JACKSON, Mich. (FOX 2) - A big round of applause greeted retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig as he gave his first-ever political speech in Jackson, Michigan. Craig spoke for 25 minutes, but did not reveal any future plans for political office.
"Today we celebrate the 167th anniversary of the founding of the Republican Party," he said.
The Detroit-native said he wasn't always a Republican, adding that it was an evolution.
"Just like most African-Americans growing up in Detroit, I was automatically considered a Democrat," he said. "You were born a Democrat. But over time as you had your own life experiences, an opportunity to form your own world views, you come to your own conclusions."
Craig said a turning point for him was when he was working as a police officer in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots and Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters questioned why an African-American would choose to work for the department.
He found his values began to align with the republican party.
"I am pro-life," Craig said. "I support the Second Amendment. I will defend our police, not defund it. We know that handouts increase dependency on government and only for the purpose of political gain.
"I will never back down to liberal woke-ism."
As for recent elections, Craig was not shy about who got his vote.
"Privately, I found that my life experiences were leading me to vote Republican. including for President Trump in both elections," he said.
While craig spoke to a crowd of supporters -- not everyone liked what the former police chief had to say, and Craig quickly went back into chief mode.
"Trump traitor" someone yelled.
"Let me just say this, I respect the right to free speech - now you respect me," Craig fired back.
Afterward, the Michigan Democratic Party released a statement on Craig's "dress rehearsal."
"As expected, James Craig just spoke for a half-hour without disclosing much more about where he stands on the issues, trying to have it both ways embracing Trump while once again refusing to condemn the Big Lie. This was a total thumb-on-the-scale event featuring heaps of establishment praise from MIGOP co-chairs Ron Weiser and Meshawn Maddock, Senator Mike Shirkey, and other local Republican electeds to see if their cherry-picked candidate can land the lines he’s told to deliver in what’s already looking like a rigged primary for those that have actually launched their campaigns."