MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Vice President Mike Pence spent at least part of his Wednesday in downtown Minneapolis with midterm elections just seven months away.
Our cameras were there as Pence arrived in town Tuesday night on Air Force Two, before speaking at a private fundraising event.
On Wednesday, he was back at it again, touting the GOP’s new tax plan to a crowd at the Minneapolis Convention Center. But the visit wasn’t all about taxes.
It was touted as an educational event to talk to Minnesotans about what the new tax legislation means for our state. But with just seven months to go until the 2018 midterm elections, this was also a chance for the Pence to give Republicans a big push. The vice president received an enthusiastic introduction from 3rd District Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen.
“You can always count on Mike Pence to fight for what is right, and to fight for our country,” he said.
In his speech, Vice President Pence talked about the impact of the Trump tax cuts on Minnesota families.
“All told, we think these tax cuts will save the typical family of four in Minnesota about a $3,000 a year in your taxes,” Pence said.
Pence arrived in Minnesota Tuesday and attended a private fundraiser for GOP candidates including Congressman Paulsen, Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis who all spoke at a panel discussion before this morning’s event. Afterwords Pence said Minnesota is a priority for Republicans — four of Minnesota’s eight Congressional seats are ranked as toss ups in November.
The event was sponsored by America First Policies, a nonprofit organization established after President Trump’s inauguration by some of his former advisers. Vice President Pence took the stage after My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell and our state’s three Republican Representatives Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis and Erik Paulsen, who introduced Pence to the stage.
Pence thanked the crowd for their support in the 2016 presidential election, and touted Trump’s work on beefing up border security and combating opioid addiction. After his speech, we spoke with Pence about Minnesota’s role in the GOP’s strategy.
Pence’s visit is drawing fire from Democrats including Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison who says the Vice President’s figures on the benefit of the tax bill to average Minnesotans are wrong.
“There may be some small, temporary benefits to some people, but overall the benefits to working Americans — people of ordinary income — they are going to see their taxes go up, certainly over the 10-year period,” Ellison said.
Both in his speech and in his remarks afterward, the Vice President singled out 3rd District Congressman Erik Paulsen, a member of the influential House Ways and Means Committee, for his help in getting the President’s tax bill passed.
Congressman Paulsen’s likely Democratic opponent businessman Dean Phillips issued a statement today criticizing Paulsen’s key role in getting the tax bill passed saying, “Erik Paulsen wrote a tax bill that left middle class families behind.”
“I think there’s a great deal of focus. Minnesota is an important state. There’s two open seat Congressional elections here, but there’s also a couple of incumbent members that we greatly admire and appreciate that will have good contests as they always do,” Pence said. “Look, I’m a Midwesterner. We love good political debate in the Midwest, we love good contests but make no mistake about it, President Trump and I are absolutely committed to doing everything that we can to make sure that these strong conservative leaders that represent Minnesota so well and are advancing an agenda that’s creating jobs and opportunity and promoting security, have an opportunity to continue to serve.”
Four of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts are considered toss-ups. Of the four, two of them are rare open seats. Tim Walz in the First District is running for governor, and Rick Nolan in the Eighth District is retiring.
Republicans are trying desperately to hold control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Political analyst Larry Jacobs says both parties believe Minnesota voters could determine who controls the US House of Representatives as well as the US Senate. He said Minnesota could well be a firewall in the effort by republicans to hold the majorities in congress.
After Wednesday’s event, Vice President Pence is heading straight back to Washington D.C. The Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, was also traveling with Pence.