Mike Pence rallies GOP supporters in Waukesha, takes a jab at Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

WAUKESHA – Vice President Mike Pence resumed his Wisconsin roadshow Tuesday with some tough words on law and order and a jab at Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett during a campaign rally at Weldall Manufacturing.

Speaking to hundreds of people gathered outside the Waukesha facility, Pence declared: “We saw cities in Wisconsin, Kenosha, Milwaukee beset by violence and destruction. The truth of the matter is, though, Joe Biden would double down on the policies that have led to violence in America’s cities.”

Pence said when “you withdraw support from those who protect and serve, you only embolden those who do harm to our families and communities.

“I mean, it’s no surprise Milwaukee has literally seen a 110 percent increase in homicides all while Milwaukee’s Democrat mayor has called for cutting 120 police officers.”

Pence did not mention Barrett by name. The mayor announced the police cuts as part of what he called a “sobering” 2021 budget proposal.

During an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Barrett said the vice president’s criticism was a “cheap shot,” and added that the Republican Legislature in Madison “is trying to starve local government and make it difficult for us to fund our public safety and other concerns.”

He encouraged the Trump administration to work with Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on funding solutions as well.

“The vice president should contact Speaker Pelosi and tell her the administration is in fact willing to help out local governments that are strapped who need additional funds to hire police officers,” Barrett said.

Asked if he was surprised that Pence went after him, Barrett said, “I think that they are in the depths of desperation right now, and they are just flailing at anyone they can.”

By turns optimistic and slashing, Pence was seeking to rally support where Republicans need it most, in deep-red Waukesha County.

“It is great to be back in the Badger state. And I know this is Packers country with that 4-0 record, and judging by the flags and signs I saw on the way here, this is Trump country,” Pence said.

“It’s on everybody, three weeks from today and the road goes right through Wisconsin,” Pence said.

Some in the crowd wore masks, but there was no social distancing.

Over the last two years, Pence has made frequent appearances across the state, from Marinette to La Crosse. In introducing the vice president, U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil quipped Pence “should be named an honorary Badger.”

He even spoke at school choice event at the state Capitol in Madison.

And back in 2017, Pence toured Weldall, a large fabrication manufacturer.

But in the closing weeks of the 2020 race, the vice president is playing an especially important role for President Donald Trump’s campaign.

While the president was recovering from COVID-19, Pence took on high-profile events, including the vice presidential debate with Democrat Kamala Harris and several large rallies.

And he has taken the fight to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

During his speech at Weldall, Pence claimed Democrats want to “defund the police and pack the Supreme Court.”

He urged those who “cherish faith and freedom and law and order and life,” to come out and vote for the president and down-ballot Republicans.

He touted the Trump administration for its role in lowering taxes, cutting regulations and boosting wages.

Pence gave a shout out to former Gov. Scott Walker, who helped him with his debate preparation.

Pence touts conservative justices

He also emphasized the president’s role in filling the courts with conservative judges.

Pence lauded Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pence said “America is seeing the character, the quality and the intellect,” of Barrett.

He praised Barrett’s Catholic faith and said “these attacks on religious faith must stop and stop now.”

“I’ll make you a prediction, Judge Amy Coney Barrett will soon be Justice Amy Coney Barrett. We’re going to fill that seat,” he said.

He also attacked Democrats for “talking about packing the court,” and said Biden and Harris aren’t answering questions on the issue.

In a television interview Monday, Biden said, “I’m not a fan of court-packing, but I don’t want to get off on that whole issue. I want to keep focused. The President would love nothing better than to fight about whether or not I would, in fact, pack the court or not pack the court.”

Pence said four more years of a Trump administration means more jobs, more judges, and “more support for our troops and police.”

“It’s going to take at least four more years to drain that swamp,” Pence said to applause.

Now that the president is back on the road, the Trump campaign has stepped up in-person events, dispatching the vice president and Trump family members across the country.

The campaign blitz returned to Wisconsin this week, with Eric Trump appearing Monday in Menomonee Falls and Milton while Ivanka Trump spoke in Hilbert Tuesday.

President Trump will be in Janesville Saturday, according to a fundraising invitation. No other public events have yet been announced.

Biden has held a persistent lead in Wisconsin, according to the Marquette University Law School Poll. The latest survey showed Biden leading the president among likely voters, 46% to 41%.

The Trump campaign has pushed back on polls showing the president trailing nationally and in key battleground states.

“Our internal numbers, and we’re very confident where our numbers are, they continue to show a different story,” senior Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski said Monday during a conference call with reporters.

Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield criticized Pence and the Trump administration over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“President Trump has shown a reckless disregard for the lives and livelihood of the American people — and nowhere is that more clear than in Wisconsin,” Bedingfield said in a statement. “As coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths surge across the state, the Trump administration still doesn’t have a plan to beat the virus. As voters continue to receive their ballots, Wisconsinites have the power to turn the page on President Trump’s failures and chaos.”