In response to chants of "lock her up" at last night’s Trump campaign rally referencing Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder tells CNN’s Ana Cabrera, "Look, to put it simply, he's just flat out wrong. It's absolutely inappropriate to help drive comments like that from a crowd, to encourage people to do that. That's not how America should be."
Here is the complete transcript of the interview:
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: With us now is the Former Republican Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder. He has endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 race.
Thanks for being with us. I first just want to get your reaction to the president’s comments about your successor, Governor Whitmer, the “lock her up” chants at this rally that he held there yesterday. And Lara Trump now saying the president was just, quote, having fun.
RICK SNYDER (R), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Yeah, Ana. It’s great to be with you.
Look, to put it simply, he's just flat out wrong. It's absolutely inappropriate to help drive comments like that from a crowd, to encourage people to do that. That's not how America should be.
And he's not learned anything from the time he was running in 2016. He's doubling down now on dividing our country. And that's one of my huge issues, why I don't support him and I support Joe Biden. He's been our divider-in-chief in this country and we need to get back to civility in our nation.
CABRERA: Why aren't we hearing more of that from leaders of your party, current Republican lawmakers? Why aren't they telling the president to knock this off?
SNYDER: Well, some of us are. I mean, in a lot of ways, he intimidates. He's a bully. And people are concerned about what he may do to their state in terms of cutting off aid or doing other things. I mean, that's just further representing why he shouldn't be in office any longer.
He's proven that he's not done a good job. He's actually driven division. He's caused many problems in our country. And we need new leadership.
So, the way I looked at it was not only just not supporting Trump, but Joe Biden actually shows an ability to heal. I mean, if you look at his track record, his history, and what he's talking about today, it's talking about bringing people back together.
I know I’ll have policy differences with him but at least I’ll have someone I can have a reasonable discussion with and somebody that’s going to listen. Isn’t that the way our country should operate?
CABRERA: Governor Whitmer's Deputy Digital Director tweeted this: I see everything that is said about and to her online every single time the president does this at a rally, the violent rhetoric towards her immediately escalates on social media. It has to stop. It just has to.
Governor, is the president endangering the current governor's life?
SNYDER: Well, again, I want to be careful about not making speculative comments like that. What I would say is, it is absolutely wrong. There's no doubt about it. It's inappropriate. It's not helping our country. It's not helping Michigan. It's not helping our current governor.
And we should all be rallying together. We're in a pandemic. Look at the deaths going on, the challenges in our country, the need to bring our economy back. We shouldn't be in discussions like this or have people bring out ugly, nasty comments like this. We should be talking about how we can heal, both in terms of the COVID issue and our economy.
CABRERA: I think everybody can appreciate your message about unity, but what makes you think this will stop if Joe Biden is elected? Trump is just one person. A lot of people say Trump is a symptom, not the root cause of the divisiveness.
SNYDER: I think he's both. But he is part of the cause. I mean, if you look at it, he's fueled these fires. So, I don't think it's going to change overnight but we need to get back on a more positive path of people working together.
And what I encourage Joe Biden to do, assuming he does get elected president, and I hope he does, is to find some common ground issue that we can all rally around to show we can all win. This shouldn't be about someone winning and someone losing.
We need to get back to the model of how do we make everyone better off in this country in a collective fashion versus having winners and losers and having people say, you know, you're on my side or you're against me. We're Americans. I’ve said --
CABRERA: The fear --
SNYDER: The greatest threat to our country is us, and in terms of this incivility and how we're treating one another.
CABRERA: Right. And so that fear, that divisiveness, the current climate, has a lot of people concerned about what happens on Election Day or after, no matter who wins. The Michigan Secretary of State, in fact, has now issued this directive that banned open carrying of guns at polling places, clerk's offices and other locations where absentee ballots are counted.
What’s your reaction to this directive? Do you think it was necessary?
SNYDER: Well, again, you look at the situation of what's going on with the kidnap attempt, things like that, I think it's a reasonable thing to look at during the circumstances.
And, again, there's so much rhetoric that are sort of discouraging people from voting in some fashion. We need to encourage everyone to vote.
I just put a message out on social media about how I voted and it was great. The clerk in my community actually sent me an e-mail saying they’ve got my ballot. They verified it. It’s sitting there. It’s just waiting to be counted on Election Day. That's good service. That's the kind of service we need and, hopefully, that will encourage people to use these mechanisms as opposed to having to stand in line on Election Day.
CABRERA: The Secretary of States says this ban on open carrying has to do with voter intimidation and preventing that. Are you worried about voter intimidation at the polls in Michigan?
SNYDER: Well, again, I worry about it everywhere in the environment we’re in right now, whether it’s because of firearms or not. Again, this is where we need to have a civil election.
And, again, they've had rules for years about you can't do certain things within so many feet of a polling place. I remember those days. I've gone through that myself, not in this nasty environment. It's only gotten worse so let's try to keep our polls safe. Let’s try to create an environment where we encourage people to vote. And everyone should do that.
It was amazing. When I posted how I voted, I had people come out and criticize me because they thought -- I didn't say how I was voting one way or another. Simply just please go vote. People can't even be nice when you just said you voted in this country today. That's awful.
CABRERA: Yes. And when you look at the current health situation, the COVID cases there in Michigan, do you think Governor Whitmer has been too strict? Would you have done anything differently?
SNYDER: Well, again, I’m not here to make comments on my successor, other than to say, this has been a terrible circumstance. She needed to take action. The governors collectively in our country had this -- had more responsibility placed on them because the president abrogated much of the federal responsibility to act.
So, I appreciate governors speaking up. And I appreciate our governor speaking up trying to solve a terrible situation. There is no perfect answer. Nothing is going to go without some issues happening. And the main thing is, how do we support one another as opposed to how do we tear one another down?
CABRERA: In 2016 President Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Michigan by just 10,704 votes. That is about 0.2 of a percentage point. Do you think it will be this close this time around?
SNYDER: I don't believe so. I don't take it for granted, though. That's one reason I’m happy to talk about my support for Joe Biden. But if you put it in context and you go back and look, there are two things that drive an election; one, turnout and, secondly, the undecideds.
In terms of turnout, Hillary Clinton didn't get a huge support in terms of people turning out to vote compared to Donald Trump. That was the difference there in terms of more people in certain parts of Michigan turned out for Trump but turnout was down compared to prior elections for the Democratic candidate.
And in this case, you have undecideds. The undecideds in this case last time gave Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt in many cases because he was an unknown coming into the political world. He's a known and he's a known train wreck. So, we need to get better leadership in this country and show how we can come back together and be a great country again.
CABRERA: So you think Joe Biden will win Michigan?
SNYDER: I do. But I -- again, I’m going to keep working to help assure that as much as possible because I think it is really important and you don't take an election for granted. Until the votes are actually counted and you know the answer, stay on the gas in terms of supporting your candidate.
CABRERA: Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, thanks so much for joining us.
SNYDER: Great to be with you.