LA CROSSE – Vice President Mike Pence touched down Monday in western Wisconsin to tout America’s workforce as Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris spent Labor Day touring a union training site in Milwaukee.
Pence used his stop at Dairyland Power Cooperative in La Crosse to promote the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement. He noted Harris, a senator from California, voted against it.
“I heard that Joe Biden’s running mate is in Milwaukee today,” he said. “But dairy farmers in Wisconsin deserve to know that Sen. Kamala Harris is one of only ten senators to vote against the USMCA. She said it didn’t go far enough on climate change.
“‘Now, here at Dairyland Power, you deserve to know Sen. Harris put their radical environmental agenda ahead of Wisconsin dairy and ahead of Wisconsin power. But under President Donald Trump we will always put Wisconsin farmers, Wisconsin businesses and Wisconsin families first.”
Twenty-five senators, including Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, last month asked the administration to make sure that the trade deal is enforced properly to ensure the expansion of trade for American dairy products.
Johnson greeted Pence at the airport Monday and told the crowd at Dairyland Power that Pence is “almost an honorary Badger” because of his frequent visits to the state. Also appearing Monday was U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia.
In front of a large American flag and 10 workers in hardhats, Pence spoke to hundreds from a stage in a parking lot at Dairyland Power. A second giant flag hanging from a crane fluttered in the wind.
Some in the crowd wore masks because of the coronavirus pandemic, but most did not. People were packed in close to one another.
The Wisconsin visits by Pence and Harris are the latest reminder that the state is at center stage in the presidential election. Their stops here come less than a week after Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden visited Kenosha, the scene of a police shooting, unrest and the killing of two protesters.
As he has in past visits, Pence highlighted the growth of the economy under Trump up until the pandemic hit the country this year. He said Trump is getting control of the virus and will soon rev up the economy.
“Joe Biden said not long ago that no miracle is coming. But here in America, we’re in the miracle business and we’re going to have a safe and effective vaccine before the end of this year,” he said.
He said Biden and Harris wouldn’t do enough to stop looting and the burning of buildings that have occurred in places like Kenosha, where unrest erupted after a white police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back.
“Any incident involving the police use of force will be thoroughly investigated, but there is no excuse for the rioting and looting that we have seen in Kenosha and in cities across the country,” he said. “And this violence against civilians, against property and against law enforcement must stop and it must stop now.”
As he did in a July visit to Ripon, Pence promised to back law enforcement.
“This president and this administration have stood with the men and women of law enforcement and we will stand with them every day,” he said.
Trump’s advisers see western Wisconsin as an important territory as they seek to win the state a second time. Trump and Pence have come to the state regularly, and Pence was last in the La Crosse area in July, the same day he visited Ripon.
Pence was last in Wisconsin on Aug. 19, when he swung through Darien to promote efforts to expand manufacturing jobs. Trump also came to Wisconsin that week, as Democrats held a mostly virtual national convention that was anchored in Milwaukee.
The Republicans used those visits to showcase their willingness to visit the state even as Biden and Harris stayed away because of the pandemic.
Since then, the Democratic ticket has made clear it won’t stay away from Wisconsin, as Hillary Clinton did in the 2016 general election.
Harris’ visit to Milwaukee is her first to a battleground state since she became Biden’s running mate. She is touring an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training facility and later hosting a discussion with Black business leaders. As Biden did last week, Harris met with the Blake family at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, with Jacob Blake joining the meeting by telephone.
Democrats won Wisconsin in every presidential election from 1988 to 2012 but lost it in 2016 by about 22,000 votes out of nearly 3 million votes cast. Both sides see the state as essential this time around.
Contact Patrick Marley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.