Vice President Mike Pence has heard the conventional narrative that it will be tough for Republicans to be victorious in the midterms.
But while speaking to a crowd of about 1,500 supporters at the DeltaPlex Arena near Grand Rapids Monday night, Pence said he’s not buying it.
“I think we all know what President Donald Trump thinks of conventional wisdom,” Pence said. “We’re going to make history again in 2018.”
The evening rally was Pence’s second of the day in Michigan, where he campaigned to support gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette, U.S. Senate candidate John James and other Republicans on the ballot this fall.
“I know Michigan’s going to deliver again,” Pence said.
Both Schuette and James are trailing in the polls behind their Democratic candidates, although both say they’re feeling confident eight days out from the midterm election.
Pence referred to James – whose speech was interrupted due to a small electrical fire in the venue’s lighting system – as a candidate “who is on fire,” praising his military background and his business expertise.
When introducing Pence, James said he was encouraged by Pence’s support, noting that he “believes that Michigan is important enough to come back again.”
Schuette called himself the comeback kid and predicted the race would be 51-49 in his favor: “We’ll keep you up late that night,” he quipped.
“This campaign is just where we want it,” Schuette told the crowd, referencing Trump’s victory in 2016 and former Michigan Governor John Engler’s victory in 1990 despite trailing in state polls.
Schuette “basically has public service running in his veins,” Pence said, adding that Schuette would continue to build on previous successes of Michigan Republicans.
At an earlier rally in Oakland County, Pence also focused attention on Republican Congressional candidates Mike Bishop and Lena Epstein. Bishop, R-Rochester, is running for reelection in the 8th Congressional District, and Epstein is running in the open 11th Congressional District.
In Grand Rapids, Pence listed off the Trump administration’s recent wins, including a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico and the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He also said Trump would continue to support law enforcement and border security, and that electing more Republicans to office would help support the administration’s goals.
Across the street from the DeltaPlex, several members of the Michigan Democratic Party rallied around a 15-foot-tall inflated pill bottle to protest the alleged complicity of Republicans in high drug and healthcare prices.
Brandon Dillon, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, said they chose to protest the get-out-the-vote rally with a pill bottle because “healthcare is the number one issue on people’s minds” and Republicans don’t hold “Big Pharma” accountable because of the “massive” campaign contributions they receive.
The party chairman said Michigan voters are tired of the “divisiveness” stirred by Trump and candidates who embrace him. In contrast, Dillon said, Democratic candidates Gretchen Whitmer for governor and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow are bipartisan “consensus builders” who will “restore a more civil tone to our politics.”
“We want people to know that Michigan Democrats stand for change, whether it’s making sure healthcare is more affordable, getting the damn roads fixed and a whole host of other issues,” Dillon said.