Pence touts Barrett, James at Oakland County stop

Vice President Mike Pence at President Donald Trump's Battle Creek rally, Dec. 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Vice President Mike Pence made a stop in Oakland County Thursday afternoon to stump for President Donald Trump 12 days before the general election.

Pence touted Trump’s economic policies, support for law enforcement, his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and gave a number of nods to GOP U.S. Senate nominee John James during his hour-long speech in Waterford. 

“The road to victory runs right through Michigan,” Pence said. 

This was just one of many Michigan visits from both the campaigns of Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in recent weeks. Pence stumped in Grand Rapids last week. Michigan is once again a battleground state for the upcoming Nov. 3 general election. 

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Trump held a rally in Muskegon County on Saturday; his daughter, Ivanka Trump, visited rural Kent County on Monday; and his son, Eric Trump, was in Lansing on Tuesday. Biden was in Detroit and Southfield on Friday, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg made campaign stops for Biden around Grand Rapids on Monday, and Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, visited Pontiac and Detroit on Tuesday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday she is launching a four-day bus tour around Michigan for Biden that begins Friday. 

During his speech, Pence called on Biden to “give a straight answer” on whether or not he plans to add more justices to the Supreme Court if he gets elected. Biden said Thursday that he plans, if elected, to convene a special commission on court reforms.

“I mean, come on, man,” Pence said, quoting one of Biden’s famous lines. “The American people deserve a straight answer, Joe.”

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Pence also said that the Senate will vote Monday whether or not to confirm Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve her nomination Thursday.

Pence didn’t focus much of his speech on the COVID-19 pandemic, but did say that Trump’s “early actions,” including suspending travel from China, “saved lives.” 

“I can tell you, having led the [White House] coronavirus task force over the last eight months, President Trump’s actions … saved untold American lives and bought us invaluable time to stand up the largest national mobilization since World War II,” Pence said. 

The U.S. has faced 8.3 million COVID-19 cases and 222,577 deaths since the virus was first reported in the country. In Michigan, as of Wednesday, there have been 150,989 COVID-19 cases and 7,086 deaths.

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Pence also urged Michigan voters to elect James, a businessman from Farmington Hills, who is running against incumbent U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.).

Pence pushed for opening schools, even though the GOP Legislature passed a plan giving K-12 districts flexibility this school year, and also gave credit to Trump for bringing back Big 10 football, which begins this weekend. 

Michigan State University went remote this fall for undergraduates and as of Tuesday, University of Michigan undergraduate students are under a two-week stay home order issued by the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Trump and Biden are slated to go head-to-head in the second and last 2020 presidential debate Thursday night.