Michigan state GOP Chairman Ron Weiser took it all the way back to the 17th century when he made a remark about the assassination of Michigan’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state — all of whom are women. Weiser called the women “witches… ready for the burning at the stake.”
“I want to make sure we have the opportunity to take out those three witches in three years from now,” Weiser said to laughter from the crowd during remarks made at the March meeting of the North Oakland Republican Club on Thursday.
The women he is calling “witches” are Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Last year, Whitmer was the target of a foiled kidnapping or assassination plot by far-right extremists.
“Our job now is to soften up those three witches and make sure that we have good candidates to run against them, that they are ready for the burning at the stake,” Weiser said later in the speech.
The Detroit News first surfaced video of the remarks, and on Friday, Weiser issued a tweet saying he wishes he had “chosen [his] words more carefully,” but he did not apologize for what he said. Instead, he said that his words were “clearly being taken out of context.” They are not taken out of context.
Responding to a question from a woman in the crowd about ousting “witches in our own party” – Republicans like Reps. Peter Meijer and Fred Upton, who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump – Weiser said, “That’s up to the voters,” and later threw in a joke about assassination. “Ma’am, other than assassination, I have no other way other than voting out,” Weiser said. “You people have to go out there and support their opponents. You have to do what you need to get out the vote in those areas. That’s how you beat people.”
Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes released a statement in response to Weiser’s comments and called for Weiser to resign from his position on the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents. “Republicans in Michigan have used our state as a breeding ground for national extremism. Last year, militias plotted to kill and kidnap the governor, which was a dress rehearsal for the January 6 storming of our nation’s Capitol,” she said. “Instead of seeing that as a wake-up call that the violent rhetoric needs to stop, those in positions of power like Ron Weiser continue to embolden the fringes at all costs… His statements are not only sexist but markedly dangerous… We call on him to resign immediately.”
.@MIGOP Chair Ron Weiser’s comments don’t reflect the values of the @UMich’s Board of Regents, faculty, and student body. His statements are not only sexist, but markedly dangerous and will only serve to damage the institution’s reputation. We call on him to resign immediately. pic.twitter.com/MgK2EB4VIP
— Michigan Democrats (@MichiganDems) March 26, 2021
On Saturday, Weiser did issue an apology “to those [he] offended” but not specifically to the women he advocated violence against. In a statement to the Hill, Weiser said, “I fell short of that the other night. 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.”