Even though recent polls have shown Michigan getting further out of reach for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, his vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will speak tonight before a core constituency in Michigan — Macomb County Republicans.
The local party's annual Lincoln Day dinner with Pence as the keynote speaker is expected to attract more than 900 Macomb County Republicans to the Palazzo Grande Banquet Center in Shelby Township. It will be Pence's third visit to the state.
Macomb County is a key demographic for the Trump campaign and has been loyal to the New York businessman. Trump won big in Macomb during the presidential primary election March 8, receiving more than 60,400 votes, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich got 27,535 votes and Ted Cruz won nearly 20,000 votes.
In a poll taken in September, Trump was running a close second to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a two-way matchup, but ahead by 41%-40% when Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein were factored in.
But Pence's speech tonight comes as the Trump campaign has been sidetracked by controversy in recent weeks, including revelations that he hasn't paid federal income taxes for nearly two decades, his foundation has been sanctioned for giving questionable political donations and for raising money without the proper certification, and the continuing fallout from lewd and vulgar comments by Trump and TV personality Billy Bush about women that were picked up by a hot microphone in 2005. Since that audio recording was released 10 days ago, at least nine women have come forward to say they were groped or kissed without consent by Trump over the last 30 years.
And now the latest poll in Michigan — taken by EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV — shows Trump falling 11 percentage points behind Clinton statewide and by a 50%-36% margin in Macomb County. In a four-way race, Clinton got 55% support of the 600 people surveyed, while Trump got 25%, Johnson ended up with 9% and Stein got 3%.
Trump has made Michigan a frequent stop during the campaign as he tries to pave a path to the White House with disaffected blue-collar workers in the industrial Midwest who have been impacted by the loss of manufacturing jobs in the last 10 years. He has visited African-American churches in Detroit and Flint, and has drawn big crowds to rallies in Dimondale and Novi.
Clinton also was in Michigan last week giving a speech before about 4,000 people at Wayne State University. On Tuesday, her vice presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, and his wife, Anne Holton, will make a stop at Focus: HOPE in Detroit to talk with workers and volunteers.
The Pence speech is the Macomb County Republican Party's biggest fund-raiser of the year.
Kaine's visit to Detroit will not be open to the general public.