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Gretchen Whitmer says Charlie Baker called her after news of alleged kidnapping plot to ‘check in on’ her

Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan
Governor Gretchen Whitmer of MichiganAssociated Press

After news broke that a group had allegedly hatched a plot to kidnap her, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said she received well wishes from prominent officials, among them Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Also on the Michigan Democrat’s call log: Governor Charlie Baker.

Whitmer, speaking in a CNN appearance Thursday night, specifically said Baker was among those who reached out to her, holding the Republican governor up as a contrast to President Trump, with whom she has feuded, including after Thursday’s news of the criminal charges surfaced.

“I’d like to acknowledge Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts, who called to check in on me,” Whitmer told host Erin Burnett. “That’s what decent people do. That’s what good American leaders do.”

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Governor Charlie Baker
Governor Charlie BakerStuart Cahill

Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Whitmer, said Friday that the two governors spoke for about five to 10 minutes. She said Whitmer highlighted the call on national television because “it’s about human decency, not politics.”

“They don’t know one another well, but it was incredibly thoughtful and she was grateful for the call,” Brown said. “[Baker] and his family also have had to deal with some ugliness. Many governors have.”

Asked to what she was referring, Brown did not specify but added: “In general, I think the point is as a sitting governor, he understands the challenges of leading during this unprecedented time.”

Lizzy Guyton, a Baker spokeswoman, confirmed the call Friday, saying that Baker reached out to offer support. “He expressed his relief that everyone was safe and unharmed in light of the disturbing news,” Guyton said.

Baker and Whitmer, both of whom sit on the executive committee of the National Governors Association, have similarly weathered criticisms for imposing tight restrictions on daily life in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19 in their hard-hit states. And details of the alleged plan — which officials said included surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation home and suggestions of shooting her at her door — distressed Republicans and Democrats alike.

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But her comments also underscore the political divide, and the appearance of it around the country, that has formed between Baker and Trump, whom Massachusetts’ governor has repeatedly criticized amid the pandemic and said he isn’t voting for in November.

Trump criticized Whitmer in a Thursday night tweet, saying she has done a “terrible job” and claiming she did not say “thank you.”

The governor did thank law enforcement for stopping the alleged plot, and also slammed Trump for comments he made during his first debate with Biden, when he told a far-right group to “stand back and stand by.”

“Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke but as a rallying cry, as a call to action,” Whitmer said.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police said it is not aware of any threats against any Massachusetts officials, including Baker, “related to alleged militia-related activity.”


Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.