When the president arrives in Michigan on Thursday to tour a Ford manufacturing plant outside Detroit, it is all but certain that the state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, won’t be on the tarmac to greet him. In fact, Whitmer told Yahoo News in a phone conversation on Tuesday that “at this juncture” nobody at the White House had yet contacted her, some 48 hours ahead of Trump’s arrival in her state.
The White House had nothing to say on the record. But as a potential sign of things to come, Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning about Michigan expanding its vote-by-mail access, baselessly alleging that state officials had “illegally” sent absentee ballots to millions of the state’s residents. He made no mention of the two dams that broke on Tuesday in Midland, Mich., causing flooding and leading Whitmer to declare a state of emergency.
For her part, the governor called the president’s tweet “disheartening.” (He later deleted the tweet, only to issue a similar one that distinguished between ballots and ballot applications, but again falsely claiming that the move was illegal.)
Governors don’t have to meet arriving presidents, of course. But they frequently do. In 2012, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, met President Obama on the tarmac of a Phoenix airport, where they proceeded to publicly argue in view of cameras about how she portrayed him in her book. But after a wildfire killed 19 firemen some 20 months later, and Obama returned to Phoenix, she was there to greet him again, more pleasantly this time.
No pleasantries are expected on Thursday, when Air Force One will presumably land at Detroit Metro Airport ahead of Trump’s expected visit to the automotive plant. The lack of coordination is a sign of just how acrimonious things have become between the 48-year-old governor and the 73-year-old president, who has frequently used her as a foil, encouraging armed protesters at the statehouse in Lansing and pushing her to reopen the state quicker than she has wanted to.