Pence in Michigan: 'They know they can't defeat this president'

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Battle Creek — Vice President Mike Pence took the stage at a Christmas-themed rally Wednesday night in Michigan, striking back against the so-called “partisan impeachment” effort underway by Democrats.

The vice president said the Democrats are fearful they won’t win in the next race, touting the Trump administration’s success in securing borders, fighting against terrorism and building up the military, making it “the strongest in history,” he said.

“I’m here for one reason and one reason only,” he told the Kellogg Arena crowd, which cheered in response. “Four more years of Donald Trump in the White House.”

Vice President Mike Pence speaks before President Donald Trump arrives at a rally at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek on Wednesday.

Less than an hour after Pence spoke, the Democratic-controlled House voted to make Trump the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

Pence called the impeachment effort a “disgrace.”

From the first day, he said, Democrats have been trying to overturn the results of the election and returning to Wednesday because “they know they can’t defeat this president.”

“I’m here because I stand with President Donald Trump, and when this president stands up for American jobs and American workers, I stand with Donald Trump,” he said. “When this president stands up to the do-nothing Democrats … and their partisan impeachment, we stand with Donald Trump.”

Pence made two earlier stops on a mid-Michigan bus tour Wednesday, touting the president’s record on jobs and the economy hours before the Trump campaign rally in Battle Creek.

More: Live updates as Pence, Trump bring message to Michigan voters

After landing in 15-degree weather Wednesday morning near Saginaw, Pence met with about 200 Trump supporters gathered at a Saginaw Township conference center for a Workers for Trump rally. He later surprised patrons at Zehnder's and Bronner's in Frankenmuth.

Vice President Mike Pence addresses a Workers for Trump event Wednesday in Saginaw.

During his remarks in Saginaw Township, Pence touted employment numbers, tax cuts and breaks, the pending revised trade deal with Canada and Mexico and Tuesday’s announcement of 3,000 additional jobs at Ford Motor Co. Several in the crowd carried signs saying “Keep America Working.”

“The best is yet to come for American workers under President Trump,” Pence said.

The former Indiana governor also touched on the impeachment process, drawing a parallel between the blustery weather in Michigan and what he called “a lot of bluster in Washington D.C.”

Outside the conference room, television screens in an adjacent restaurant broadcast the impeachment debate in the U.S. House of Representatives from Washington, D.C.

After the House votes based on a “sham investigation,” Pence said, lawmakers will move on to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. 

Bipartisan support is expected for the trade deal but, on Wednesday, “the only bipartisan vote will be a vote against the articles of impeachment,” Pence said.

"Truthfully, friends, what's happening on Capitol Hill today is a disgrace," Pence said.

Pence arrived in Battle Creek shortly before 6 p.m. after his more than two dozen car motorcade drove nearly three hours along shuttered roadways to join the Trump campaign's "Merry Christmas Rally" in Battle Creek. 

Before reaching his final destination, Pence made unannounced visits to diners at Zehnder's Restaurant and shoppers at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth. The visits were bookmarked by handshakes, photographs and well-wishes, all while the U.S. House of Representatives debated the merits of impeaching Trump. 

Vice President Mike Pence meets with residents at Zehnder's in Frankenmuth on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 ahead of a rally with President Donald Trump in Battle Creek. The rally was held as the U.S. House voted to impeach Trump.

Judy Castillo of Lansing was celebrating her 84th birthday at Zehnder's when the vice president entered the restaurant with a crowd of secret service and media in tow. 

"I've never been this close to a public official, and for it to happen on my birthday, I'm shocked," she said. 

A supporter of Trump, Castillo acknowledged she lived in a "house divided." Her husband, union worker Jesse Castillo, was strongly opposed to the president. 

"She’s going to get a talking to when we get home,” he joked.

“And I won’t listen,” she responded.

Vice President Mike Pence meets with residents at Bronner's in Frankenmuth on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 ahead of a rally with President Donald Trump in Battle Creek. The rally was held as the U.S. House voted to impeach Trump.

The visit is Pence's 12th trip to Michigan since taking office in 2017. Two weeks ago, the vice president headlined a rally in Holland and made a surprise visit to an American Legion post in Grand Rapids.