Before I take questions today I want to discuss my personal plans for the Thanksgiving holidays.
I think you all know that I try very hard to keep my high school-aged children out of the spotlight. They were not elected to anything. They did not choose this public life. And I have a reasonable expectation that their privacy will be protected.
I was taken aback by yesterday’s question about my family’s holiday plans, in part because my wife and I were in the process of making the very hard decision that we may need to celebrate Thanksgiving apart from one another for the first time ever, and it was weighing heavily on my mind.
I will be celebrating Thanksgiving in Chicago with our son.
Our state is at a crisis point when it comes to the COVID pandemic. And as leader, I believe that the situation is simply too grave for me to be elsewhere.
My wife and daughter are in Florida, and they will remain there indefinitely. Let me tell you why.
Last week, my daughter came under attack. In an attempt to have some political effect on me, a parody Twitter account posted a picture of a group of individuals eating outside at a Chicago restaurant, supposedly breaking the COVID rules the city put in place. And the person posting the photo claimed one of the people in it was my daughter. That was a lie.
It wasn’t her. But the picture falsely identifying her started making the rounds on social media, helped along by the trolls who permeate these social media platforms these days. My office put out a statement making clear this wasn’t my daughter. But that didn’t stop republican elected officials, a network of propaganda publications in the state and some radio shock jocks from telling people that the picture was of my daughter, despite knowing that this was a lie.
Which lent permission to a slew of strangers who sent hateful, threatening messages to my daughter over the subsequent few days. If that wasn’t bad enough, then a well-known lawyer who cares more about headlines than winning cases posted a bounty on his Facebook page, offering money to harass my family at Thanksgiving [click here]. An actual cash bounty, including my kids, harassing them. My high school-aged kids.
Put yourself in the shoes of a high school girl who is being weaponized against her father by his political opponents. Weaponized with lies.
Put yourself in my shoes. We have threats that stream into my office daily while we have watched the kidnapping plot against the Michigan governor unfold just a state away.
I’m the governor, I was elected to this job and while I don’t think it should come with a fear for my health and safety. I accept that sometimes it does. I’m an adult. And I can handle people throwing my face up on anti-semitic picket signs likening me to Hitler. This kind of vitriol is apparently what I have to deal with to keep the state and its people safe.
But my kids. My kids are off limits.
Among elected officials and people in positions of responsibility. That didn’t use to happen. There was a time in American politics when the rule was sacrosanct: Kids are off limits.
This should not be controversial. So I’m appealing to our collective sense of decency and our fundamental understanding of right and wrong to keep my child out of political disagreements, and to understand that I’m going to fight like hell to protect her privacy.
I ask that you all respect that privacy. I’m willing to make the hard decisions that sometimes brings on vitriol from political opponents, but my children shouldn’t have to come under attack. Just like all of you, I want to be with my family for the holidays. And just like all of you, because of COVID, my family is having to make sacrifices to stay safe.
This is not a political fight. This is a fight to save people’s lives. Let’s remember that as we enter the holiday season.
As always, please pardon any transcription errors.