Vice President Mike Pence says, "It's on!” — the 2020 election campaign pitting President Donald Trump and Pence against the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Pence spoke at a factory in Walworth County on Wednesday and said Republican policies are helping the Wisconsin economy. Democrats are quick to disagree.
The Trump team has been campaigning in Wisconsin this week, while the Democratic National Convention has largely abandoned Milwaukee due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. In the village of Darien Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence continued to insist showing up in the state matters.
"I did hear the Democrats were supposed to have their convention in Wisconsin, but they couldn't make it. Of course, that's really nothing new. I heard on the way here that Joe Biden hasn't actually been to Wisconsin in 659 days,” Pence said.
Pence also referred to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton skipping Wisconsin during the 2016 general election campaign.
Pence spoke indoors at the Tankcraft Corporation, which makes fuel tanks for trucks, and other metal parts. The vice president says the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that was approved this year will help the Walworth County company.
"The USMCA preserves manufacturing companies like Tankcraft's duty-free access to Canada and Mexico. It simplifies the export process. It saves the company time and money that can be used to create jobs and grow this business right here in Wisconsin,” he said.
Pence says California Senator Harris voted against the USMCA. Harris has said she did so because she thought the trade deal's environmental provisions were insufficient and didn't address climate change.
Pence also insists the U.S. economy as a whole is recovering from the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown. He did not wear a mask during his remarks, but some audience members were wearing masks.
During a webcast with the news media on Wednesday morning, John Drew with the United Auto Workers in Wisconsin said Pence and Trump are not putting U.S. workers first.
"With their utter failure to lead in the fight against COVID-19 that has resulted in tens of thousands of needless deaths. They are not putting American workers first by failing to extend unemployment benefits for the tens of thousands of Wisconsin workers that have lost their jobs in the pandemic,” Drew said.
President Trump recently signed an executive order to extend a portion of the expanded unemployment payments. But Democrats say the order doesn't go far enough and won't reach some people for weeks.
Drew also says it was only two-and-a-half years ago that Trump approved a large federal tax cut.
"That resulted in huge bonuses for CEOs, and stock buybacks, and did nothing to raise wages or benefits for American workers,” Drew said.
Drew says he's excited about Biden's economic plan to raise the minimum wage, and make it easier to join a union to bargain for higher wages and safe working conditions.
The economic argument will play out in Wisconsin and across the U.S. in the 75 days before the Nov. 3 election. Ann Hessil of Franklin attended the Pence speech and said she's still with the GOP ticket.
"The issues include the jobs, economy, equality for every American, the border wall with illegal, not legal immigrants coming over,” Hessil said.
Curt Lewis of Fort Atkinson also says he's backing the Trump record, while not always backing Trump the man.
"It's like I told somebody the other day, I didn't vote for him to be my Sunday school preacher. I didn't vote to have him do and say all the nicest things all the time,” Lewis said.
Pence says he and Trump will be back to campaign in Wisconsin. Biden will give his Democratic convention speech from Delaware on Thursday night, but he has not ruled out later in-person events.