He also tells an audience member that the GOP is focused on winning 2022 races and “focused on the three witches” in an apparent reference to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson — all three Democratic women up for reelection next year.
At another point during the event, Weiser says the GOP’s “job now is to soften up those three witches and make sure that when we have good candidates to run against them, that they are ready for the burning at the stake.”
In the video, a woman in the crowd argues that Republicans can’t win “when we don’t have our own leadership that has our back.”
“Ma’am, other than assassination, I have no other way other than voting out,” Weiser replies, prompting some laughter from the crowd. “You people have to go out there and support their opponents. You have to do what you need to get out the vote in those areas. That’s how you beat people.”
Weiser in his Friday tweet said that his remarks were being taken out of context. “While I should have chosen my words more carefully, anyone who knows me understands I would never advocate for violence,” he said, adding that he’s spoken with Upton and Meijer.
Meijer’s office on Monday declined to comment. CNN has reached out to Upton as well as to Weiser for additional comment.
Ted Goodman, a spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, told CNN in a statement that Weiser was being “very clear that it is up to the voters to determine the nominees of the Republican Party, and to suggest anything else is dishonest and irresponsible.” Goodman also pointed out that Weiser had personally donated to all Republican congressmen in Michigan.
“We saw this firsthand when Republican legislators met with the very militias that tried to kidnap and kill the governor, and when Republican party leaders helped organize the January 6th protest at the U.S. Capitol building,” Leddy said in a statement to CNN.
Leddy added, “As the governor has said repeatedly, it’s time for people of good will on both sides of the aisle to bring down the heat and reject this kind of divisive rhetoric.”
Nessel responded with a tweet that included an edited photo of herself, Benson and Whitmer with witch hats, saying, “Witches who magically decrease Covid spread, increase voter turnout and hold sexual predators accountable without any help from the legislature? Sign me up for that coven. Do better, Michigan GOP.”
And Benson wrote on Twitter, “Thinking of all the young women leaders out there who aspire to serve and hold public office, hearing this hateful rhetoric in the headlines (and) feeling discouraged, deterred, or dismissed.”
“My message: Keep leading. The world needs your voice, your service, (and) your courage,” she added.
Weiser’s comments also prompted calls for his resignation from the University of Michigan’s board of regents.
Jordan Acker, a Democrat who serves with Weiser on the board, said that he should resign and that his “reckless and dangerous language does not reflect the values of our Board and our Institution.”
Weiser has said he does not intend to resign from the board of regents.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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