Transcript: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on "Face the Nation," October 11, 2020

Whitmer: Extremists "finding comfort" in GOP leaders' rhetoric
Whitmer: Extremists "finding comfort" in GOP ... 06:35

The following is a transcript of an interview with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer that aired Sunday, October 11, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, do you know if this security threat is over? Do you feel safe?

GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: Good morning. I have always felt safe, I am protected by the Michigan State Police, and they are an incredibly professional organization. But, I do believe that there are still serious threats that groups like this group, these domestic terrorists, are finding comfort and support in the rhetoric coming out of Republican leadership from the White House to our state House. And so I remain concerned about safety and integrity going up to this election.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get into integrity in a- in a moment. But just to button this up, so three of the men that were arrested as co-conspirators in part of this plot were also involved back in the Spring in April with storming the Michigan Capitol with guns at the time. Governor, these are your constituents. How do you, in your state, unify things? I know you're talking about the president and rhetoric, but what do you do to deal with this?

GOV. WHITMER: So, you know, the center of all the work that we've been doing around COVID is trying to save lives. Whether people support me politically, or they supported my opponent in the last election,my job as governor is to make sure that Michigan is a place where we are saving lives, we are following the science, we get our economy back on track. We have saved thousands of lives, studies have shown, by the actions that I took. We also have re-engaged our economy. We're one of the ten top economic resurgences in the nation because of that work--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know that Michigan Supreme Court has just--

GOV. WHITMER: We cannot separate--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --tried to limit the powers that you use to do some of these things, like mask mandates. So now in order to do further things, you have to work with Republicans. Clearly, there are some deep, deep divisions in your state. How- can you work with them? With the Republican controlled legislature?

GOV. WHITMER: Absolutely. You know, I was raised in a household with a Republican parent and a Democratic parent. But the fact of the matter is we have to find common ground. And I think that's what's so important in this election. You know, Joe Biden is the kind of guy who is deeply decent, and has been known for collaborating and putting the interests of the public first. Donald Trump has been incredibly divisive and downright dangerous, whether it's COVID or it is the rhetoric coming out of the White House. We have an important choice to make in the next few weeks. There are decent human beings on both sides of the aisle, but we need a leader who can bring them together. And that's why I'm excited about Joe Biden.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard me ask the chairwoman about whether it's a Republican strategy to try to limit access to the vote because of all the litigation. She said it's Democrats who have litigation trying to essentially skew the vote. In your state there- which is going to be so key and votes are going to be closely watched, your secretary of state has said they will not be able to report the results of the election Nov. 3rd. How long do you think it will take to know what the vote in Michigan was in a definitive way?

GOV. WHITMER: Well I'll start with this. Jocelyn Benson, our Secretary of State, is a national expert when it comes to election law. She has said we are going to get every vote counted, and we're going to keep people safe as they go to vote. We're working closely with our Attorney General, Dana Nessel, who has been a fierce advocate of protecting people's right to vote. And we're all working in a coordinated fashion. Michigan will be able to announce results, but we are not going to have artificial deadlines set by, you know, people with political agendas. We're going to get this right. It will be soon after polls closed. I'm not going to put a number on it, but we're going to get it right. And I want to remind Michiganders, you can vote today.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

GOV. WHITMER: You can go into your clerk's office and cast your vote today. So every day between now and Nov. 3rd in Michigan is Election Day. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

GOV. WHITMER: And the more people that vote earlier, the more likely you'll be safe and get counted.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, well, the law right now says if it's postmarked by November 3rd, as long as it arrives by Nov. 17th, it'll count. And- and Republicans have objected to that length of time. But on the question of poll monitoring, in our poll at CBS News in our Battleground Tracker, we found that half of the president's voters in Michigan think the president should encourage his supporters to go stand near polling placers as- places as watchers. Do you think this is going to be a problem in Michigan?

GOV. WHITMER: Here's what I can say, we are prepared. We are prepared to make sure that this election goes smoothly. We're going to keep people safe as they go to the polls. And we will not tolerate anyone who's trying to interfere with someone's ability to safely vote. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic, which is why we're really encouraging people to avail themselves of the ability to vote absentee and drop off their ballots--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you worried--

GOV WHITMER: --or to pop into a clerk's office.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Given what just happened to you this week, Governor, are you worried about violence on Election Day or around it?

GOV. WHITMER: I'm not worried, but we are preparing to make sure that we do everything to keep people safe. And I've got incredible confidence. I know that the people of Michigan want to vote. We see how high the stakes are in this election. We're going to have historic turnout, and we're going to do it right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are a surrogate for Joe Biden. Yesterday at an event in Pennsylvania, he seemed to question the integrity of the vote. He said the only way we lose this is by the chicanery going on relative to polling places. He later clarified. He said he'd accept the election results. But it is the Biden campaign accusing the Trump campaign and the RNC of trying to intimidate voters. Is that what he's saying?

GOV. WHITMER: You know what, I think that a reasonable person could draw the conclusion that the efforts to undermine the Postal Service, to undermine mail-in balloting, the efforts to claim that if you don't have a result at the moment the polls close that it's- that it's not legitimate, all of those are efforts to undermine people's confidence in this election. And I think that's what Joe Biden was trying to communicate. You know, sometimes it's- we have to issue clarifications. But the fact of the matter is, every vote's going to get counted. We've never had an issue, a significant issue with fraud via mail-in balloting. And that's why the president himself avails him of it regularly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But to be clear, the integrity of the vote in Michigan is something that you stand by, and that is not something that Joe Biden is questioning? Is that what you're saying? 

GOV. WHITMER: Correct. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, Governor, thank you very much for your time. We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.