Pence expected back in Detroit area Wednesday to tour Ford plant, talk trade

Jonathan Oosting
The Detroit News
Vice President Mike Pence, speaking here in January, will attend a fundraiser and will speak with automakers and suppliers.

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to be back in Michigan Wednesday to talk trade, tour a Ford Motor Co. plant and help ramp up the re-election efforts of President Donald Trump for 2020.

The former Indiana governor is slated to attend a private fundraiser at the Detroit Athletic Club, two sources said.

The Trump Victory event will generate money for Trump's re-election committee, the Republican National Committee and other GOP fundraising groups.

Afterward, Pence is scheduled to tour the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant and then discuss the benefits of the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement with automakers and parts makers in Taylor.

It will be the vice president's ninth trip to Michigan since taking office.

The Trump administration is seeking ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has said she wouldn't back a vote on the new trade deal until Mexico passes certain labor reform laws to ensure parts of the proposed agreement are enforced in Mexico.

Pence's trip will be to the district of U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, where many working-class voters are apparently blaming Pelosi for the lack of action on the Trump renegotiated trade deal.

"They’ve lost jobs and we’ve got shuttered plants here because of NAFTA," Dingell told The Detroit News editorial board last week.

"They want to know somebody is going to fight to keep their jobs here. And they think by not bringing USMCA to the floor, that it’s just another person not helping them to keep jobs here.”

The new pact, negotiated last year with Canada and Mexico, calls for increasing from 62.5% to 75% the percentage of a vehicle's parts that must come from one of the three countries to qualify for tariff-free treatment.

It also requires that 40-45% of an auto's content be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour. Vehicles not meeting the requirements would be subject to a 2.5% U.S. duty.

The U.S. trade representative last week released a study estimating the new trade deal would create 76,000 jobs in the auto industry over five years.  

Pence was last in Michigan in late October 2018 as he campaigned for Republican congressional candidates and others in Waterford and Grand Rapids ahead of the November election, which Michigan Democrats dominated by picking up two congressional seats and winning top statewide offices.

Trump held a massive re-election rally in Grand Rapids last month, emphasizing his continued focus on Michigan and the state’s second-largest city, where he capped his 2016 campaign with a late-night rally that stretched into Election Day.

Democratic presidential candidates have also lavished early attention on Michigan, which is among a series of Midwest states that Trump flipped three years ago en route to his Electoral College win.

Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont campaigned in west Michigan and Macomb County earlier this month as he seeks to build on his Democratic primary win here in 2016.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York held events in Metro Detroit in March. Sens. Kamala Harris of California Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are expected in Detroit in May.

Trump raised a record $30 million for his re-election campaign during the first three months of 2019, including at least $350,000 from Michigan residents.

The president easily surpassed in fundraising amongtop Democrats hoping to challenge him in the general election next year.

Detroit News Staff Writers Melissa Nann Burke and Keith Laing contributed