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Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, for an interview subject to a particularly glitchy feed from Zoom, Skype or whichever video service was being used, making her look at times a bit like she was wearing first world war “dazzle” camouflage. Our leaders are subject to the same trials of working from home as the rest of us, evidently, if not quite so eager to show off that they did an MA in British modern art.

Whitmer was asked about the protest in her state capital, Lansing, on Thursday in which men armed with “long guns” participated – carrying them legally, it should be noted, in the statehouse.

“We know that people are not all happy about having to take the stay home posture,” she said, “and you know what, I’m not either. But we have to listen to the public health experts and displays like the one we saw in our state capital are not representative of who we are in Michigan.

There were swastikas and Confederate flags and nooses and people with assault rifles. That’s a small group of people when you think that this is a state of almost 10m people, the vast majority of whom are doing the right thing.”

Armed protesters enter Michigan’s state capitol demanding end to coronavirus lockdown – video

Donald Trump has regularly expressed support for the Michigan protesters, who on Friday he called “very good people”, inviting comparisons to his infamous comments about the Charlottesville white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in the summer of 2017. (They were “very fine people”, for the inglorious record.)

Asked about the president’s comments, Whitmer said: “Some of the outrageousness of what happened in our capital this week depicted some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history in this country. Now, the Confederate flags and nooses, the swastikas, the behaviour that you’ve seen, is not representative of who we are in Michigan.”

In other words, she chose not to shout back at the president, or comment on his suggestion she should “make a deal” with such protesters.

Whitmer was also asked about her support for Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive challenger in November, who is accused of sexual assault and who might also name Whitmer as his running mate. More on that to come.

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