Michigan Republican Party Chairman and University of Michigan Board of Regents member Ron Weiser issued an apology of sorts Saturday after he called the three highest-ranking elected female leaders in the state “witches” who should be “ready for the burning at the stake” and referenced “assassination” in the context of ousting GOP congressmen.
The move comes as Weiser scrambles behind the scenes this weekend to tamp down growing outrage over comments he made during a recent speech.
“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 the statement.
“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.”
In addition to the comments he made Thursday about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Weiser brought up the idea of “assassination” in reference to U.S. Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer, two Republican congressmen who voted in favor of impeaching former President Donald Trump.
Despite Weiser’s statement late Saturday, earlier in the day the Michigan Republican Party tweeted, “Dana Nessel should spend less time on her manufactured outrage about an animated local political meeting and more time protecting victims of Larry Nassar.”
Nessel told the Free Press on Saturday a university regent asked her if Weiser could have the attorney general’s private cell phone number.
“A private conversation means absolutely nothing, it’s the public that needs to hear an apology. And it’s the public that needs to hear him walk back these statements of hateful rhetoric that can inspire others into conduct that can be harmful to any of the five of us that he’s talked about,” Nessel said in a phone interview before Weiser issued his statement.
Weiser was also attempting to get private numbers for Whitmer and Benson, sources told the Free Press. Their representatives told the Free Press that Weiser had not reached out directly to either the governor or secretary of state.
He has reached out to university administrators and donors, two sources with knowledge of the calls said. They requested anonymity because they were not cleared to speak with the Free Press.
The private efforts came the same day University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel blasted Weiser for his comments, saying, “It is never appropriate to raise the specter of assassination or perpetuate misogynistic stereotypes.”
Also Saturday, U-M Regent Paul Brown became the fourth board member to call for Weiser to resign.
Weiser tweeted Friday that he could have chosen his words more carefully, but did not apologize then and eschewed calls to resign from the U-M board.
Nessel said she also does not trust Weiser enough for him to have her private number.She already receives many threats, and fears Weiser may later share her contact information.