Pence

Vice President Mike Pence spoke to supporters at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

LAKEVILLE, Minn. — Before joining President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in downtown Minneapolis, Vice President Mike Pence visited the Safety Signs company in Lakeville Thursday, Oct. 10, to tout the benefits the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will provide if Congress ratifies it.

“I came here to Minnesota today to say the time has come for Democrats in Congress to pass the USMCA and pass it this year,” Pence told the company’s 130 employees at a rally on the plant floor.

Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Canada signed the new trade deal last year, but it still needs to be ratified by all three governments. The agreement would replace and modernize the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. Some congressional Democrats object to provisions in the proposed pact.

Pence called it “the largest trade deal in American history.” He said Congress now has a chance to “pass something that would be a win for everyone in Minnesota and a win for this country.”

He urged the audience to “let all the people representing Minnesota in Washington, D.C., know … that a growing economy thrives on trade deals that put American jobs and American workers first.

“And while you’re at it, give Congresswoman Angie Craig a call to tell her that you want the USMCA voted on the floor of the House, and you want it voted this year.”

The Trump-Pence campaign picked Lakeville for the stop because it’s in the 2nd Congressional District, which is represented by first-term Democrat Craig, who recently announced her support for an impeachment inquiry of the president.

Trump carried the district in 2016 by just over 1 percentage point, the same year Craig was defeated by Republican Jason Lewis by less than 2 points. But in a 2018 rematch, Craig beat Lewis by more than 5 percentage points.

The district, which encompasses the southern Twin Cities suburbs and parts of rural southeastern Minnesota, is a typical “suburban swing district” that political analysts say will be key to winning the 2020 presidential election. Trump has the district a high-priority target in his reelection campaign, but Craig’s only announced Republican challenger so far is Rick Olson, a former Michigan state lawmaker. Lewis, meanwhile, is an announced candidate for U.S. Senate from Minnesota, seeking to oust Tina Smith.

Pence plans to visit a number of similar districts this fall, his office said. He made a stop in Iowa Wednesday and will also go to Wisconsin, Michigan and Virginia.

His staff said Pence hopes to persuade Craig and other swing-district Democratic lawmakers to work with Trump on trade, drug prices and other issues.

Before the vice president arrived, Craig welcomed him to the district. “I hope that he and the president will spend time with small-business owners and family farmers who have been negatively affected by tariffs and small refinery waivers,” she said in a statement.

“It’s time to end the trade war and work to open new markets to trade. I stand ready to work with the administration to lower the price of health care and prescription drugs and to work together to build a transportation and infrastructure plan for the 21st century.”

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