Truth Squad | Bill Schuette goes low, accusing Whitmer of terror sympathy

Bill Schuette says his Democratic opponents are sympathizing with terrorists. And it’s only early September.

The Michigan Republican Party and GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette have attacked the Democratic team of governor candidate Gretchen Whitmer and lieutenant governor candidate Garlin Gilchrist II, saying the Democratic team wants to abolish ICE and “sympathizes with terrorists.”

Truth Squad rates the claims misleading. It's also worth noting that this issue, which Republicans and their standard-bearer have spent much of the past week cynically pandering to voters on, has little to do with a governor’s job duties or improving Michigan’s future.  

Related: Bill Schuette no longer touts Trump ties, but president’s shadow follows
Related: Turning Gretchen Whitmer into Granholm, a Republican gamble in governor race


The party and Schuette made a series of claims in several ads and press releases recently; those claims were condensed into a 15-second video and accompanying tweet that Schuette sent out Sept. 7.

Schuette says Whitmer and Gilchrist are so extreme they are “opposing immigration enforcement,” “sympathizing with terrorists (and) attacking law enforcement.”

This is a classic example of stringing together the very real statements of their opponents to reach conclusions that both distract and mislead voters.

New Truth Squad rating categories

Truth Squad has reduced the number of rating categories to the following:

  • FAIR: The ad or statement is generally accurate and fairly and credibly presents the speaker’s position on the issue at hand.     
  • MISLEADING: While individual parts of the ad or statement may be accurate, it reaches a conclusion or leaves an impression about an issue or candidate that is misleading in important respects
  • FOUL: The ad or statement contains one or more material factual errors

The ICE claims are based on a 16-second video, taken by a Republican campaign tracker, at a June 30 rally in Lansing protesting family separations along the Mexican border. At the end of the rally, the person recording the video asks Whitmer if ICE should be abolished.

First, Whitmer responds by saying ICE’s family separation actions along the border  were “fundamentally cruel and unconstitutional and undemocratic work.”

When the man behind the camera interrupts her and asks again if ICE should be abolished, Whitmer responds, “Yeah, I think our governor should step up.”

“We should abolish ICE, do you think?” the videographer asks again.

Whitmer nods and walks away.

Next, Republicans unearthed nine-year-old tweets from Gilchrist in which he said he was tired of people “kissing Israel’s ass.” He hoped then-President Obama would put an end to the “‘Israel-can-do-no-wrong’ approach,” and described Hamas as “a legitimately elected party that only rose to power b/c of Israeli aggression & Western complicity/enablement.”

Hamas is a radical Islamic Palestinian nationalist movement founded in 1987 that had long called for the destruction of Israel. Hamas won legislative elections in Palestine in 2006. The U.S. is a strong ally to Israel and deems Hamas a terror group, as do many western nations, citing suicide bombings and mortar attacks that killed hundreds of civilian and military targets in Israel starting in the mid-1990s.

The criticism after Gilchrist’s tweets circulated online last week was furious, and within days Gilchrist released a statement taking it back, saying he had “waded into a complex geopolitical issue and made comments about a conflict I did not fully understand.” Gilchrist now says he supports Israel and calls Hamas a terrorist group.

Whitmer, meanwhile, said in interviews after the 16-second video clip that while “ICE has become the face of the most horrendous, horrific, heartbreaking action that has happened under the Trump administration,” she is not calling for the agency to be disbanded.


While voters are motivated by a host of issues ‒ including perhaps whether their political leaders are antagonistic toward Israel ‒ Truth Squad would like to remind candidates running for state office just how little time they’ll spend in their jobs dealing with tensions in the Middle East. Unless Hamas is putting potholes on I-96 or ICE is causing low third-grade reading scores, there are more important issues for most Michigan voters.

Beyond the question of relevance, though, is the question of fairness. The ad strings together a 16-second video clip that Whitmer quickly walked back, and nine-year-old tweets by Gilchrist that he apologized for, into a suggestion that the Democratic ticket actually sympathizes with terrorists and wants Washington to abandon border security.

Clearly, Whitmer’s hesitant response to her interrogator was not her finest moment on the campaign trail. And it’s worth asking if her campaign fully vetted Gilchrist’s social media history. Both incidents left them open to political attack.   

But it’s now less than 8 weeks before Michigan elects a new governor. And voters might be forgiven for wanting the leading candidates for this office to, at long last, flesh out their plans for improving our public schools, rebuilding our roads and bridges, ensuring our groundwater is clean and our tax bills are reasonable and well spent.

Read Bridge Magazine’s 2018 Michigan Facts & Issues Guide here

Sending out ads with ominous, shadowy photos of your opponents and painting them as terrorist-sympathizing “extremists” may win a few votes in our divisive, hate-fueled political landscape. But they do little to educate voters about the consequential choice they will confront this November. The claims are misleading.   

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Wed, 09/12/2018 - 8:53am

The entire Republican approach to campaigns now is Trump's trademark 'Fear & Hate'. No telling what they will do different just a list of things and people to fear and tax cuts for the wealthiest.
Schuette has good health insurance and ready to take it away from hundred of thousands of Michiganders - and Schuette has no alternative for them (like Trump).

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:04am

Please don't vote for Schuette

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:34am

Why is it only "Fear and Hate" when a conservative brings up things like this? Folks have to be held accountable for THERE OWN WORDS! The real person is not always who they say they are in their political adds! Did you ever consider that the real person may be hiding their real self?

Paul Jordan
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 2:19pm

Yes, that is absolutely why Schuette is distrusted.,

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:57pm

Peering inside the brain with MRI scans, researchers at University College London found that self-described conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety. Liberals had more gray matter at least in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain that helps people cope with complexity.
The conservative party is big on national defense and magnifies our perception of threat, whether of foreign aggressors, immigrants, terrorists, or invading ideologies like Communism. To a conservative, the world really is a frightening place.

In other words that conservative party can understand they run on fear.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 2:42pm

“You’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. ‘People,’ the narrative goes, ‘are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil.’ I don’t buy it.”

I'm sorry, but what were you saying again?

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 3:56pm

What kool-Aid you drinking. It your liberal socialist party that is spreading hate and fear and attacking us conservatives

Daniel Schifko
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:04am

He took his comment back because he got caught.

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:08am

The Schuette campaign is intentionally trying to mislead the public and ignite part of their base. While Whitmer and Gilcrest were naive in their responses, the Schuette campaign is wrong in using what they know is misleading in this way. I expect more from both sides.

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:36am

Why is it misleading when these are their own words??????

Lee Griffin
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:03am

Because they both took back the statements shortly after they were made. Did you read the article?

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 11:42am

Yes, I read it. But you missed my point. My experience (even looking in the mirror at myself) is that the first thing out of ones mouth generally represents the way a person really feels inside. You just can't un-ring that bell by just saying "I didn't mean that" when you are challenged on what you said. And, I do know that it cuts both ways.

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 1:34pm

So if you say a hurtful phrase to your spouse or child out of either anger or frustration it’s said in stone? You can’t have regret or remorse? Wow I fell sorry for you. Is this your Christian way of “forgive and forget”?

David Zeman
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:27am

In part, Larry, because the ad concludes from their statements that Whitmer sympathizes with terrorists when, one, she never even made the statements about Hamas, her running mate did. Second, there is a difference between taking the position (as Gilchrist had) that Hamas' formation was made possible by the actions of Israel at that time, and concluding that Gilchrist (much less Whitmer) "sympathized" with Hamas. Whether or not you agree that Israeli actions were justified or provided the impetus for Hamas, that's a far cry from expressing support for a terrorist group. 

The other misleading conclusion reached by the ad: Taking Whitmer's harsh rebuke of ICE's involvement in separating families arrested at the border and concluding that she opposes any border enforcement. 

So you're right, the Democratic candidates did make the statements you referenced and that did open them up to criticism from those who disagree with their stands, even if they later walked them back. That's politics and, as we said in the Truth Squad, where candidates stand on the Middle East is important to some voters. What Truth Squad took issue with were the conclusions these attack ads reached from their statements, as well as the fact that this controversy seems to have taken center stage in the Schuette campaign when both Schuette and Whitmer have yet to flesh out how they are going to pay for the truly important challenges facing Michigan.    

David Zeman, Bridge Editor 


Wed, 09/12/2018 - 1:30pm

Do you know what “taken out of context means”?

The problem with people like you is that you will believe what any republican spews from their mouth. Try for once to be an “self educated “ voter look past the (R) or (D) for once and vote for a person who represents voters not their own pets agendas!

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:45am

So everything was as said or posted,but it's misleading because you don't like it.

Ruth Stein
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:57am

The image ranks as more than misleading -- that's inflammatory.

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:14am

"Truth Squad would like to remind candidates...just how little time they’ll spend in their jobs dealing with tensions in the Middle East. Unless Hamas is putting potholes on I-96 or ICE is causing low third-grade reading scores, there are more important issues for most Michigan voters." Well said, Bridge! Placing things in perspective is what separates you from most of the Michigan news media, from local newspapers on up to MLive.

John S.
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 11:39am

Voters need to know how often Schuette beats his wife. It would be nice if the candidates told voters what are the important problems that face the State of Michigan and what state government can do about them, if anything.

Burt Vincent
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:02pm

I already commented that I disagree with your rating as misleading. Her offhand remark without polishing through her handlers shows what she truly thinks. I agree it has nothing to do with fixing Michigan’s infrastructure. My question is why is my dissenting opinion not published on this site??? Are you truly non partisan????

sam melvin
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:07pm

Don't we live in Michigan?
don't we have our own elected person?
don't we have our own money to be divide by the State?
Don't we have citizin that work?
don't we have seniors ?
Donot we have clean water/rivers?
donot we have Homeless people?
donot we have homeless vetreans?
don't we have house that are empty?
Don't we have man?women power to rebuild?
don't we have Money coming from washington?
don't we have people and people and more people living in Michigan?
Cause the 2020 census is coming and that means More Money for Michigan?????
OR Not?
Don't we want to be on the Wining END of the StateBudget?
don't we want more Foodstamps?
Don't we want our healthcare FREE?
don't we want to be equal citizin?

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 1:04pm

It's almost as bad as what Joe Scarborough said in his 9-11 op/ed. Not sure I spelled the last name right.

Dave S
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 1:50pm

Mr Schutte ha nothing to run on. The economy of Michigan started to improve when Pres Obama saved the auto industry. That started the Michigan recovery while Republicans ( Mitt Romney ) said let GM go bankrupt. Mr Schutte has been a part of the republican establishment for years. For at least the last 8 years we have had road problems, hi auto insurance rates, attempted obstruction of Medicaid expansion, low minimum wage , attempts to discriminate against gay and LGBT citizens and don’t forget Flint. We’ve had enough of Schutte and the rest of his republican cronies. If all he can do is try to blame Gov Granholm who hasn’t been in office for 8 years. No wonder Gov Snyder isn’t endorsing Schutte.

Tracey Partridge
Thu, 09/13/2018 - 9:29am

Perfectly stated.

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 9:54am

Right on. Schuette never speaks to the real issues Michiganders face. Just fear and hate - that's all he has.

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 10:16am

Obama didn't save the auto industry. He did save the UAW. Ask the salaried GM workers what they think of the lie.

Paul Jordan
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 2:17pm

What is very clear from YEARS (decades?) of evidence is that Schuette is an opportunistic slime monster. He has been craving the governorship for years and, if nothing else rendered him unworthy of that office, his intense ambition for power ought to disqualify him in most people's minds.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 2:20pm

So, this is good then (according to The Bridge)?

The woman who wants to be our next governor nods approvingly when asked about abolishing the agency responsible for protecting us from this trash...and The Bridge calls that misleading?

Regarding Mr. Gilchrist's running of the mouth on Twitter, did anyone on The Bridge staff even bother to look at a calendar to see what yesterday's date was?

Hint: do a keyword search on any or all of the following: Shanksville, WTC, The Pentagon.

The locals didn't think that it could happen there either.

M Hill
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 2:55pm

Bill Schuette and the Republican party have nothing positive to offer the working people of Michigan. They have done everything they could to undermine voting rights, quality public school education and a clean Michigan environment. Tax cuts for corporations have done nothing to bring good jobs to Michigan.

Sue Harvey
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 3:56pm

In fact some companies pass on Michigan b/c of educational deficits of potential employees. Our roads and transit conditions give them pause also. Trucking survey puts our roads at the bottom of list. So to attract they demand and get tax breaks. Forget the global..No governor ever solved world peace. And your more likely to be shot, robbed by a local kid
Schutte is lagging in polls..if this is all he's got he might as well concede now

Don Cohen
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 3:41pm

You write, "Hamas is a radical Islamic Palestinian nationalist movement founded in 1987 that had long called for the destruction of Israel."
The word "had," as if it is all in the past, is misleading and wrong. The correct word would be "has" since Hamas has not changed it's policy of calling for the destruction of Israel and continues attacks on Israeli civilians and others. But, also note Hamas has not just killed Israelis: The Palestinian Authority condemns Hamas for its killing and terrorizing Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere. In fact, they will not reconcile with them though much of the the international community is ready to reward them if they would.
Was Gilchrist uniformed when he made his statement years ago? Most likely. Has he recanted? Yes. Is he sincere? You decide.

Tracey Partridge
Thu, 09/13/2018 - 9:26am

Scheutte doe not know what else to except to use false statements about others to deflect from his in bad history in our state. Vote for Gretchen and others and get these GOP debacles out of our offices.

Tom Campbell
Fri, 09/14/2018 - 8:04am

On another issue, Truth Squad should lay out the facts about the temporary state income tax increase in '07 and the later decision to make it permanent. The man who would be governor has made it a central argument against Ms. Whitmer, but Republicans controlled the Michigan Legislature when both actions were taken. The more recent was done to free up money to help fund a $1.5 billion tax cut for state businesses.

Richard Cole
Fri, 09/14/2018 - 3:34pm

Schuette should be ashamed, but then that seems like it would impossible given everything else he has to be ashamed about.

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 9:39am

Schuette has been a tool of the Republican Party who have controlled Michigan for the last 8 years. Being in control means they collectively brought about many negative changes in Michigan that we will have to live with until new people more responsible to citizenry true needs reverse the tide of selfishness and a singular viewpoint that strongly supports business rather than the people of Michigan. Get out and vote People - its the only way good change can result.

Geoffrey Owen
Sun, 09/16/2018 - 8:45pm

When there is no longer a republican party, or when they morph back into something civil, I for one will rejoice.