Two days after receiving former President Donald J. Trump’s endorsement in the Michigan governor’s race, Tudor Dixon would not say whether she still believes that Mr. Trump won the 2020 election.
Ms. Dixon, a media personality who has gained momentum in the chaotic Republican primary race, was unequivocal in her belief in Mr. Trump’s disproved claims of victory as recently as May, but sidestepped the question during an appearance on Fox News on Sunday.
She avoided saying who won the race and instead criticized Michigan’s top election official, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who is secretary of state, for her oversight of the election.
“Yes or no, do you believe Donald Trump legitimately won the 2020 election in Michigan?” one of the debate’s moderators asked Ms. Dixon. Her answer was succinct: “Yes,” she said.
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Ms. Dixon’s opponents in the five-way Republican primary quickly accused her of flip-flopping. “That’s a land-speed record for betraying President Trump, even by establishment politician standards,” one hopeful, Kevin Rinke, wrote on Twitter.
Ms. Dixon’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday about whether she had changed her position. But James Blair, a chief strategist for her campaign, told The Detroit Free Press that the criticism of Ms. Dixon was “sour grapes.” and said it would not “change her commitment to election integrity or the support she earned from President Trump.”
Ms. Dixon has swung from full-throat claims of fraud to more subtle positions before. In a response to Mr. Trump on Twitter five days after the 2020 election, she said, according to The Free Press, “Steal an election then hide behind calls for unity and leftists lap it up.” But at other times since joining the race, she has suggested only that election procedures created the opportunity for fraud.
“We have to make sure our elections are secure and what happened in 2020 doesn’t happen again,” Ms. Dixon said on Fox News. “It was obviously a different election. We had Covid going on. There was the opportunity for changes to be made. This secretary of state made those changes, sending out absentee ballot applications to everyone in the state, bringing in Zuckerbucks, reducing the signature match.”
State officials have noted that all jurisdictions in Michigan, regardless of whether they were in Democratic or Republican-leaning areas, could have applied for the private election funds — a process that did not involve the Department of State.
Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of State, the agency headed by Ms. Benson, said that Ms. Dixon was spreading falsehoods about the election, including claims that voter identification requirements had been relaxed.
“Election deniers and conspiracy theorists have made it abundantly clear they are not interested in facts and truth, but instead continue to trot out the same debunked talking points over and over again,” Ms. Wimmer said.
She added that courts and “hundreds of bipartisan audits” had affirmed the integrity of the 2020 election.
Ms. Dixon has gained momentum with Mr. Trump’s endorsement and the backing of the powerful DeVos family, including Betsy DeVos, a former education secretary for Mr. Trump who broke with him after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Mr. Trump is scheduled to speak during a telephone town hall event for Ms. Dixon on Monday night.