MACOMB COUNTY, MICH. - Without the customary bluster and controversial rhetoric of his running mate Donald Trump, vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence soberly warned a Macomb County crowd Monday of the consequences of a Hillary Clinton presidency.
“When America is crying out for change, the other party has nominated someone who personifies the failed status quo in Washington, D.C.,” he said, ticking off the controversies surrounding the Democratic nominee including: the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server and the classification of e-mails as well as the deaths of an American ambassador and soldiers in Benghazi.
“The list goes on and on and on,” he told more than 900 people attending the Macomb County Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner. “We must do all we can to ensure that Hillary Clinton is never elected president of the United States.”
The election is about foreign policy and rebuilding the nation’s military, Pence said, as well as the appointment of Supreme Court justices who will shape the direction of the court.
“This election is about big things. It’s about security and safety and it’s also about prosperity,” he said. “There are millions more people living in poverty than when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took over. Their plan is more of the same failed policies, more taxes, more regulations, more Obamacare, more trade policies that drive jobs out of Michigan.”
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 on 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.
But Pence's speech Monday came as the Trump presidential campaign has been sidetracked by controversy in recent weeks, including revelations that he hasn't paid federal income taxes for nearly two decades and the continuing blowback from lewd and vulgar comments from Trump and television personality Billy Bush made about women 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.
The latest poll in Michigan — taken by EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV — shows Trump falling 11 points behind Clinton statewide and by a 50%-36% percentage 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%.
Though Pence didn’t talk about the Nov. 8 election being rigged, as Trump has done repeatedly, he did say it’s important to uphold the “one person, one vote policy” in the country.
“We have to make sure we roll our sleeves up and be strong. Make sure that you’re out there upholding that one person, one vote principle each and every day. The integrity of the vote is the bedrock of our democracy,” Pence said. “You come to rallies, you come to dinners and make sure you’re out there standing with your neighbors and turning out the vote and maintaining integrity of the vote.”
Attorney General Bill Schuette said political and media elites would like to see the election over “because they’re all in for Hillary,” but he sidestepped the question of whether the election is actually being rigged.
“This is an election about change,” he said. “In Michigan, I think the race is closer than it appears and in 22 days we’ll know.”
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. He has visited African-American churches in Detroit and Flint, and has drawn big crowds to rallies in Dimondale and Novi.
Clinton 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. Kaine's visit to Detroit will not be open to the general public.
In a press conference before Pence's speech, Democrats denounced Trump for derogatory comments about women.
“The latest audio and allegations against Donald Trump only reaffirm the kind of person he is: a bully who has no respect for women,” said state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores. “Donald Trump has done nothing but insult and demean women."
The Pence speech was the Macomb County Republican Party's biggest fund-raiser of the year.
Contact Kathleen Gray: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @michpoligal
Detroit Free Press