Michigan Republican Chairman Ron Weiser has apologized for comments calling the three highest-ranking elected female leaders in the state “witches” who should be “ready for the burning at the stake.”
The comments Weiser made during an event Thursday in Oakland County about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson came in addition to others raising the idea of “assassination” in reference to U.S. Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer, two Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching former President Donald Trump.
“In an increasingly vitriolic political environment, we should all do better to treat each other with respect, myself included. I fell short of that the other night,” Weiser said in a statement Saturday.
“I apologize to those I offended for the flippant analogy about three women who are elected officials and for the off-hand comments about two other leaders. I have never advocated for violence and never will. While I will always fight for the people and policies I believe in, I pledge to be part of a respectful political dialogue going forward,” Weiser said.
Whitmer spokesman Bobby Leddy said while Weiser “had an opportunity to retract his remarks and publicly apologize, he instead doubled down on the same repulsive and divisive rhetoric that so many Michiganders are tired of hearing.”
Jake Rollow, a spokesman for Benson, said “the people of Michigan deserve more than a half-apology when the leader of one of our two major political parties suggests violence over democracy.”
Weiser also holds an elected seat on the University of Michigan Board of Regents. School President Mark Schlissel released a statement saying Weiser’s set of remarks “does not represent the values or beliefs of the University of Michigan. I condemn any suggestion of violence against a duly elected state or federal official.”
“Such words are particularly abhorrent in a climate where so recently the use of language has engendered violence and attempted violence directed at elected officials, our democratic institutions, and the individuals who guard them. It is never appropriate to raise the specter of assassination or perpetuate misogynistic stereotypes against anyone in any setting. Elected officials must adhere to a higher standard regardless of the context of their remarks,” Schlissel said.
Four members of the board have called on Weiser to resign from the body, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Members of the Board of Regents are elected by Michigan voters on a statewide ballot.