remember that we are all more successful when we support our president,” James said.
James hasn’t always been consistent on this point. While he notably said he was “2,000%” behind Trump in his last attempt to unseat one of Michigan’s Democratic senators, leaked audio from another event obtained by Politico showed James being far more critical of the president. James has also tried to distance himself from the “2,000%” support comment in the press, The ‘Gander reported.
James’ campaign also recently put out a campaign ad entitled “Unity is Everything” which argues unity is something missing in Washington. He also has told MLive that he disagrees with the idea of political partisanship.
“Nonpartisan solutions are going to be what take us to the future,” James said.
In a recent interview with WKAR, James further expanded on this point.
“I think that it is very, very clear that the partisanship and dysfunction that we’re seeing at Washington isn’t serving Michigan and it isn’t serving the United States of America,” he said. “I think that by focusing on non-partisan solutions, is how we emerge from this crisis and make sure that things like this never happen again.”
But at the private event July 7, James was far less focused on nonpartisanship. He encouraged his supporters to vote for Trump and slammed Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, as being a socialist.
He also implied Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was a socialist dictator, a favorite cry from the April and May protests of the governor’s pandemic protections that data suggests had been instrumental in curbing the spread of the pandemic coronavirus.
“We were talking about what would happen under socialism, and we’ve seen these Marxist theories thrown around. We talked about religious freedom and how that could be threatened,” said James. “We talked about top-down dictation to the American people. But now we don’t have to talk about it in theory. We’ve actually seen it. We’ve actually seen that some public gatherings are approved, other public gatherings are not.”
Following that comment, the event’s host joked that the meeting was now a protest, directly invoking the image of those late spring demonstrations.
Even James’ push to get voters to the polls lacked the nonpartisanship he has championed in media interviews.
“Four more years. Whatcha going to do about it?” he asked his supporters. “We’ve got to do more than just chat about what we want. We got to show up and take what we want. They just don’t give these seats away. They just don’t—and they, people are going to fight tooth and nail because they were embarrassed in 2016 by people who were patriotic enough to show up and say, we’re not going to outsource our free will to the Democrat elites in Washington, New York, and California.”
James is likely to win his primary Tuesday, making him the presumptive Republican opponent for Peters in November.
James did not return requests for comment by phone or email as of publication. As the footage was taken at a private fundraiser, The ‘Gander used the video’s metadata to verify its authenticity.