Prominent Michigan Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell says she’s skeptical of polling showing Joe Biden consistently ahead of President Trump in her home state and said Democrats must work hard to avoid another Trump upset win.
Four years ago, Dingell said Trump could win the traditionally blue state of Michigan and now the congresswoman is sharing a similar warning that Michigan is not locked in for Biden.
“I think it’s a competitive race,” Dingell told Fox News. “I don’t believe the polls and I’m not going to stop working until Election Day.”
Adding to the volatility of the election is the racial unrest and police distrust boiling over in cities after the repeated killing and shooting of Black Americans — most recently Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back by police in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.
Night after night at the Republican National Convention, Trump and his allies have tried to drive home the message that Republicans are the law and order party, whereas Democrats are supporting the looting and rioting that has broken out at times in cities where protests have taken hold.
Dingell said Trump has been trying to make law and order a “wedge issue” and Democrats must push back about the mischaracterizations of Biden and the Democratic Party.
“I have flagged this issue two months ago because I could see people trying to use it as a wedge issue and I think it’s very important that Democrats not let that happen,” Dingell said. “Here’s a reality. We have Kenosha which is on fire because another Black man was shot in the back in front of his three children. And we have no explanation yet today.”
“The country watched George Floyd be murdered,” she continued. “If you are a Black man versus a white man, you’re going to be treated differently. They are teaching courses in this country if you’re a Black man or woman who gets stopped by the police what to do so you don’t get killed. We have to deal with it. But that does not mean that we support anarchy or destruction, looting and all these things that people are saying from the podium at the Republican convention. I support my law enforcement.”
“I do know Joe Biden is committed to supporting the police,” Dingell added.
Polling in Michigan has consistently found Biden beating Trump in the Great Lakes State. The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Biden ahead by 7 percentage points.
At the same time in 2016, Hillary Clinton led by 9 percentage points. Her edge was 3.6 percentage points in Michigan on Election Day.
Michigan — along with Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — are key battlegrounds states in 2020 after Trump narrowly won all three in 2016 and netted their Electoral College windfall to secure the presidency.
Trump’s campaign is making a play for suburban voters in these swing states claiming, without evidence, that Biden would let anarchists run amok and threaten their safety. Biden, however, has condemned the violence and has not campaigned on defunding the police, despite such demands from Black Lives Matter activists.
“I always try to be civil. But the fear and hate-mongering that has gone on the last few nights is just unacceptable,” Dingell said of the RNC.
She said Democrats support police, while still acknowledging there are race relations problems that need to be addressed.
“I’m not going to let anybody paint me or most of my Democratic colleagues as somebody who is supporting … these fires and this looting,” Dingell said. “But I do support the fact that we need a leader. We need a leader that’s not going to pour kerosene on a fire, that’s going to say: ‘We got a problem.'”
Dingell points to Kenosha as the latest example of the racial disparities in police interactions after two people were fatally shot and a third wounded.
Kyle Rittenhouse, a White 17-year-old from Illinois, was charged on Thursday afternoon with two homicide counts and one attempted homicide count.
Rittenhouse had come to Kenosha as part of a “local militia” to address the unrest after Blake’s shooting, the Journal Times reported. Video shows police giving Rittenhouse water and telling his group, “We appreciate you guys, we really do” not long before Rittenhouse allegedly opened fire, the paper reported.
“Have you seen the videos?” Dingell said of Rittenhouse. “The police thanked him for being there. Offered him water. He shot somebody and walked down the street.”
“That young white militia young man who’s been raised to hate killed two people and walked by policemen. If a Black young man, 17 years old, walked by law enforcement with a gun … he would have been on the ground. And what scares me is I don’t even know if he would still be alive today to talk about what he was doing.”
L. Lin Wood, the same attorney who represented Nicholas Sandmann, has mounted a legal defense for Rittenhouse and tweeted that “help is on the way” for the teen.
“Kyle will have excellent legal representation,” Wood wrote. “We owe him a legal defense.”
Rittenhouse’s attorney said the teenager was acting in self-defense. Cellphone footage shows the shooter being chased into a used car lot by someone before shots are heard and the person lies dead. The shooter then runs down the street where he is chased by several people shouting that he just shot someone. He stumbles after being approached by several more people and fires, killing another man and injuring a third.
“From my standpoint, it’s important that the message be clear to other Americans who are attacked that there will be legal resources available in the event false charges are brought against them,” he said. “Americans should never be deterred from exercising their right of self-defense.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.