Ron Weiser Refuses to Resign as Criticism of 'Horrifically Reckless' Comments Mounts

After calling three of Michigan's highest-ranking elected female officials "witches," state Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser is refusing to resign from a board position at the University of Michigan, saying his words were "taken out of context."

"I will not be resigning from the University of Michigan, and our focus at the Michigan Republican Party remains the same —winning in 2022," Weiser, who sits on the board of regents at the university, posted on Twitter Friday.

Wesier's defense comes after backlash to language he used at a meeting for the North Oakland Republican Club about winning in 2022, when he said: "Our job now is to soften up those three witches and have good candidates against them, be ready for the burning at the stake."

In a statement, MIGOP chairman Ron Weiser says he "should have chosen my words more carefully" while repeatedly attacking the media and "leftists."

He says he's not resigning from the University of Michigan board of regents

— Dave Boucher (@Dave_Boucher1) March 26, 2021

By "those three witches," Weiser referenced Michigan's top female elected officials: Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. The GOP chairman's words come after escalating threats of violence against Whitmer, as several individuals were reportedly arrested for plotting to kidnap the governor. Whitmer's administration has also faced allegations of voter fraud after President Joe Biden won the state in the 2020 general election.

According to a Facebook video of the meeting cited by the Detroit Free Press, Weiser went on to use threatening words to answer a question about what steps the GOP should take regarding Michigan Representatives Peter Meijer and Fred Upton, two Republican congressional members who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.

"Ma'am other than assassination, I have no other way other than voting," Weiser said. "You people have to get out there and support their opponents. You have to get people out to vote in those areas. That's how you beat people."

I want to thank my friends and supporters who sent me thoughtful feedback today. I made some comments that are clearly being taken out of context. While I should have chosen my words more carefully, anyone who knows me understands I would never advocate for violence. (1/3)

— Ron Weiser (@RonaldWeiser) March 26, 2021

Weiser, who has donated more than $100 million to the University of Michigan, defended his actions via Twitter on Friday.

"I made some comments that are clearly being taken out of context," he wrote. "While I should have chosen my words more carefully, anyone who knows me understands I would never advocate for violence. I've spoken with Rep(s) Upton and Meijer personally. My off-the-cuff comments received more scrutiny from the media and leftists in the last 24 hours than the governor's handling of COVID, the deaths she caused in nursing homes and unemployment issues impacting too many hard-working Michiganders to this day."

A Benson spokesperson called Weiser's language "horrifically reckless and unconscionable," and pressure has been mounting since Weiser's refusal to resign. Both Whitmer and Nessel also responded to Weiser's statement.

"Witches who magically decrease Covid spread, increase voter turnout and hold sexual predators accountable without any help from the legislature? Sign me up for that coven. Do better, Michigan GOP," Nessel wrote in a Twitter post.

Whitmer posted to twitter a quote from a book that read: "For a long time, a certain set of man have called women like me 'witches' to silence and discredit us."

Speaking of witches, I highly recommend this book!
"For a long time, a certain set of men have called women like me 'witches' to silence and discredit us.” - Lindy West

— Gretchen Whitmer (@gretchenwhitmer) March 26, 2021

The university board of regents are elected on a statewide ballot and serve eight-year terms, a University of Michigan spokesperson said in an email to Newsweek. The spokesperson provided Newsweek with a copy of a statement by Denise Ilitch, chair of the university's board of regents, in which she considers Weiser's "repugnant language" to be "distributing."

"His use of violent imagery crosses a line that is inconsistent with what should be our shared values," Ilitch said. "There should be no place for physical threats by elected or political leaders on our board or in our state."

University board member Jordan Acker said that Weiser's words were "gross misogynistic terms," FOX 2 reported.

"For Ron Weiser to speak in this kind of language, knowing that these men were hunted by Trump supporters in the Capitol just two months ago, it's beneath him as a party chair, it's beneath him as a regent of the University of Michigan," Acker said.

Another board member, Mark Bernstein, said Weiser's words were "blatantly sexist" and his resignation should not be a question of partisanship.

"Our job as regents is to be responsible stewards of the University of Michigan," Bernstein said. "In doing so we must protect democracy, honor public service and support our students. Regent Weiser has failed to do so. Our University and the people of this state deserve better. He should resign."

Just sent to Dr. Schlissel @DrMarkSchlissel as well as the other Regents.

— Jeff Scott (@JeffScottMusic) March 26, 2021

Calls for Weiser to step down came from outside politics and academics, too. Michigan musician Jeff Scott, a 1982 graduation of the university, tweeted a statement he sent to Dr. Mark Schlissel, a board member, calling for the "immediate removal" of Weiser from the board. Scott called Weiser's words the "opposite" of Michigan's administration and the university, and he implored the board to act against Weiser's "ignorant" comments.

"How much impact with the University and its image endure from Weiser for another $100 million?"

Updated 11:48 AM ET, to include comment from the University of Michigan.

Gretchen Whitmer
State GOP Chairman Ron Weiser is refusing calls to resign from fellow members of the University of Michigan's board of regents after he calls Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other top-ranking female elected officials "witches." Whitmer speaks during a drive-in campaign rally with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama at Belle Isle on October 31, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Drew Angerer/Getty Images