Pence attends Mich. fundraiser ahead of forum

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Waterford Township — Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Michigan on Wednesday evening for a fundraiser ahead of discussions Thursday on tax reform and a meeting with the state’s governor and business leaders.

The Vice President landed in Air Force 2 at 6:05 p.m. at an Oakland County airport, greeted guests who included Michigan Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial Bill Schuette, Michigan RNC Committeeman Rob Steele and House Speaker Tom Leonard

Afterward, he boarded a motorcade and left for a private dinner, a fundraiser for the Michigan Republican Party.

The fundraiser took place at the home of Phillip and Lauren Fisher in a wooded neighborhood of Bloomfield Hills on Lower Long Lake. Phillip Fisher is a venture capitalist, philanthropist and political donor, according to the press pool report.

Pence did not stop for media questions. His trip to Michigan came as President Donald Trump in Indiana vowed to deliver a major GOP tax overhaul plan.

“It was great to meet him,” said Steele. “He’s a wonderful family man from the state of Indiana. It’s great that he’s out traveling, visiting cities to talk about a tax reform we need.

According to the press pool, he left the event at 8 p.m. Wednesday and traveled to a Troy hotel.

On Thursday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will join the vice president, business leaders and Michigan families to discuss the need for tax reform, according to the White House. Pence will conclude the visit with remarks at the American Axle Manufacturing plant in Auburn Hills.

The former Indiana governor had shown interest in speaking at this past weekend’s biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, but was unable to attend because of security and logistical issues, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser said last week.

“But we’ll get another visit from him,” Weiser said. “He promised me that in return.”

Pence has personal ties to Michigan. The former governor has a good working relationship with Snyder, whose former chief of staff Jarrod Agen works for Pence as deputy chief of staff.

“The nation has taken note of Michigan’s reinvented tax system that has spurred the creation of half a million private-sector jobs, which makes our state the perfect place to have a dialogue on tax reform,” Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton said Tuesday.

Snyder has worked on issues with Pence’s office since he has a strained relationship with Trump, who remembers that the Michigan governor didn’t endorse him either in the 2016 Michigan primary or the general election.

The vice president made a surprise visit to Michigan on July 4, walking in Grandville’s Fourth of July parade with Snyder and U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland.

Trump and Pence made six stops in out-state Michigan, mostly in west Michigan, in the last eight days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Pence appeared with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in a bid to generate excitement among conservative Republican voters who were wary about the New York billionaire. Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes or about two-tenths of a percentage point.

Last week, Pence visited Indiana to call attention to the Trump administration’s planned tax overhaul that he said would cut taxes for families and small businesses and streamline filing taxes, according to the Indianapolis Star.