Former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Who Once Shunned Trump, Now Defends Him

Former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley says it’s not fair to call the president bigoted and that he does not remember the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Va.

In 2016, then-candidate for Governor Brian Calley had strong words of denunciation for then-candidate Donald Trump.

“I don’t use the word bigot in the same way that you do to try and assign these things to people.” – Brian Calley, former Lt. Gov.

“The latest revelations about Donald Trump and his past make it impossible for me to maintain support of him,” said Calley at the time, shortly after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tapes surfaced, in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women.

Today, Calley is a Trump supporter.

Click on the player above to hear former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley talk about his support for President Trump.

Courtesy of Dan Gottlieb
Courtesy of Dan Gottlieb

Calley cites a number of reasons to support Trump, including the renegotiated trade agreement between North American countries, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“The trade agreement that was just signed is the best trade agreement, literally, in the history of America for small business,” said the former lieutenant governor under Rick Snyder who is now president of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

On Detroit Today, host Stephen Henderson pressed Calley to answer for Trump’s “bigoted policies.”

Here’s the exchange, which starts around the 2:20 minute mark:

Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today: Isn’t it imperative for GOP leaders like yourself to stand up and say it’s not OK? It’s not OK the things that he says and does about these other things. Leadership requires that we have a president that does not behave this way.

Brian Calley, former Lt. Gov.: I don’t use the word bigot in the same way that you do to try and assign these things to people.

Henderson: You think he’s not a bigot?

Calley: I don’t. No. I understand that he’s very controversial, and this back-and-forth on how he says things, and how brash and New York City he is, I get that, and how people get offended, and it’s not my style. But no, I don’t think it’s fair to use that word to describe him. 

Henderson: Do you think the policies he’s embraced reflect bigotry? Let’s go back to what happened in Virginia after a Klan rally, where he says there were good people on both sides. That’s not an embrace of bigotry, or turning away from calling out bigotry?

Calley: I’m not familiar with a Klan rally in Virginia. 

Henderson: You don’t remember that? 

Calley: I don’t, no. I don’t keep up much with what’s happening in Virginia. Here’s what I’ve noticed. It seems like the reaction to everything he says, people view it in a way that is so through a lens where you just assume the worst. I got to tell you Stephen, if people assume the worst about you, or the worst about me, and then assume the best about themselves, I guess that’s how we get to where we’re at today. I’m a big fan of giving people the benefit of the doubt. And forgiving people when they do things wrong. That’s the basis of the way that I’m built.

Henderson: But the policies. The immigration policies. Banning immigrants from countries that just happen to be majority Muslim, and not other countries. The policies at the Southern border. Those things don’t matter as much to you as much as the good things maybe he’s done for small business.

Calley: I don’t agree with everything the President’s done. I’m saying he is the best option on the table. 

Support the news you love.

Here at WDET, we strive to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a non-profit public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. Because you value WDET as your source of news, music, and conversation, please make a gift of support today. Even $5 helps!

Donate today »


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.