Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence said Wednesday that Democratic and Republican administrations have been “eroding the foundation” of American manufacturing.
Speaking at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, the Indiana governor said he and presidential candidate Donald Trump would restore that foundation by getting tough on trade and easing regulations on business.
“Donald Trump and I know we haven’t been tough, we haven’t been smart in defending American jobs and American workers,” he said. “And that’s about to change.… We aren’t walking away, but we will roll our sleeves up and hold our (trading) partners accountable.”
Pence spoke to around 150 invited guests at the 115-year-old company. He was introduced by Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.
Pence, who is scheduled to campaign in the Wilmington area Wednesday afternoon, is the latest high-profile visitor to North Carolina. Trump was in Charlotte last Thursday for a rally and fundraiser. Democrat Hillary Clinton also visited the city this month and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, stumped in Greensboro.
The visits underscore the tightness of the race in North Carolina and the state’s role as a key battleground. A new CNN/ORC Poll released Wednesday showed Trump and Clinton virtually tied in the state, with Clinton’s one-point lead well within the margin of error.
“The road to the White House goes right through North Carolina,” Pence said.
In 16-minute remarks, Pence also said the next president could shape the Supreme Court for decades.
“If you cherish God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution, if you cherish freedom of speech, of religion, if you cherish the Second Amendment...We have to make sure the next president making (Supreme Court) appointments is Donald Trump,” Pence said.
Pence devoted most of his speech to trade, one of Trump’s signature issues. He said he and Trump aren’t opposed to global trade. But he said the U.S. hasn’t reviewed trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement to make sure they are fair.
He also called for lowering taxes and said he and Trump will “end the war on coal.”
In 2012, then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also spoke at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry. Pence last visited North Carolina on Aug. 4, when he spoke to about 300 people in downtown Raleigh.
Later Wednesday, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said the Trump-Pence ticket would harm the nation’s economy.
She cited an analysis from Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics, who had previously been an adviser to 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Zandi said the Trump plan could cost 3.5 million jobs.
“We need a ‘You’re hired’ president, not a ‘You’re fired’ president,” Roberts said, echoing Kaine, Clinton’s running mate.
She was joined by Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, who said Trump’s “massive tax cuts” would cause “massive deficits.”