Pence: Trump wants ‘ethics’ reforms in first 100 days

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would sign “fundamental ethics” reforms into law during his first 100 days as president, running mate Mike Pence said here Friday, suggesting voters are sick of the “fast-and-loose ethics” of Democrats such as Hillary Clinton.

The Republican vice presidential nominee addressed a crowd of roughly 200 at a private hangar near the Lansing airport, his second Michigan stop in as many days book-ending a quick trip to Pennsylvania.

Pence again touted Trump as the candidate of change. The New York businessman has never held political office, while Clinton has served as secretary of state and a U.S. senator for New York. Her husband, Bill Clinton, was president and helped steer the nonprofit Clinton Foundation while she served in the Obama administration.

Because of “their decades of self-dealing and politics of personal enrichment and pay-to-play and outright corruption, we must decide here and now that Hillary Clinton will never be elected president of the United States,” said Pence, who will return to Michigan Saturday for his third rally in three days.

The Indiana governor told supporters it’s time to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., promising Trump would enact ethics reforms governing elected officials and stop the “revolving door” of politicians quickly transitioning to work as lobbyists.

The United States added 161,000 new jobs in October and worker wages increased, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Pence called the numbers a reminder of “the weakest economic recovery” since the Great Depression.

“Any progress you’ve made in the last seven-and-a-half years has been in spite of what’s going on in Washington, D.C,” said Pence, a former congressman who voted against a federal bailout of the auto industry widely believed to have saved jobs in Michigan and other states.

President Barack Obama expanded the bailout loans that were first approved by President George W. Bush.

Speaking in what local Republicans have dubbed “the comeback state,” Pence reiterated Trump’s call to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and scrap the not-yet-ratified Trans Pacific Partnership.

A Trump administration will negotiate trade deals that “put American jobs first,” he said. “We’re going to get the manufacturing and auto industry growing in Michigan again.”

Tom Moran of Fenton was the lone protester outside the hangar ahead of Pence’s arrival. He stood beside a paper mache Trump head and a homemade sign declaring Trump “mocks the disabled” and “degrades women.”

The 61-year-old retiree has been a mainstay at Trump rallies.

“I can’t fathom the idea of him being president — and he may win — just because of his character and because he brings out he worst in people,” Moran said.

At a later Friday event in Taylor, Donald Trump’s son, Eric, called on Michigan voters to elect his father president to strengthen America’s military, improve education and protect the Second Amendment.

“Guys, he’s going to build the greatest military, he’s going to take care of education and we’re going to protect the Second Amendment because it’s so important,” Eric Trump said during a stop at Top Gun Shooting Sports, a gun range on Pennsylvania Road near Interstate 75 in Taylor.

A crowd of nearly 200 gathered at Top Gun, which was the fourth stop of a campaign tour that also took him to Saginaw, Pontiac, Walled Lake and Detroit. Many in the crowd that assembled in the gun range’s parking lot wore red baseball caps that said “Make America Great Again.”

“We’re going to take back our country,” Eric Trump said. “We’re going to make America great.”

The Michigan Republican Party hitched its wagon to Pence’s Friday visit, using the event to launch its own “protect our comeback” bus tour, set to include at least 15 stops over the next three days.

A Republican presidential candidate hasn’t won Michigan in nearly three decades, but the Trump campaign has aggressively targeted the state. The New York businessman campaigned in Michigan on Monday.

Hillary Clinton, hoping to protect a state considered part of her national firewall, was in Detroit on Friday with supporters.

“We can win the White House through Michigan,” said Michigan GOP Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel. “Hillary Clinton is following the leader in coming here today.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette said he thinks a tightening presidential race can help Republicans up and down the ticket, from “Trump to bottom and from bottom to Trump,” including tight congressional and state House races.

Clinton has consistently led Trump in Michigan polls, but the numbers have tightened over the past two weeks, according to an average by Real Clear Politics.

Incumbent Rep. Tim Walberg of Tipton, who is locked in a tight race for re-election against Democratic state Rep. Gretchen Driskell, said he thinks the Republican ticket is “pulling ahead” in Michigan.

“Do we need a candidate who right now, right now is under investigation for criminal offenses? No,” said Walberg, referencing the week-old revelation that the FBI was looking into new emails that may be related to Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

More Trump surrogates are headed to Michigan for the weekend. Pence is scheduled to talk at the Park Theatre in Holland at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is scheduled to be in Michigan on Sunday. There were no details about the Michigan visit for Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential candidate.