Vice President Pence revs up 2020 campaign with Michigan Republicans

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. —Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Michigan Republican Leadership Conference on Saturday afternoon, calling on the party to unify behind President Donald Trump.

Pence arrived at the Grand Hotel to an auditorium and overflow room both at capacity.

“A friend of mine is used to overflow, I am not,” Pence said.

Pence thanked members of the audience for electing President Trump in 2016. The president won the state by just over 10,000 votes.

Among the crowd was Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph and John James, who is running for Senate against Democratic incumbent Gary Peters after a failed run against Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2016.

“I’m here to say I was for John James before it was cool,” Pence said.

Pence told a story about the eve of Election Day in 2016 when he and Trump made a late-night stop in Grand Rapids.

“He picked up the phone and he said, ‘Mike, we gotta meet in Michigan,'” Pence said. “Thanks to Michigan and President Donald Trump, we’ve made America great again.”

Pence spent a significant amount of his time at the podium addressing what he said were foreign policy “promises kept.”

Pence said thanks to Trump, the U.S. military is fighting terrorist groups “on our terms, on their soil.”

This comes after a U.S. operation killed Osama Bin Laden’s son. Shortly before that announcement, the president confirmed planned talks with the Taliban at Camp David fell through.

After describing what the vice president said were improvements made to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, he said under the Trump administration, the United States has supported its allies. This matter has been at the center of attacks Democratic presidential hopefuls have launched against the president’s foreign policy record, claiming he’s weakened relationships with European allies.

Pence also touted the number of federal judges and Supreme Court justices the president has appointed in his 2 1/2 years in office.

“Four more years means more judges,” Pence said.

He took a moment to acknowledge the renewed accusations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling the media “desperate” for reporting on it. He said the accusations “must stop.”

“It seems like the media likes to emphasize what divides us in this country,” Pence said. “I believe there will always be more that unites us in the United States and the chief among those is faith.”

Pence asked the audience to pray for America and said “it will make a difference.”

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will be addressing the conference at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Grand Hotel.

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