Vice President Mike Pence and new Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia toured a family-owned Lakeville sign company Thursday afternoon, highlighting what they described as an “extraordinary period” of economic prosperity.
“We didn’t get there by accident,” Scalia told a crowd of workers at the warehouse rally. “It was the policies and tax cuts our president put forward early on.”
Pence, accompanied by his wife, Karen, made a quick campaign stop in the south metro before joining President Donald Trump at a Thursday evening rally in downtown Minneapolis. Former Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, who recently announced a bid for the U.S. Senate, joined the tour but did not address the crowd.
Standing in front of a backdrop of familiar Minnesota road signs, Pence said that Trump “has never stopped fighting to create more jobs and a more prosperous and more secure America.”
He pointed to rally host Safety Signs, owned and operated by Sue and Jay Blanchard, as an American success story benefiting from Trump’s tax cuts and economic policies. Safety Signs employs about 130 workers and makes road and pedestrian signs.
“Right out of the gate we cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses just like this, family farms. We rolled back more federal red tape than any administration in American history already,” Pence said. “And as you all see happening in northern Minnesota, we’ve unleashed American energy.”
Echoing a speech he gave in May at a St. Paul steel mill, the vice president urged Congress to put politics aside and pass a new trade agreement to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
He also urged voters to call U.S. Rep Angie Craig, the freshman Democrat in the Second Congressional District who unseated Lewis in 2018, and implore her to support the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Craig has come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry into the president, but Pence largely sidestepped the issue other than to say, “Washington, D.C., is spending its time on endless investigations, controversy. We’ve got an opportunity to pass something in Congress that would be a win for everyone in Minnesota and this country.”
In a statement, Craig welcomed Pence to her district, which includes Lakeville.
“I am happy that the vice president will hear from a local business firsthand,” Craig said. “I stand ready to work with the administration to lower the cost of health care, support a robust infrastructure package and expand markets for Minnesota farmers.”
The district, which includes the metro suburbs south of the Minnesota River and stretches along the Mississippi River to the southeast, is one of several around the nation represented by a Democrat that went to Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
The Republican National Committee has spent nearly $330,000 on a TV ad attacking Craig. The ad, running on four local channels, charges Craig with voting for “endless investigations of President Trump” rather than lowering health care and drug prices. The committee has run similar ads against a number of other Democrats in swing districts.
The Democratic nonprofit House Majority Forward is hitting back, spending nearly $250,000 over the next week on TV ads backing Craig.
“Our health care system is rigged for drug and insurance companies, but Angie Craig is giving Minnesotans a fair shot,” the ad says. “She is working with Democrats and Republicans, authoring bills to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and making it easier to see a doctor in rural communities.”
Staff writers Jessie Van Berkel and Patrick Condon contributed to this report. Shannon Prather • 651-925-5037