Top Takeaways: James Craig Stumbled Through First Press Conference Since May, Dodged Local Reporter Questions on Key Issues

LANSING — Following yesterday’s stunt of forcing local reporters to watch him without sound through a glass wall which earned him a significant amount of blowback while his event was still taking place, James Craig scrambled to save his press conference. 

However, all it did was reinforce his refusal to answer direct questions that aren’t coming from a friendly national cable show or publication.

Peppered with direct questions from local reporters that haven’t had access to him in months, Craig once again provided either vague answers or bizarre optics on the purity issues that already define his primary as reflected in the coverage below:

On whether he considers the electoral process legitimate and if the results of 2020 are incorrect

Detroit News: Asked if he believed the election was stolen from Trump, Craig said he didn’t have information on whether there was evidence to back up the assertions. “I am a cop. … If there was evidence, if there was a proper investigation that the election was stolen … I don’t have that information,” the former police chief said.

MLive: The former police chief said he hasn’t seen information proving the 2020 election was stolen, as suggested by Trump and some Republicans who could run alongside Craig on the 2022 ballot. Craig offered a vague answer when asked whether he believes the election outcome was determined by fraud.

Detroit Free Press: Former Detroit Police Chief and potential GOP gubernatorial candidate James Craig declined to say Monday whether he believes false claims by former President Donald Trump that the 2020 presidential election was rife with fraud. 

Asked whether he believes Trump’s unfounded claim that the election was stolen, Craig said, “If there was evidence, if there was a proper investigation that the election was stolen,” before trailing off and then stating, “I don’t have that information.” 

On who or what is to blame for the deadly January 6th insurrection

Detroit Free Press: While Craig spoke out against the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, he declined to say whether Trump bears any responsibility for the violence that was followed by the death of some law enforcement officers. 

WXYZ: Craig stopped taking questions when asked if he needs to take a position on the election and Trump’s involvement on January 6th to get Trump’s endorsement.

James Craig: “I don’t know how plainly I can say it to you. The fact is this: I talked about January 9th [sic] and I talked about all the issues and that’s important for me to talk. So at this point, I will conclude.”

On how closely he plans to align himself with Trump

Detroit News: Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig…says he would accept Donald Trump’s endorsement if offered but he wants to be defined as himself, not the former president. […] “If the president gives me his endorsement, I’ll accept it,” Craig told reporters. “But I want to be defined as James Craig, not Donald Trump. I am looking ahead to 2022.”

On flip-flopping his support for public health protocols

Detroit Free Press: Craig has been an outspoken critic of Whitmer’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking in Grand Rapids in July, Craig blasted Whitmer for closing Michigan schools during the pandemic. Asked about his department’s own enforcement of Whitmer’s mask mandate during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, Craig said, “I’m a rule follower.” 

On being transparent with local reporters

Detroit News: Reporters sat outside the meeting room and could watch but weren’t able to hear the discussion. The Michigan Democratic Party said in a statement that Craig had shown a “brazen disregard for local press.” Asked about the closed-off talks, Craig said he’s for transparency. “There’s no secrets in that room,” he said.

MLive: Members of the press, corralled behind a glass wall, were allowed a look inside but denied the opportunity to listen in. […] Craig said closing the meeting to reporters shouldn’t reflect on his commitment to transparency.

WXYZ: It was held at a conference table with a few members connected via Zoom, but the meeting was closed to the media. Cameras and reporters watched through a plate glass wall.

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