Pence pledges to ‘make America great again, again’ in Traverse City

Vice President Mike Pence in Saginaw, Dec. 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Vice President Mike Pence made his pitch to Michigan voters during a brief campaign rally in Traverse City on Friday, promising to “make America great again, again” if given four more years in the White House.

Pence argued that the 2020 election will determine who is responsible for helping the economy recover from the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ask yourself: Who do you trust to rebuild this economy over the next four years? A career politician who presided over the slowest recovery from a recession since the Great Depression?” Pence asked. “Or do you trust a proven leader who created jobs at a record pace across America and will do it again?”

“Last week, Joe Biden said that democracy was on the ballot,” Pence continued. “The truth is, our economic recovery is on the ballot.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden in Detroit, March 9, 2020 | Andrew Roth

Kate Bedingfield, communications director for former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, noted that Biden helped bailout the auto industry.

“The truth is Trump and Pence have never had Michigan’s interests in mind. From Pence forcefully opposing the auto rescue in 2008, to the empty promises he and Trump made to steelworkers in 2016, to the massive job losses they’ve overseen in 2020, they haven’t had the backs of Michigan workers – and no amount of lip service will change that fact,” Bedingfield said. “Michiganders know that Joe Biden helped rescue the auto industry, that he has a plan to get the virus under control, and that he will help create millions of manufacturing and innovation jobs.”

Pence also falsely claimed that Biden wants to defund the police and said that Trump will stand with both law enforcement and Black families.

“We don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with our African American families,” Pence said. “We have done both, we will continue to do both.”

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Pence criticized Biden for not addressing violent protests during his Democratic National Convention address and said that a continued Trump administration would address the violence currently playing out under the existing Trump administration.

“Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down,” Pence said. “We will have law and order on the streets of our cities for every American of every race and creed and color.”

Pence took it a step further during his speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, claiming that “you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

However, Biden responded in a statement Thursday, saying there is “no place for violence, looting or burning. None. Zero.”

“These are not images from some imagined ‘Joe Biden’s America’ in the future. These are images are from Donald Trump’s America today,” Biden continued. “The violence we’re witnessing is happening under Donald Trump. Not me.”

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Pence touted the endorsement of six Democratic mayors in Minnesota, where he campaigned earlier in the day.

Pence said the mayors endorsed Trump over Biden because “Joe Biden claims he’s an ally of the light, but when it comes to his agenda, he wants to keep us completely in the dark.”

Republicans, for their part, chose not to adopt a new platform at their convention this week beyond expressing support for Trump.

In Michigan, the Republican mayor of Sterling Heights, Michael Taylor, today endorsed U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) for re-election over John James.

Pence’s visit to Michigan came on the same day the state topped 100,000 cases of COVID-19. Almost 6,500 people have died. There are 5.9 million confirmed cases in the United States and about 182,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins University tracking.

Michigan tops 100K COVID-19 cases

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes noted Michigan’s cases and said it was a result of failed federal leadership.

“Reaching this horrific milestone is a damning indictment of Donald Trump’s failed response to COVID-19. For months, this chaotic president ignored warnings, failed to provide necessary PPE, downplayed the deadly threats to Michiganders, and berated local leaders who dared to act when he refused,” Barnes said. “With real leadership in the White House, we could have contained this virus, saved countless lives, put our students back in school, and Michiganders back to work.”

The rally, which was held outdoors at an airport, was attended by about 400 people.

Outdoor gatherings are not supposed to exceed 250 people in the region of the state Traverse City falls in, under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

After speaking in light rain for about 35 minutes, Pence joked that he left Michigan “a little more damp but a lot more confident.”